So Chuck Wendig who really puts out the best flash fiction challenges I can find provided a link to a site that generates names for American military operations, we were to choose one and use the title for the story. So please enjoy Rioting Butterflies and hope to goodness that one day I write Beware our Nail Biting Lover!
The teacher stood at the front of the class. As she did every day.
She had loved school, that’s why she had become a teacher in the first place. Sure, like every kid even she’d had days where she didn’t want to go. Days when she’d faked nausea to get her nanna to come in her pale blue Holden and collect her, and they’d go back to her place where the clock ticked loudly and play checkers and eat honey toast and sip on luke warm sweet tea. Who wouldn’t want to skip school to do that.
But overall she’d loved school.
She looked over her class. The most flattering description she could summon was they were a motley bunch. These kids sure as hell did not love school.
As a group they were surly, disinterested, rebellious, disengaged, unreachable. Good god she didn’t even know how she dragged herself out of bed to come here each morning. Thank everything that was holy she wouldn’t have to do it ever again after Friday.
In the back corner, always the back corner, did students think there was some sort of forcefield that protected them from a teachers’ gaze, really. In the back corner two girls were tattooing themselves with a compass point, one had a ring through her nose, the other had one side of her head shaved, the remainder sticking in the air like a cockatoo.
In the centre the Winterson kid was chatting up the new girl, he was notorious for getting caught with his pants down behind the tuck shop. Sad thing was, he was usually alone.
Vittorio Mayes actually looked like he was asleep. Typical. There were a few making a vague attempt at today’s assignment. She’d given them a simple essay topic – Who do you most admire. It was intended as a practice for when they would need to write college applications.
Three, four, five…. eleven. About eleven kids out of the 23 that had bothered to turn up were actually writing something.
She knew what the papers would bring, I admire Kim Kardashian cos she has loads of money and a really nice butt, I admire my mum cos she works two jobs and is always there for us, I admire Ms Sylvester cos she teaches us real good and gives us good grades, I admire insert football superstar name cos he is almost as good as I am at football and he makes loads of money and has a smoking hot wife.
Fabulous, she can’t wait to grade those papers.
Anne Sylvester is only 29. Far too young to be this cynical but this school has sucked the life from her. On Friday she will close this classroom door, drop the ungraded papers in the trash and join her friend Kate for a cross country road trip. The teacher will be an exteacher, she will quit her job, has already given notice on her apartment and is off on an adventure. She’s hoping to find a town she loves, to stop there and find a job, maybe selling books, that would be nice.
Today is dull, come Friday she knows there will be colour. She smiles.
‘Hey Ms Sylvester, what’s so funny?’
‘Your hair Reece, how many colours does one person need in their hair?’
Reece is a little too handsome for a high school boy, yesterday he had bleach blond hair that fell messily to his shoulders. Today, his hair is striped, purple, red, blue, green.
‘Only three miss,’ he has a seriously disarming grin.
Only three, the red and blue must be combining to make the purple.
‘And who did you let do that to you?’
Reece’s partner in random crimes was nicknamed Skuzz because it was rumoured his parents were first cousins.
The teacher looks over to see Skuzz has orange hair.
‘What’s with the colours? You’re giving me a headache.’
The bell sounds, Valentino wakes and the kids tumble out the door, shoving past her desk. They drop their papers on the desk as they pass, some falling to the floor.
The silence left by their departure almost has a weight. The teacher bends and collects the papers that have fallen. She rifles through them looking for the one, there’s almost always one that sparkles, that fans the little flame that has kept her in teaching for this long. She vows that no matter how above mediocre the paper is, she will not be swayed. The ribbon of road, the colours of places unknown are calling.
She sifts the papers, Lindsay Lohan, Sponge Bob, my super boyfriend, Barack Obama, Grandma all the things she expected. Ah, Ms Sylvester, there’s always one.
The person I most admire is Ms Sylvester, sure that sounds like a suck up to get an A, but Ms Sylvester is actually really cool.
Every day we come in and she tries her best to make us interested in Shakespeare and other old dudes that wrote stuff so long ago that no one cares anymore. But she does care, you can tell and she really wants us to care.
Our class are pretty bad, I mean we hardly ever listen and stuff, and it’s not her fault the school makes her teach us this stuff. But today she looked sad, so I looked at our class and we are shit, sorry, we are really bad. No one was doing their paper, we were all messy and Reece looked stupid with his hair, like some demented butterfly or something and I just thought I can’t believe she cares enough about this stuff to teach us.
And then she was talking to Reece and they were joking and she was talking to him like a person, not like he was stupid or a kid or anything, but like a person.
That’s when I thought Ms Sylvester is actually pretty awesome, everyday she comes in and talks about stuff she loves to a bunch of rioting butterflies, and she talks like she expects us to care, and that’s pretty cool.
That’s why Ms Sylvester is the person I admire. Go Bears!
Oh crap. She’s not going to be hitting that road on Friday. The teacher looks at the name at the top of the paper.
Oh crap. The teacher sits to plan next week’s lesson for her rioting butterflies.