School

Ellel sat in her car parked outside the school a few dozen feet away from drawn-to windows, the faint sound of a classroom behind. She smoked a cigarette and stared out of the windshield.
—It’s not that we disagree with the mechanics of what happened. It’s the finding that a six year old could form that kind of intent.

The radio played quiet in the background, some traffic overhead. A teacher walked crooked down the path ahead holding the hand of a little girl who wears a paper flower on her chest. The girl was smiling, jumping between steps and facing the car park as the teacher kept on, concerned, looking droopy and broken. Ellel wound the window down in bolts, the car rigid, and threw her cigarette out. She leant over to pick up some papers, a folder, and twisted her mouth to point as close to the window as it could, blew smoke, and attempted to wave the the remainder out with her free hand.
—She knew what she was doing, she had been warned of the dangers of putting something around her neck, that it could cause death.
Ellel turned the volume all the way down until there was a click and the lights turned off, turned the ignition and the dull hum of the car’s electrics off. She passed the folders across her chest and looked dumb and wax like through the hard surface of the windshield that buried her image.

—Hi Ellel.
Hi.
Ellel’s head raised and smiled to the room, at the woman at the other end of the teacher’s lounge who stirred a spoon in a cup.
—Have you only just got in?
—Yeah, I slept late, I’ve really not been the best recently. Sorry I didn’t call anybody.
—Yeah… okay. Well I think someone’s in your class now anyway so you’re good till the break if you want to sit down or get a drink or something… prepare.
—Yeah, okay. Thanks.
Paper spilled out to the side, Ellel putting her things down on a chair that is pulled out from the large plastic topped table that sits in the centre of the room. A stiff blue upholstered sofa by the window, opposite the door, a wide view of the fate and the cars outside. Ellel crossed the room as the other teacher walked towards the door, rattling her cup to lean over and put the spoon in a glass in the centre of the table.
—I’ll see you in a later on.
—Yeah, see you.
Ellel switched the kettle on and leant with both hands on the laminate surface. Outside still burning but quiet for the day after the crowds had been forced to move on, all intentions correct, maybe. Ellel had felt some solidarity, but it was a school. The kids would only see everything in the town on video, maybe the radio, places, they didn’t need it at school. The dirt was turned up around the front gates where the crowds had settled in. The playing field was wide and open and yellow, edged by a line of trees separating the school grounds from the adjoining fields that spread out to the beginnings of the city. The kettle clicked and Ellel sat with her possessions, placing paper from her bag on the table. Her phone, her hand against her ear, the other against her chest, her head down.
—Hi, yeah. I’m just calling to check my reservation and times and everything for- I have a ticket already. Ellel said. —Yeah, sure. Just let me find it. More paper spread across the table, the contents of her bag rolling away from her, one hand palmed the items. —Just give me one second. Ellel flipped open her wallet with one hand and picked and bent through it until she removed her a card. —Yeah, I’ve got it. It’s… six, one, zero- wait, which number is it? Okay, yeah. That’s three, one, seven, three, three, five. Four, three, two… Yeah… And that’s the sleeper for that?… Ok, that’s great. Thank you.
Ellel placed her phone down, blinking off, lighting up again. Bent or arced her neck back, her hair falling down the back of the chair, her eyes strained or blinking, the grey panelling of the ceiling beige and pricked with black dots or smudges and the colour of her eyes it poured into.

—Hey. Sorry for pulling you out of class.
—They’re fine. What do you need?
—Do you know if Mark’s still around? I’ve got to leave, quite urgently, and I was wondering if you could see if he could just stick around today?
—Why can’t you ask him yourself?
—I’ve got to leave, I really have to, and you’re the only one that’s seen me here so I was wondering if you could help me out. I know it’s a weird favour since I’m here now but I figured he’s here now too and if he doesn’t know I’ve arrived he’s not really expecting any different.
—Well then why do I need to ask him?
—Well, I don’t know. Maybe you don’t need to ask him. Please could you just talk to someone for me? Or something, whatever you think is best. I really have to leave.
—Are you sure everything is okay?
—Yeah, it’s fine, I just have to leave. Ellel placed a piece of paper into her mouth and pulled the shoulder strap of her bag higher up onto her shoulder, pulled the paper out of gummed lips.
—Okay. Okay, that’s alight.
—Thank you, thank you.
—Are you sure you’re okay? You’re not even here, why do you need to leave so urgently?
—I know, it’s just something’s come up and I have to leave. I’m fine, really.
—Okay, alright. Well have a good day. I’ll see you when you get back.
—Thank you Jo.
—I’m going to go in now.
—Okay, yeah. Thank you.
She looked into Ellel’s eyes a little longer as she slowly opened the door then turned to the room, closing it to her back. Ground swell of small voices.

Ellel walked at speed through the school, through the car park, her bag against her chest, bringing it into her stomach, supporting its weight.

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