She had to cover a senior Mathematics class for a colleague absent due to illness, inebriation or inquietude. The Deputy, even with his remarkable impersonation of meerkat mania, couldn’t find a replacement until a scan on her timetable indicated a gap, a sliver of space in the sardine can of a teacher’s day. And she was conscripted.
She told herself it would just be supervision.
She reminded herself of her poor mathematical ability. Learning the times tables at school was like undertaking a transoceanic crossing without the requisite life jackets. Her floaties were AFL football card packs. One pack for every table learned.
When she turned 24, marked by weekly rental payments, the obligatory sexual assault for all Australian women, full-time employment and a girlfriend, she read about a condition called Dyscalculia; maths dyslexia. This label summed up the terrible mental anguish she experienced when numbers spontaneously tangoed in their columns, and the gut-churning anxiety when a 7 was placed next to an italicised ‘x’.
It was a Mathematics class when, for the only time in her compulsory schooling, she was told to leave a lesson. All year, the teacher had taken an uncomfortable interest in spotlighting her numerical ineptitude. Today, this interest resulted in a 15 minute diatribe, delivered by the teacher from across the room and past 20 students who wore a plethora of expressions ranging from dangerous enjoyment to impotent sympathy.
The teacher reached her climax, showering the students in the front row: “You’re just plain stupid, aren’t you? What are you doing in this class anyway?”
The nausea rose from her stomach like the Kraken waking from a deep sleep.
She couldn’t manipulate her fingers to grasp her workbook off the desk, so she left it.
And as she walked through the doorway, the 96 page book sailed past her and landed like a wounded bird on the lino corridor.
Today she had to cover a senior Mathematics class. She walked into the room and took a small step to the right so that the door closed. The wall propped her up, supporting her skeleton.
For each question that required a level of comprehension beyond her AFL-inspired timetables, she prevaricated and bluffed. She dissembled and posed. And at the end of the lesson, she was a shaking bundle of disconnected tendons and cartilage that could only walk in small, robotic steps back to her office.
Her research into camouflage and the scientific principles of counter-shading and disruptive patterning is coming along nicely for the next time the Deputy attempts to find cover for senior Mathematics.