"" Writer's Wanderings: An Apple for the Teacher--Conclusion

Saturday, September 09, 2006

An Apple for the Teacher--Conclusion

Torn paper swung from the bulletin boards. The chalkboard was spattered with tempra paint. Broken jars of color spewed their contents onto the tiled floor. Desks were overturned and schoolbooks lay open where they had landed from their flight.

Jill's desk was still upright but books, papers, pencils, tissues, everything that had been on top of it was now heaped on the floor. In the corner behind the desk stood Cassie, her back turned to Jill.

"Cassie!" Jill felt her fury rise. As the child turned, the red ceramic apple, Jill's prized possession, slipped from her hands and shattered against the floor.

"What have you done!" Jill cried out as she surveyed the broken pieces of her dream strewn at Cassie's feet. Her face flushed and her cheeks burned.

Cassie stared at Jill and backed into the corner. She slid down the wall until she was curled into a ball, knees tight under her chin. Fear lit her eyes.

Jill started forward, frustration and anger raged. But before she reached Cassie something--the memory of another frightened little girl, made her stop. A tidal wave of tears cascaded down Jill's face. She dropped to her knees sobbing. Slowly she began picking up the broken ceramic pieces.

Cassie peered over her knees at Jill. Cautiously she rose, picked up the tissue box, and made her way to Jill. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I'm not a very nice person. People keep giving me away because I'm bad. My new mommy prob'ly will too." She handed Jill a tissue.

Jill looked up. She realized what had kept her from reaching out to Cassie. It had been her own fear of rejection and failure. She had been afraid to get too close to this child who reminded her too much of herself. The pain that she tried to shield herself from was mirrored in those large sad eyes looking at her now. Gently she took Cassie into her arms. "I can always get another ceramic apple. It wasn't nearly as special as you are."

For the first time, Cassie smiled.

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