via Daily Prompt
“I just went around it twice, but without twisting the strip, I just went around twice, but didn’t twist the strip, look, see.”
The class nods homogeneously. Mr. Tokida pauses, the ring of paper held up in his left hand, because he can hear a scuffling in the corridor. His pupils look at the door, he looks at the door. What’s this? thinks Tokida.
Grim-faced, the Head comes in, flanked by two police officers.
There is a intake of breath, shared across the room, everyone breathing each other’s air. With instinctual, involuntary action, Tokida raises his hand to hush the room. He puts the ring of paper down on the desk.
“How can I help you, Mrs. Burrow?” asks Tokida of the head, half suspecting the reason for the visit to be truancy, or vandalism, or smoking just off-site, on the field where the students play football and lay in the sun.
“I think you should step outside, for a moment, with me…Mr. Tokida.”
Blushing, Mr. Tokida says, of course, of course, and nods to his students, who watch, silently, whilst some begin to whisper, and Mr. Tokida and the Head and the two police officers all leave the room.
After a moment there is a scream in the corridor, a guttural scream, a scream of Mr. Tokida, not the Head or the police officers, and all the students turn to look at each other, and ask, silently, with their eyes, too shamed to talk, what was that scream? Why would Mr. Tokida scream like that?
The teacher comes back into the room with a red face, stained with tears, his mouth is contorted. All his teeth grinding together. He rifles through his desk, flinging papers into the air, and the pupils watch from their desks, silently, and the police officers and the Head watch from the door. Mrs. Burrows has her hand over her mouth. The officers look awkward, like they’ve seen it before, but can’t admit they have, because it would detract from the moment.
Mr. Tokida stops ripping through his desk drawer. He leans forwards and puts his head on the desk. Then, speaking into the wood, he says: “Class is dismissed.”
One by one the class files out, and they stare at Mr. Tokida, who still has his head on the desk, face down, his arms limp by his side. They pass the Head and the officers in the corridor and they catch each other’s eyes but no one says a word. Mrs. Burrows still has her hand over her mouth. Her eyes are watering. In her eyes the students see the word death.
One by one the class files out of the door at the end of the corridor, out into the sun.