I was sitting at my desk, gazing out of the window, daydreaming, drowsed by the droning sound of the teacher’s voice. A woman came out of the headmaster’s office, and as she walked across the yard, towards the gates, I realised that it was Mrs Morelli. I wondered what she was doing at school. And then I remembered.
As I watched her, I imagined the headmaster standing at his window, hands behind his back, like a president, looking out, just like me. Perhaps he was thinking about how quiet the school was, like a sleeping dog, while the morning’s lessons were under-way, and how things would explode into movement and colour at the sound of the bell. This is normally when he has a cup of coffee, I thought, and chats with his secretary about things at home. Or if his secretary is busy, he just sits and thinks about his own life, and wonders what he’s doing here, so far away from his early years. Being in a school all day long must be strange for an adult—all those reminders of what might have been.
But today was different for him.
Mrs Morelli was walking slowly, as if she were trying to recall where she’d last seen something she’d lost. She appeared to be in no hurry to get anywhere. She stopped when she was still inside the gates, put her bag on the ground, and stood, looking back at the school. I thought that she might be imagining Yvonne in the schoolyard, or maybe she was just tired after talking with the headmaster, and wanted to rest. She wore a deep blue headscarf, almost black. It had some kind of a pattern on it. I couldn’t see clearly, but it might have been little flowers or strawberries, like on her tablecloths at home. It was knotted below her chin, and I wondered if she’d removed it while she was speaking with the headmaster.
Then she turned her head and looked straight at me, as if she could sense me looking at her, and I think that it took her a while to realise that it was me behind the window, because of the way it’s hard to make things out behind glass. Then she raised her hand and waved. I smiled at her, but I didn’t wave back. I turned and looked at the teacher at the front of the classroom, and then when I looked out of the window again, Mrs Morelli was picking up her bag, and I wished then, and still wish now, that I could have left the classroom and gone to help her with her bag, and maybe walked with her for a while, and told her how I was getting along, but she walked through the gates and away from the school, and I never saw her again.
© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.