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My Cool Art Teacher

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Carlie

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« on: 11:18:12 PM 10/21/17 »
   There was no happiness during middle school, only varying levels of misery. You can say that there were only a few things that didn’t completely suck during middle school. For me, it was my art teacher.

   She was the coolest person in my life back then. Back in the long lost years of 2008, none of my teachers were allowed to show their tattoos or have piercings. Every teacher I’ve ever seen up until then were the most modest housewives in all of suburban Texas. My art teacher would bend the rules by wearing a jacket outside of her classroom to hide her full sleeve tats, but she rarely wear her jacket in her room. She must have somehow convinced the administration to allow her to wear her thick silver septum piercing because that thing was always in.

   I remember one time I had it set in my mind to dress up crazy for picture day, and wore pigtails to school. My art teacher thought it was a great idea and added bows to the pigtails. I think I looked pretty great the way it turned out.
   
She would tell us all sorts of stories about the crazy adventures she would have outside of school, or about the things she did in her past. I don’t quite remember all of them, but the good ones involved a little bit of alcohol. In one of them she took a school trip to France, and told us how she was in love with everything there. Like every good artist, she went to the Louvre, admired the architecture, and learned how to cook crepes!

   When she told us about crepes, none of us had ever heard of them before and she promised to make some for us after a class project and make a party out of it. I, personally, was the most excited for this party and promised to bring the cups.

   A week before the party, she had broken her foot on one of her crazy adventures. Well, it was more like a car ran over it after a party, but that was my wacky art teacher for you. She was also a bit wackier thanks to the medicine that the doctor gave her.
   
Then came the day of the party. Her class was during the first period of school, but she was unusually late. The class sat by the door with plastic ware and paper plates, I with my cups, ready for the party we hoped was still happening today.
   
When my teacher came she was disheveled, hobbling on one foot, coffee in one hand, keys in the other, and in her arms filled with strawberries, whip cream, and pancake mix. We all helped her into the classroom and started to break out our party supplies. One of my friends was asked to go to her car and bring in a hot plate she brought from home.
   
She told us that she needed us all to be quiet because she didn’t exactly ask the principal, whose office was just down a corridor, if they could cook crepes in the art room or if we could have a party.
   
I remember looking back at her before sitting in my chair at one of the round tables with my friends. She was standing at her desk with a rolling metal TV cart next to her that she repurposed to help her teach. She was applying her cherry red lipstick, which meant she was getting into her morning routine.
   
I turned around and sat in my chair letting the sounds of the normal art room chaos, though slightly softened by us wanting a secret party, wash over me. She was the kind of teacher that was comfortable with chaos in her classroom she knew how to handle it. I’m pretty sure I was talking to my friend about the manga I was reading at the time, Chobits, or how two anime boys looking into each other's eyes longingly was considered ‘yaoi’ when there was a huge BANG and the class went silent.
   
My head snapped toward the BANG. I remember seeing the metal cart rolling from the desk and my art teacher, gone from where she was standing. She was on the ground. I'm guessing she had hit the cart on the way down. Her body was twisted, her arms curled up, and her hands clenched into tight fists. Drool was leaking from her mouth. Her eyes bulged out of their sockets, and only stayed in her head thanks to the optic nerve’s tight grasp. Her whole body was convulsing, and she kept making the sound that you would make if someone was beating on your chest while you kept a steady tone but her tongue kept flopping around.
   
There were a sickening 15 to 30 seconds where no one moved, and then another thud.
   
From the corner of my eye, I saw the same cheerful friend that help carry in the hotplate from her car, throw down the books he was carrying and sprint out of the door. This snapped another girl out of the shock, and she ran too. The rest of us stayed and watched the grunting and thumping of the coolest art teacher in the school’s body convulsing on the ground.

Her wide eyes stared out at all of us.

I don’t know how long it took for the PE coach to run in with my friend. Him yelling at us to get help is what snapped me out of the shock. I ran into the corridor, and luckily found one of my teachers who called 911 for me.

At the time I felt so helpless I couldn’t even do that.

It still feels weird to type that when I think about the situation. How a room full of kids were just as helpless as a teacher having a seizure.


[Edits: I added the reason for the BANG and a sentence describing her being comfortable with chaos as a way to make her seem like she had everything under control. I also did some formating things]
« Last Edit: 03:22:37 AM 10/25/17 by Carlie »

Rika84

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« Reply #1 on: 09:13:55 AM 10/22/17 »
Ah, the long lost year of 2008... I like the setup.

How did this teacher stay employed? My goodness... I feel like this would be a little more believable in a high school setting. I like the vibe that these children feel like they have a friend in a "cool adult". If the kids were teenagers, it might feel more like they were complicit in something rebellious rather than just being strung along by an irresponsible teacher. But maybe that's not the feeling you're looking for.

When I look at the ending by itself I get that, when the teacher has the seizure, the kids are seeing their trusted adult suddenly lose control. But leading up to it, the teacher is a character with bad judgement and little control anyway. As a reader, the seizure feels a bit like "Where is this coming from?" because there's not much to tie the loss of control of this situation to the rest of the story. Have there been times when the teacher "saved the day" after something she did almost went haywire? Has she always been a solid guardian for the kids despite her wild tales?

Finally, this is picky as heck, but, the "BANG". What banged...? Did she drop some cookware? Did she take a chair down with her? Did she hit a radiator on the way down? I just felt like a BANG was setting me up for something of a different nature than a spontaneous medical emergency.
(You may laugh at me, but when I read the BANG, I thought the kid sent to the car had found her handgun and accidentally shot her. x_x)

I love this teacher character though. With all the mischief she brings to the table to brighten up the kids' dull, regulated world. <3 I personally wouldn't mind hearing more stories about her.

Thank you for sharing this story! I hope my thoughts have been helpful and not overwhelming... lol

Carlie

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« Reply #2 on: 03:07:35 PM 10/22/17 »
Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly and with such a detailed critique. I based this off of a true event and didn't know how to adapt it to a real meaningful story but what you said will help me tweak some things. So to address some things.

I was going to explain where the "BANG" came from but I was afraid it would distract from seizure. (it was from her hitting her head on the rolling metal cart next to her)

Second I wanted to make it seem like she had everything under control with her getting into her morning routine before losing all control. But I will better define that in that paragraph.

Thanks again.

Rika84

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« Reply #3 on: 04:09:00 PM 10/22/17 »
I think it would be fairly natural to 1) Hear a bang, 2) turn to see the cart rolling/fallen, and then 3) realize the teacher is on the floor, having caused the sound. You don't always see the whole picture the moment you look around.

mikemacdee

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« Reply #4 on: 05:46:01 AM 11/24/17 »
With the unexplained BANG and the way you describe her suffering the seizure, I thought she had been shot in the head. Then no shooter was revealed, and you explained it as a seizure, and I was left scratching my head.

Either way, I really didn't see much point to the story. I get that it's a slice of life thing, but even those serve a purpose in the end. The point of this story seems to be "I had this cool teacher, but she had a seizure once." So what? It has no relevance to the story and doesn't appear to have any relevance to the narrator beyond the fact that it happened. Even if I had been right and she had been shot dead by someone, it would still feel pointless overall.

There's gotta be a reason the story is being told. So either the seizure event has to have clearly defined relevance to the character narrating the story, or something more meaningful needs to happen with the teacher.
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