It was October, but sometimes in Canada that can mean it’s still absolutely Summer time. Before school started in September, my Mother had received an envelope from the school full of important information. I assumed it was important as my Mother was very obviously bored while she was reading it and I had noticed that any time adults were doing something important, it was usually very boring. Like taxes, I guess.
Apparently in the envelope there was something that said I would be in something called a ‘Portable’ for the third grade. Not a small outdoor bathroom, but a large outdoor classroom. Less exciting, but also less smelly. I was grateful for this differentiation. The portable was separate from the other school building and my Mother said that she had heard a lot of other schools were having trouble with their portables on account of them being found to have poisonous mould. If my portable had mould I would have to be sent home. Who knew grade three was to hold so much intrigue? I couldn’t help but to imagine what grade seven would be like.
The portable turned out to be a small, long, metal box that sat in the middle of the piping hot schoolyard tarmac. With the sun beating down on the box and the tarmac cooking us from below, it was very much like being in a microwave oven. I imagined it was not too different from a story about two dutch kids I had read. A witch had tried to cook them in an oven or something. A stove? I don’t know. A hot chamber, let's say.
Strangely enough, we ended up having a teacher who looked like a witch. Not at first, though.
The first teacher was Ms. Barr, we only had her for one brief but bless'd month. She was very much how I had imagined the nice teacher from the book Matilda. Young, short and small with light brown hair and a fair complexion that paired well with her gentle demeanour. No one acted up around Ms. Barr. She was too nice. Being rude around Ms. Barr felt like farting in a flower garden. None of us wanted anything mean or nasty coming anywhere close to Ms. Barr. She was our Ms. Barr.
Then, for reasons unknown to us, Ms.Barr was sent to another class and in came The Witch: Mrs. Adams. She was tall and too skinny. Her face looked like a skeleton and she was always exhausted. My guess was she hadn’t heard of coffee ‘cause her teeth were also much whiter than most of the other teachers’ teeth. I never got the chance to smell her breath, but it probably didn’t smell like regular teacher breath either on account of not drinking coffee.
One day, while dropping me off at school, my mother spotted Mrs. Adams walking towards our car. ‘She looks like she’s packing for a trip around the world with all those bags.’ she said to me with a sharp grin, pinching the taught skin under her own eyes where on Mrs. Adams there was nothing but grey loose flesh. ‘Hello Deirde!’ my Mother said after rolling down the window, ‘Hello Rozanne.’ Mrs. Adams sighed. ‘A word?’ she asked, looking at me then back at my Mother.
‘Get out.’ my Mother said, pinching and pulling my ear as if to launch me from the car this way, then smiling back at Mrs. Adams. ‘Of course!’.
I leapt out of the car and passed Mrs. Adams with a smile and a ‘Good Morning Mrs. Adams’ before dashing off to enjoy the temperate tarmac ahead of spending the day roasting in the portable.
That day was normal. That night was not.
At the dinner table when my Mother asked me about my day, I had told her it was fine but that Mrs. Adams was the most likely to win the title of Most Boring Teacher Ever if she kept up her efforts. She always stepped out of class and sometimes she even fell asleep in her chair while delivering a lesson. In a strange turn of events my Mother, who always enjoyed scathing reviews of other people, snapped me shut.
‘Not another word about Mrs. Adams. She’s a lovely, incredible woman who is doing her best.’
Her tone was severe and impatient, which was her resting tone, but she also wiped a tear away from her eye. This was disarming. My Mother did not cry unless she wanted something done or bought for her.
Later that evening I overheard my parents talking about Mrs. Adams. My Father had also found my Mother’s reaction to be a bit ‘Oh Tee Tee’ as he said. I don’t know why he didn’t just say ‘over the top’.
Turns out Mrs. Adams was a walking skeleton for a reason. She, much like Jessica Baity had had at the end of second grade, had a canker. But apparently Mrs. Adams had a special kind of canker. Her canker was deep inside of her stomach near her butt and she had to go to the doctor all the time for nuclear radiation. This was great news to ME as it meant that if Mrs. Adams was using nuclear radiation to get stronger and heal her stomach canker, then I would be able to use it one day to gain a super power of some sort. I stole away to my bedroom and began to write a list of super powers I should consider before consulting with a doctor when I was ready to get my nuclear radiation. I went to bed thrilled that night. The world was a wonderful place!
Just when I didn’t think it was possible, things got even better. The next day, tired old Mrs. Adams was no longer our teacher! Mrs. Gordon, our principal, came to tell us that Mrs. Adams was gone and that Ms. Barr would be taking back over again due to the unfortunate circumstances.
Unfortunate? I thought to myself. Adults are so bizarre. Clearly they don’t know how important it is to have a fun teacher when you’re cooking away in a big hot metal box. Didn’t they know we felt like we were being microwaved alive in there? Cooked from the inside out? Roasting on a spit? Truth be told, I bet Mrs. Adams left because she was tired of feeling microwaved all the time, too.