Sometimes you sit in an empty classroom after sixth period with the lights off, breathing in the empty. All day the room has been so full you can still hear the echoes of chair creaks and human shouts, the popping of the lids of highlighters, the the clatter of gathering binders after a bell. In the silence, you hear your name again and again. Ms. O———. Ms. O———. If you’re a teacher, your own name in a slight whine is an earworm that’s hard to shake.
Sometimes you’re at a swamped desk full of discarded tardy slips with your head in your hands. Sometimes you’re digging through piles of forms looking for the right one, the one you need just before the meeting in five minutes, the meeting you just got called to on the intercom. The meeting that’s going to delay your first trip to the bathroom all day by another thirty minutes.
Other times you sit in a chair like this one, sun beaten and worn, starting at a tree growing from a crack between two rocks. No one needs you. In that moment, for the first time in a long time, you hear the wind in the grass instead of the round syllables of your name.