The Teacher

Written based on a real conversation when most of the students in the class were absent.

She doesn't know. She doesn't understand at all. She's the teacher who talks to you, who notices that you're alive. She can't understand why you lack confidence, why you're so shy. You walk with your head down, and hope that she doesn't notice you when you slink over to your desk and try to pull out the chair without making too much noise. It'll be ok if she just says high, but when she starts asking questions, you want to fall through a hole in the floor.

You're uncomfortable, and she knows it, and you know she thinks that it's entirely her fault. You try to tell her, "No, I'm always like this. It's not just you. Don't worry about it." She doesn't believe you though, and you know that if you were in her place, you probably wouldn't believe you either.

She asks you to sit in her extra chair, the purple one next to her desk, because she wants to talk to you. You do, even though you preferred to stand on the other side of her desk looking at the patterns on the floor tiles. It's not that you dislike her, but rather that you're scared of people. You like to keep your distance.

She starts talking to you, asking questions. She begins by asking, "Why is your self esteem so low? Why are you so shy?" You don't know how you're supposed to answer these questions. Instead, you simply sit and stare at the floor. You notice the patterns on the dirt stained tiles, the wheels on her chair, the bottom of her jacket. You realize that the silence has carried on too long, that it's becoming awkward. You finally manage to respond, "I don't know. I'm just shy. I don't know why though." You speak so quietly that she asks you to repeat yourself.

You try to cover your face with your hands, because you can't stand to be looked at, even when you're talking to people. It doesn't really matter that some people see your shyness as a problem. To you it's part of life, not that you could actually say that to anyone. You just nervously pull on your clothes, your hair, the rubber bands around your wrists, anything at all. You don't know what to do, or what to say.

Soon her questions move on to home. "How is your relationship with your parents? Do you have any siblings, how many, and are they older or younger than you? Do you spend much time with your family?" You don't like these questions, because you know that these are the types usually asked before you're sent to the school psychologist. You answer anyway though, because you feel like you should. She is, after all, someone who is willing to acknowledge your existence. She's nice to you, except for the fact that she makes you uncomfortable.

You want to tell. That's all you really want to do is tell her. You won't though. You know you can't tell the truth. Do you want to be blamed for someone losing custody of her younger children, or for making it impossible for her to find a job in her field? So you don't tell. You put up more walls, create some more masks. You try to pretend that you aren't crying internally, that you aren't in intense pain. You know that you must not break down. You tell yourself that all will go smoothly, for her and for you, so long as you don't tell her that you're life has gone downhill fast. 'It's ok', you tell yourself, 'everything will be fine'. It won't though, and you know it, but you feel safe when you talk to her, as uncomfortable as she makes you. 'Those who are silent are safe', you remind yourself. Then the bell rings, and you're free.