Chapter 16: Hell ACT III of We Love All
Ilona stares around the classroom at all the other students filing in and settling down, feeling pity since they do not know what is coming. Her glancing ends when she sees Susan and Clara on the far side and is confused by their reactions. Clara looks concerned, but is putting up a strong façade. Susan seems just plain determined, almost like she has foreknowledge of what is to come and is mentally prepared for it.
And that thought scares Ilona even more.
How could she be prepared for the anger the face of Mr. Micheals predicts? Ilona does not know how, but she quietly connects dots and for some reason Mr. Micheals anger towards Joshua translates to something, anything, to do with Susan. The mystery is before her, and she shakes it off because class is about to begin, since she needs to be alert in order to survive.
Class starts again. And nothing happens.
Mr. Micheals continues on, with geography being his focus now. Ilona studies her teacher and sees no sign, no expression, of the man she saw earlier in the hallway. This unsettles her as well. That much anger and hatred could be bottled up and hidden so well, so completely, makes Ilona wonder what else is screaming under his surface.
The calm prevails almost till the end of the day. Almost. When Mr. Micheals gives the homework assignment out, all is well and normal, but Ilona notices him standing an extra few seconds at the front table after he finishes. Staring at the open book, Ilona can see his face slowly unravel into what she fears.
Once the transformation is complete, he stands up straight and slams the textbook shut with a massive crash.
Everyone jumps. Heads all turn to face him. All look confused except Ilona, Clara and Susan.
“One last thing,” Mr. Micheals states in a very loud voice full of hardness.
“One of you made a mistake recently on some assignment. I am not going to name that student, because I am not a cruel and unjust man. However, I have to do my duty as a professional teacher and a respectable human being, and point this out. All in order to correct it.” Mr. Micheals continues on unabated in an unemotional tone that Ilona could tell unnerves everyone in class.
“This word was misspelled,” he turns to the blackboard and starts printing in huge letters. His hand angrily slams the chalk along, making a loud scratching sound which reaches unbearable levels at times. He finishes and turns to glare at the class.
“The word is dike. D – I – K – E,” Mr. Micheals spit out while pointing at the large word on the blackboard. “That is the correct spelling. Everyone write that down. Now. Please.” A forced smile spreads across his lips on the last word, giving Ilona a feeling hitting her stomach of creepiness. For a second, she fought the urge to vomit.
“We do not spell the word this way.” Mr. Micheals turns back to the board and, directly underneath the first word, starts filling the air with the noise of angry chalk hitting innocent blackboard. He completes his task and again faces the class, his face hard with rage. Ilona feels a wave of fear sweep the class. She wills herself not to look over at Susan and Clara and silently hopes they are okay. Any bad behaviour at this point would bring severe punishment, that is clear. All are staring at the word just now put on the blackboard.
“This is the word dyke. D – Y – K – E. It is the wrong spelling of dike. You must never use this spelling, for it is WRONG.” Mr. Micheals stands next to the words and keeps slamming his fist against it, raising his voice on the last word as he finishes.
Ilona lives in confusion for a second or so. This word dyke is new to her and her mind is rapidly trying to connect how this all relates to Mr. Micheals, Joshua and Susan. The rest of the class seems as mystified as her, with Ilona still not daring to glance at her friends, all to see if they can shed some light.
“So now I shall ascertain if this vital lesson has sunk in and become a part of your souls,” Mr. Micheals lowers his arm back to his side, than shoots it up at superspeed. “Susan.” He calls with a sharp tone, pointing straight at her. To Ilona, it fells like an accusing moment.
“Stand up,” he orders.
Ilona and the rest of the class turn to see Susan stand. Her defiant look still very evident.
“How do you spell dike?” Mr. Micheals asks, with the words aimed by his still pointing finger.
“D – I – K – E,” Susan shoots back in a firm tone, her face unmoving.
“CORRECT.” He shouts back. “And what is the WRONG way to spell dike?”
“D – Y – K – E,” Susan shoots back again, still keeping her composure.
“CORRECT.” Mr. Micheals arm never wavers as he almost bellows his response. “We have to get this RIGHT, not WRONG, and D – Y – K – E is completely WRONG. Do you understand Susan?” Mr. Micheals eyes are staring at Susan with a laser like intensity. Ilona surveys her friend, her enemy, and all the confused innocents caught in the middle. She does not understand fully what is happening, but she can tell that this obscene hatred is all hitting Susan, who is surviving it with a warrior’s grace.
“Yes, I understand.” Susan states, never once letting her gaze leave Mr. Micheals.
Mr. Micheals stares back for a few more seconds, then snaps his arm back into place beside him.
“Good. As long as we have that all cleared up. D – I – K – E is right. D – Y – K – E is wrong. Never, ever, forget that class, no matter what anyone else ever says. They are wrong. I am right.” Mr. Micheals walks away very calmly from the blackboard and sits at his desk.
“You may do homework for the rest of class.” He states this so normally, Ilona could tell the cork is back in.
Till the final bell rang several minutes later, they all sit in silence and attempt to complete some of the schoolwork.
Ilona gets up and quickly grabs her books when Clara comes up behind and clutches her arm.
“Outside now. She needs us,” she whispers as Susan passes, still stonefaced.
“Understood,” Ilona replies, knowing that her friend needs her.
And she will stand by her.
Song For This Chapter: Hurt by Nine Inch Nails
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.