Ron and Don are in the same class. Jesus wept. Lovely, youthful, naive boy-god Jesus didn’t know the half of it. I go behind the burning bush outside the cafeteria and puke. They could so easily be separated, I tell the principal in her sheer gray blouse, on whatever arbitrary protocol you usually invoke to protect the lives of teachers. The fabric of her bra includes a sparkling thread which filigrees. But pairing them will nullify them both, she says, and you will take the credit.

—According to what prolegomenous pedagogical model?
—According to I say so.
—We will never marry, you know, and this is why.
—This is not why.

Ron and Don have their heads together when I enter the classroom. The air around them sizzles. My other students watch from at least two seats away from Ron and Don except that the new boy Riley has drifted into their orbit. His hair has begun to stand. He doesn’t know why. In the time it takes me to write my name on the board with dusty red chalk, Ron disappears. The children gape past me, stricken. I smell hot sparking at my shoulder and turn. My nose brushes Ron’s nose. I ricochet backwards and, falling, snap the chalk ledge from the wall. A conversation happens in my head:

—So much for your lesson plan, darling.
—It was more of an experiment than a plan.
—I understand bold science, darling, but the downside hurt my head.
—It could have been worse.
—It may be worse. I’m still unconscious. When will you call me darling?

Ron and Don are everywhere at once and also nowhere. The more I look at them the more they dart and materialize. Riley is gone, is hiding, or has dropped out of physics forever.

Copyright © September 21, 2008 David Hodges

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