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Not Just Another School Year by Sandy McKee

Published by Saundra McKee at Smashwords. Copyright 2013. Saundra McKee

All characters and events in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. While some of the places mentioned actually exist, they are used in an entirely fictional manner.

Fall 1997

Looking out over the monotonous rows of tan desks alined between the canyon walls of beige cement blocks on brown tiled floors, I took a deep breath. No one recognized silver anniversaries in teaching. Ten years at the high school level, then moving on to the much more relaxed environment of a state university. As long as one prepared and was enthusiastic, wrote a few articles, won a couple grants and did a bit of service, one could expect regular promotions and a comfortable life. It afforded one the excitement of travel and other enjoyable pursuits during generous breaks and frequent sabbatical leaves. But the best part was the students.

My students were, without fail, courteous, respectful and engaging if not at all times especially intellectual or curious. When I was in the classroom teaching, it was the only time that I could completely lose myself and not think about the Horrible Thing I’d done. Most students were finishing a master’s degree in education or an administrative certificate. We’d meet each week and they’d spin war stories from their various classrooms. It was my job to impart wisdom based on the latest research and inspire them to conduct their own analytical studies. My students tended to like me. It wasn’t too surprising. They were the focus of my life and I gave them all that I had. I looked and acted the role of the beloved educator with conservative dress and a modest lifestyle. More often than I wished, I found myself invited to their weddings and other significant social events. I never wanted to blur the line that separated professor from student for fear of any suggestion of impropriety on the part of jealous and less congenial colleagues. As I smile engagingly while trying to size up the fall group of twenty somethings who enter the room balancing textbooks, caffeinated drinks and assorted snacks, I felt a numbness descend over me. It wasn’t a stroke or a heart attack. I’d witnessed those in my parents when they were in their early eighties. It was shock. I fought the urge to reach into my purse for the anti-anxiety medicine that I’d not been without since The Catastrophe of my early twenties. I reached for the water bottle on my desk and took a deep swallow. I practice some of the deep breathing and relaxation techniques I’d used in the past when My Sin seemed like it was about to catch up with me.

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