Grit on the classroom floor. Overflowing bin. Usual teacher’s crap everywhere, I stuff it aside to sit. The kids are pretending to work and I’m pretending to care about them being on task – it’s all for show because everyone knows that no one works for the casual teacher. 

Kid hovers in front of me, wants to talk about love and its meaning, how people only love the outside of others now, not the inside. I nod in agreement.

Kid goes on to tell me he’s tried to kill himself thirteen times then states that his preferred method is by hanging. I’m nodding at him, asking him to step outside while I formulate a crisis plan for this kid so I can cover my ass and save his and he’s telling me about his PTSD and his OCD and his anxiety and his anorexia and I’m nodding to show I’m listening as I sift through the medicine cabinet in my mind looking for the cure I usually dose myself up on, for my anxiety, my PTSD, my depression and my contemplation with death and I even think as far back as my uncle who killed himself and that time I found my dad trying to gas himself in the car and I’m still nodding and formulating my action plan that will make the hierarchy take this kid from my hands so I can keep them clean if he does go home tonight and hang himself. 

All I want to do is give him the best lesson I’ve ever learned in my life, that there’s no point, because if you kill yourself you don’t kill the problem, it still exists in the world, because the problem aint in you, kid, but that kind of lesson isn’t on the curriculum.

This story made the long list in the New Zealand National Flash Fiction Day Competition (NFFD).

Thanks to Thomas Hawk for the use of your creative commons picture on Flickr