I wrote this for a competition back in school, titled "Thank you, teacher".
I didn't win lol.
I found it just now and thought...why not. I'll just post it here.
I was quite shocked when I read it, to be honest. I didn't know I could write (marginally) well haha
However, the story was influenced by stuff I watched on TV and included elements that I am not in favour of in this present day.
Whatever. I was 17.
I hope you like it, stranger. Enjoy!
I stared expressionlessly out the window. Reaching my ears, the words coming out of Miss Lily’s mouth sounded like a buzzing noise that could easily be ignored. My mind travelled back to a fortnight ago; to the time Mother told me the bad news. The news brought my whole world crashing down that night.
I remembered how Mother crumpled onto the floor when she tried to tell me. I could not understand the words she was saying because she was gasping for breath as her sobs robbed her of air. The only thing I heard were whimpers of my father’s name. I shivered with fright as sadness clutched my heart. I held Mother tightly and let her stain my shirt with her tears. As we sat on the floor, the only thing that I could think of was how unfair life was. How unfair that other kids still have their fathers. That there was no possibility of them losing their fathers in a war. Nor in Iraq, for that matter.
The next day I found out that I assumed wrongly. Although, my wrong assumption did not bring any comfort to me, my father did not die. He was just missing, that was all. He went missing after a bomb exploded near his team’s campsite, taking all the soldiers in surprise. There was little chance of Father surviving, though. Many of the soldiers went missing after the bombing. Even worse, most of the missing was found dead.
I did not tell my friends about my father’s disappearance. In fact, I ignored them entirely. They tried to talk to me but did not succeed in gaining my attention. They gave up after a couple of tries, though. They did not know how to handle my silence. For the last couple of weeks, I have been eating less and less. Ever since that dreadful night, I have forgotten how to live. As guilty as I felt for not being strong enough for my mother, I could not help it. The possibility of losing my father was overwhelming.
“Jude? Jude, can you hear me?” I turned my head to the direction of the voice that was calling my name. Miss Lily was looking at me with the expression of worry etched onto her face. I gave a quick glance around the room and noticed the whole class was staring at me. “Jude, are you all right, love?” Miss Lily asked.
I inhaled deeply and gave out a heavy sigh as I told her I was fine. I then ignored everyone else and continued staring out the window. I noticed how chilly it was for spring. The bell rang loudly, bringing me out of my small, little world. I grabbed my bag, ready to make a quick escape when Miss Lily’s voice stopped me. “Jude, do you mind giving me a few minutes of your time?”
I looked curiously at her and said, “Pardon me, teacher, but I am afraid I might be late for History class. Mister Andrews does not take tardiness very well.” Instead of letting me go, she smiled and told me it was no problem. She will write a letter for me. She asked me to sit at my usual seat in the classroom and dragged a chair beside my table. She then just sat there, without saying anything.
The tension grew every second, as she scrutinised me and I, in return, looked everywhere except for her. “Jude, do you mind telling me what is wrong?” Miss Lily asked. I told her nothing was wrong. I told her I was perfectly fine and asked her if she would just let me go to History class now. She shook her head and mumbled something under her breath. I could care less about what she was saying, though. I wanted to leave the classroom desperately.
“I know about your father.” My head snapped towards her and I could feel my eyes widen with shock. She said Mother told her about it. “She could not have,” I replied with a slight trace of doubt. She never talked to me about Father. How could she have mentioned about him to my teacher, of all people? It is not like I do not like Miss Lily. It is just that she was always the type of teacher that students do not listen to. She gets easily bullied by children in this school and is not always taken seriously.
“Even your mother needs to tell someone about her missing husband, no matter how depressed she is about it,” Miss Lily softly informed me. “It is all right to talk about it. Your mother mentioned of how you refuse to talk about your father. Do you not see that there might be hope that your father is still alive?”
“My father is dead,” I bit back at her. I hastily turned my head towards the window, hoping she would not see my tears. A soft hand covered mine and Miss Lily said, “Jude, no matter how bad the situation is, you must have faith and hope. You are lucky that there might be a possibility of your father’s survival. Moreover, if you ask me, I am confident that your father is still alive.”
I slowly lifted my gaze and stared into a pair of eyes that were filled with confidence and hope. I nearly crumpled as I whispered, “You do?” She answered me with a nod and smiled as tears clouded up her eyes. That was when I started to cry. However, I did not cry quietly. Heart-wrenching sobs made their way out of my mouth and I found it hard to see anything through the pools of water coming out of my eyes. I felt Miss Lily hugging me, telling me everything was all right. To have confidence that Father would come home. I did not feel embarrassed that as a 13-year-old boy, I was crying like an infant on the shoulder of my teacher. All I felt was comfort. That someone wanted to help me and plant the feeling of hope inside of me.
That day, for the first time, I walked back home from school with a sense of calmness. Miss Lily gave me just what I needed, which were hope and faith. She made me feel at peace, for the first time in weeks. I felt a deep gratitude towards her and a ghost of a smile played on my lips. It had been a long time since I smiled, even if it is the smallest smile imaginable.
I swiftly went up the front porch steps with confidence radiating out of me. I opened the door with my back straight and hope swelling inside of me. As I hanged my coat on the coat rack, I heard the sound of faint sobs coming out of the living room. I anxiously made my way across the hallway, ready to comfort my mother. For now on, I wanted to be there for my mother. However, I stopped in my tracks as I looked into the living room.
My mother was standing with someone who was already comforting her. Her sobs were muffled because that person was hugging her tightly to his chest, not caring that her salted tears were staining his army uniform. He was crying, too. The figure then turned around and smiled tearfully at me and said, “Hello, son.” I cried with joy and ran towards my father, hugging both my parents as we all cried with delight. Even though my mind was preoccupied with the presence of Father, I could not help but thank Miss Lily for believing in me. Truly, only the best teachers would believe in their students and help them, even if it does not affect the teachers themselves. Making sure my parents could not hear, I whispered softly, “Thank you, teacher.”