Miss Ham and Eggar
It was somewhere in her mid-thirties that Dana Eggar gave up on her dream of meeting someone special, settling down and raising a family. It was also about this time that she completely devoted herself to teaching.
She had been a 5th grade teacher at Walcott Elementary for the last 12 years but it was only in the last few that she had really hit her stride. She was easily the most liked teacher amongst the student population and the parents had no issues driving their children over to her house once a month for her notoriously fun “popcorn parties.” The simple fact was that the parents trusted her completely for the best of reasons. She sincerely loved the kids and her affection was returned.
Students who came back from junior high and the local high school even felt comfortable enough around her to call her by the name that the younger kids whispered and giggled out of her earshot… Miss Ham and Eggar. The nickname went all the way back to her own elementary years but she would never admit that to her former pupils and take away their pride of thinking that they coined it themselves.
It was midday and the children were running around on the playground behind the school. As she sat and watched her charges scamper around she realized that she enjoyed recess as much as any of them. These were the moments where the solitude left her alone.
She never understood why she never found Mr. Right. She was not an unattractive woman and she had both wit and a nurturing nature. Many nights as she laid in her bed staring at the ceiling she wondered if that was perhaps exactly why she slept alone. There was something good about her that made a man feel bad about not giving her the love and devotion she so obviously deserved so they usually ran for the hills. She had dated but it was rare that she made it more than a few dates when the man would get a “shit or get off the pot” feeling that he normally didn’t feel around other women. She both laughed and cried about this warped male radar that had driven away so many interesting prospects.
So she poured herself into her students.
It was a nice day and only a few clouds hung in the sky. She closed her eyes and felt the warmth of the sun on her face. A light breeze moved over the pavement like a sigh.
She couldn’t help but watch the kids playing four square. For some reason they took this game very seriously and the social order often times revolved around which child could dominate this seemingly innocuous game played with a red rubber ball. Despite the occasionally heated arguments over whether a ball was in or out Miss Eggar found it a lot less worrisome than the dodge ball games that used to have the red rubber ball bouncing off of faces and groins and seemingly requiring her constant medical opinions on everything from scrapes to contusions.
Let them argue all they want about who is in and who is out. If they didn’t bleed then it was a step in the right direction as far as she was concerned.
Today’s game was particularly well attended and there was a line of boys and girls shifting their weight from one foot to the other anxiously as they waited their turn to get into the first square and show off their ball-slapping prowess.
As it was almost noon the sun was nearly overhead. As she watched the children there was something gnawing away at the back of her mind. Something wasn’t right but she had no idea what it could be.
Something seemed a little off about the scene.
It started to annoy her. What was it about these kids playing four square that had her intellect annoyed? She laughed and made the analogy to herself that it was as if she was looking at a Where’s Waldo picture but she had neither the time or interest to actually look for him.
She closed her eyes and tried to enjoy the breeze again.
It had stopped.
She opened her eyes again and suddenly found the cause of her anxiety.
Some the kids were casting long shadows while some of them cast very small ones.
She wanted to laugh it off but when she started to look closer she even noticed that some of the children had shadows that went in the opposite direction of the child next to them.
A few of them cast two distinct shadows.
She wanted the breeze back.
Her mind raced for explanations. Her mouth had gone dry even though she had no idea what this could even mean and appeared to pose no visible threat to her class. It had to be some weather phenomena that would easily be explained by a science textbook.
She felt the protective side of her personality coming forward with surprising force.
She saw a few shadows racing around, seemingly playing happily, that had no corresponding person to cast them.
Recess needed to be over.
She fumbled for the whistle in her pocket and looked down.
At her own shadow.
The shadow that had one arm up.
Waving back at her.