Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What The Ear Hears In The Mirror

"Well Jeffrey what are we going to do about this?" Mrs. Dittmer asked. This was one of her favorite questions. Always we. The words she used made it seem like she was going to be part of the solution, and by that she meant that she was not at fault. Jeffrey knew the only answer that would please her.

"I guess I've got to buckle down. Try harder you know. I keep getting distracted."

Music filed in under the door, or maybe through the cracks in the windows. It was there in the background. A piano was being played somewhere, it sounded mournful and yet somehow light.

Mrs. Dittmer smiled a tight smile. Her lips were pressed together so tightly when she smiled like that, trying to cover that snaggletooth. "No Jeffrey. We've tried that too many times already. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go to your parents with this. Yes, I've already contacted Principal Sorenson and he agrees with me. We're really going to have to do something about these test scores of yours."

The piano played on in the background, and Jeffrey tapped his foot lightly in time.

"Please don't, you don't know what they'll say. I promise I'll do better, let me take the test over again, I'll prove I can do better."

"Jeffrey that wouldn't be fair to the other students, they don't get the chance to take this test over again, and neither should you."

The music was swelling now. Swelling in Jeff's ears. Didn't she hear it? Why didn't she hear it? It had to be a concert pianist visiting or something like that.

And then something happened that nobody could explain. The world jumped forward twenty-three years in time.

Mrs. Dittmer was dead, cancer. The middle school had closed, republican governor.

In the meantime Jeffrey had gone on to be an average student, and had graduated high school and college and gotten by as the manager of a local office supply store.

Peculiarly twenty-three years in the future Jeffrey found himself as an adult, with all the little betrayals of age, staring into the mirror and having no memory of the past twenty three years. He was a handful of years shy of forty and still felt like he was fourteen staring up at Mrs. Dittmer.

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