Chapter 32: Changes Strike The Classroom!
“Must be a substitute,” Clara whispers to Ilona and Susan.
“I don’t know,” Susan whispers back, “This seems more… permanent.”
Clara and Susan make their way to their seats at the far end of the class from Ilona, constantly glancing at the normal spectacle of the new teacher, which everyone else is quietly staring at as well.
The new teacher, in response, is just blindly going on with preparing the lessons. Or something. Whatever paperwork and such teachers do.
Within a minute every student settles in and are staring, very very politely, at this stranger who is not Mr. Michaels. At that exact moment, the new teacher finally finishes sorting the endless piles and pops up and looks at the class. And greets them a huge, bright smile that Ilona immediately loves.
“Hello, welcome, salutations, and may the road rise to meet you my friends!” she exclaims.
Ilona loves this whole entire sentence. The wording, the way it sounds, and the meanings behind it, all strike a vibe deep inside her. This new teacher feels so honest and real to her.
The new teacher walks out from behind the desk and goes up to the blackboard, grabs a long piece of white chalk, flips it in the air and catches it, and turns and writes large letters with an elegant flourish. She completes her name and spins around, and again flips the chalk. Ilona, and all the rest, are mesmerized.
“My name is Mrs. Chase and I will be your substitute teacher for the next little while. Mr. Michaels is on a leave of absence. How long, I have no clue. Could be a week. Could be a month. Could be a decade. Till he returns, I shall be your tormentor, dementor, and center,” she stops talking, shakes her head causing her bright red hair to shimmer in Ilona’s eyes, and continues, “wait, that doesn’t really rhyme, or maybe it does? Oh well, back to the now of now.”
Mrs. Chase spreads her arms wide, looking to Ilona as if she is about to give the entire class a huge group hug, and rallies them all.
“How was everyone’s Christmas! I hope it was merry! And how was everyone’s New Year’s! I hope it was happy! What say you all?”
Ilona sits in stunned silence, just like everyone around her. The strangeness of having a teacher so nice, so personable, so… different, feels wonderful. The question takes a second or two to register to Ilona, and she, and the rest of the class, respond as one with a mighty cheer.
Mrs. Chase laughs, than quickly starts to settle them down.
“My bad. Really should have thought that question through better!” She says while shushing them all her finger.
“So lets try this again, only without me causing inadvertent chaos and wanton destruction this time.” Mrs. Chase continues, now leaning back against the blackboard and flipping the chalk back and forth between her hands. Ilona’s eyes follow the flying chalk as it dances in the air, loving the beauty of the moment.
“Lets’ start with some basic info about moi. I am Mrs. Chase. I am originally from the United States, but moved up here a few years ago because of my husbands work. We have two small children Sharon and Richard, and one cat, Winnie, who always manages to scamper away and never be seen. That darn cat!” she giggles at her joke that Ilona does not get, but makes a mental note to google later. “And no, I am not on facebook or twitter, or any of those other things I have never heard of, BUT…” she stops and waves her hands like a magician, “I am on Goodreads! Feel free to add me, I am Chase1994, but please wait till recess to use your smartphones to do that.”
Mrs. Chase glances and nods at something at the back of the class and Ilona turns to see Clara’s hand is up. “Yes, Clara?”
“Why 1994?” Clara asks.
“Because that was a very special year for me, grade ten and all that. Any other questions?” Mrs. Chase replies.
Ilona’s hand shoots up, without her knowledge or even fully understanding why, and Mrs. Chase points right at her and smiles her name. Ilona loves how she says her name and the smile and the hair and the chalk and everything about Mrs. Chase, and with no question in her mind realizes she must now ask something, anything, all to fulfill the deal made when she raised her hand. The first, most important thought passing through her mind becomes the words she speaks to this wonderful stranger.
“Could you be our teacher forever?” Ilona asks.
Immediate cheers erupt from the entire grade five classroom.
Mrs. Chase laughs, pushes her red hair behind her ear, than starts shushing the class again with her finger.
“Well thank you Ilona, that is very nice of you, but as I said, I have no idea how long my term here shall be,” she states, than looks at the back of the class again, “Yes, Susan?”
“How do I know all our names already?” Susan asks while putting her arm down.
“Because I am a teacher and it is the right and respectful thing to do. And I am blessed with an exceptional memory, much to my husband and children’s chagrin,” she says, tossing the chalk one more time in the air, catching it, then putting it away.
“Which moves onto our next piece of business, something you could help me with Susan, is to figure out where you all are in the curriculum. The notes I was left are problematic, and according to your records, you have an excellent memory, just like I do. Could you show me your notebooks so I could get an idea of where you all are at?” She clasps her hands together, smiles even wider, and continues. “And the rest of you munchkins can read, or talk quietly amoungst yourselves, or plot to overthrow the government for the next few minutes.”
Mrs. Chase walks back to her desk and sits down, all with the sudden soundtrack of mutterings and whispering from the students. Susan gathers her notebooks and heads right to Mrs. Chase, with Ilona noticing the warm, happy smile, glowing on her face. Popping up beside Ilona, making her jump, is Clara.
“Mrs. Chase is amazing!” she whispers, “I have been texting these cosmic developments to Maddie, and she is spreading the news like wildfire! This is so awesome!”
“I know,” Ilona whispers back, “Mrs. Chase is the best teacher ever. And we have only had her for five minutes.”
“One funny thing about Mrs. Chase through,” Clara whispers even quieter.
“What’s that?” Ilona barely says.
“She kinda looks like someone I thought I saw on television once. And for the life of me I don’t know why,” Clara says.
Song For This Chapter: Caring Hands by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.