And Then I Met My Teacher
Welcome to Montreal
'Well, nice to meet you. I'm Mr. Way'', He smiled.
''I'm Frank'', I said as I stood up to shake his hand.
''Jeez, you're soaking wet! Do you need something do dry yourself?'' He said, staring at my wet pants.
''Oh, huh no, I'll be fine. Thank you though'', I answered. He seemed like the kind of young teacher that everyone liked. The type that genuinely cares about his students and their success. Maybe Visual Arts wouldn't be so bad after all. I looked checked my schedule to see if I had him in any of my other classes. G. Way. I happened to have him in 3 different art classes. I wondered what the G. was standing for. Greg, maybe? I smiled at my schedule. He was teaching three of my four art classes.
Other students came in a few minutes later. One of them sat next to me. He had dark brown hair and ebony eyes. I smiled at him.
''Hey! You're new here, right?'' He asked.
''Yes, it's my first day actually. I just moved here.''
''Cool. I'm James by the way', he answered.'
''Frank.'' I responded. He smiled at me and I smiled back. A few seconds later, everyone had taken a seat and Mr. Way started talking.
''Good morning everyone, I hope you all had a nice summer. I'm glad to see some familiar faces as well as some new faces", he said while looking at me. "Let's begin today by doing a short critique of an Andrea Solari painting. I would like you to take your coursepack and go to page 28, where you will find a printed version of the painting'', he said.
People started taking out their coursepacks and opening them to page 28. I looked around only to see that everyone had it. Not a single student was missing the book. Not one, except me. I looked down, praying that no one would notice that I didn't own any of the required material.
''Frank, what happened to your coursepack?'' Mr. Way asked unpleasantly.
''I don't have it.'' I mumbled.
''What was that? I didn't quite hear you'' He said.
Why was he being such a jerk? I had told just him I was new here. He really didn't have to do a whole scene over a damn coursepack. In front of everyone on top of that. God. So embarrassing. I really should have stayed at a home.
''I. Don't. Have. It.'' I repeated louder, enunciating every word very clearly.
''First of all, I'm going to ask you to remain polite. I will not be tolerating any form of arrogance in my class. Now can you please explain to me why you don't have your material?'' He asked, still using the same stern tone.
''Because, as I told you before class, I just moved here. Today's my first day", as answered as calmly as possible.
''And so?'' He asked, as if what I had just said wasn't clear enough.
''So, I had no way of knowing what material I would need for this class, or any other class for that matter.''
''I took the time to e-mail all my students, including you, on the portal. This was done over a week ago. The e-mail explained in details the material you would need for all my classes. Everyone seems to have gotten that e-mail. Everyone except you," he said harshly.
I heard some people in the back giggling and I honestly felt like crying. I started to feel like a fragile and powerless little boy again. I just wanted my daddy back. I wanted to take the first bus to Jersey and run back to Belleville. I wanted to be in high school with Sam, Kyle, Jenna and Mrs. Brock, enjoying my senior year. Not with James, Mr. Way and all these kids I didn't know. My hands began to tremble.
''I didn't even know we had a portal'', I said, trying to keep my voice from breaking. I wasn't even looking at him anymore. I wasn't looking at anyone actually. I was just staring at the ground, hoping he would leave me alone.
''I'm going to ask you to come see me after class. James, please share your book with Frank for today''
''Sure'', James said nicely.
The rest of the lesson went by quietly. I noticed that the students actually seemed to like him. Even James didn't seem to hate him.
''Do people actually like him?'' I asked, confused.
''Well, yeah. He's usually pretty chill. I don't know why he lost his shit on you like that. Everyone really likes him.''
''Huh, okay'' I said, surprised.
''What's your schedule?'' He asked. I pulled the piece of paper the lady had given me from my almost empty bag and placed it on the table we were sharing. He took a quick look at it before letting me know that we had the exact same schedule. I smiled faintly. At least I would have someone to sit with in class. He ripped a piece of paper from his notebook and wrote his phone number down before handing it to me.
''If you want to hang out sometime.'' He said smiling.
''Thanks! I'll text you so that you have my phone number too.'' I said, pulling out my phone. I was focused on the small screen when I felt a hand pulling on it.
''No cellphones in class'', Mr. Way said. He took my phone away and put it in his desk drawer. James looked at me apologetically. I smiled at him to let him know it was okay.
After three hours of hearing Mr. Way talking about Baroque art, the class finally ended. I just wanted to go home and cry myself to sleep, but I had to get my phone back.
''You'll be fine?'' James asked. He was really nice. He didn't have to look after me like that, but he still did and he seemed happy to do it. I nodded. He smiled and told me to text him if I needed anything. He gathered his stuff and left, leaving me alone with Mr. Way. I looked out the window. The grey clouds had disappeared and had been replaced by a beautiful sunny weather. Once everyone had left the room, I was expecting Mr. Way to come see me, or at least to say something, but he just continued working at his office.
''You wanted to talk to me?'' I asked politely. He looked up from his desk to make eye contact with me. He slowly stood up and took a few steps in my direction. He was standing directly in the sunlight that was now brightening up the room. His hazel eyes were reflecting the light beautifully. He started talking, but I wasn't listening. I had lost myself in the beauty of his delicate features. The man I had wanted to punch in the face about 30 minutes was gone. Now, all I could see was one of the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on. His fair complexion and dark hair were the perfect contrast to his warm hazel eyes. He had probably noticed I had stopped listening because he stopped talking.
''Frank? Are you alright?'' He asked calmly.
''Yes, your eyes are just", I paused, looking for the right word. "Distracting'', I said. I regretted that choice as soon as the word let my mouth. I probably looked like some sort of weirdo, crushing on my teacher. Awesome.
''My eyes?'' He asked confused.
''Yeah, they're just really beautiful.'' Oh for fuck's sake, shut up, Frank! I had just made it a hundred times worse. He started blushing, clearly embarrassed.
''Oh. Huh, thank you'', He said, uncomfortable. He smiled faintly and walked back to his desk. When he opened the drawer, I thought he was going to give me my phone back, but instead he handed me a brand new coursepack.
''I'm not supposed to hand these out for free, but I think I might have went a little hard on you today.'' He said. I took the coursepack and smiled.
''I noticed you were talking to James earlier'', he pointed out.
''Yeah, he seems nice.'' I answered, not too of where this conversation was going.
''I'm glad to see you're making friends'', He said, smiling. Less than an hour ago he had made me want to cry in front of the whole class and now he was giving me free coursepacks and was ''glad to see I'm making friends''? This guy was really confusing.
''You said you just moved here? Where are you from, originally?'' He asked. He was probably just talking to me because he felt guilty about the way he had treated me earlier.
''New Jersey.'' I answered. His expression changed.
''No way! Me too! Where exactly?'' He asked enthusiastically.
''Belleville'' I answered.
''No way! I moved here from Belleville three years ago. I never met anyone else who was from there.''
''Well, I am.'' I said, maybe a little too harshly. He didn't seem to be bothered by my tone since he just kept the conversation going.
''Why did you move here?'' He asked. I felt a lump forming in the back of my throat and my palms got sweaty.
''My dad got shot on our property last month and my mom was too scared to stay in New Jersey after that.'' I answered. His face became softer and I saw the pity in his eyes.
''I'm really sorry, Frank. I didn-''
''Sorry about what?" I snapped. "It's not like you're the one who shot him, right? God, I hate when people say that.'' I took a deep breath to calm myself down. He stayed silent, giving me a moment to compose myself.
''You? why did you move?'' I asked a few seconds later, once I had calmed down.
''My little brother has really serious asthma problems. The health care system is cheaper and better here. That's why we moved.''
''Is he doing better?'' I asked.
''He is still struggling, but we don't have to worry about medical bills as much now, at least.'' He smiled. I didn't want to be rude, but I was exhausted and I just wanted to go home. I didn't want to ask for my phone, but I kind of had to since he seemed to have completely forgotten that it was still in his possession.
''Mr. Way?'' I asked nervously. ''Could I please get my phone back?''
''Oh, sure. Sorry, I forgot.'' He said as he reached for it in his drawer.
''There you go.'' He told me as he gave it back. I thanked him and started walking towards the classroom door.
''Frank?'' He asked.
''If ever you need to talk, I just want you to know that you can come see me.'' He said. I smiled and nodded.
''Oh and also, welcome to Montreal.''
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