The Lesson“But it’s your turn.” said Mrs. Hopgood, “So no more bleating, please.”
“I’m not bleating,” replied an exasperated Mr. Williams. “It’s just that I’m a geography teacher. I’m just not cut out for this sort of thing.”
“Too bad; it’s your turn. I did it last year despite being a simple French teacher.”
“Well there you go,” said Mr. Williams, his eyes lighting up somewhat.
“Happen the French know all about these things.”
“The world over knows about it too. That should suit a geography teacher quite well, wouldn’t you say?”
Mr. William’s demeanour dimmed at the sharpness of her argument.
“Now off you go; they’re waiting,” said Mrs. Hopgood.
Mr. Williams gave Mrs. Hopgood his best glare. She beheld him, tight lipped over the rim of her savage-looking spectacles. Even at glaring he was no match for her. So he turned and headed off to Class One B, as one condemned.
He could hear the class noise halfway down the corridor. There seemed to be a charged atmosphere as he opened the door, for suddenly, the room was snapped into silence. Thirty-two pairs of eyes beheld him as if he was a bomber caught in enemy searchlights. Thirty-two pairs of lips quivered, holding back a surge of giggles like fractured dams.
“Please sit down,” said Mr. Williams.
The screeching of chair legs filled the small room in unison. The hush returned. This was it.
“Well,” said Mr. Williams.
“Right,” he added for good measure. “We’re here to look into,” he searched for a suitable euphemism, “To look into how we got here.”
“We already know how we got here Sir,” said a tall, lanky boy, his chin and forehead displaying the latest fashion in acne.
“You do?” said Mr. Williams, hopelessly revealing something akin to relief.
“Yeah, we got here on the school, bus Sir,” the boy said, which instantly detonated the powder keg of pent-up giggles, and the class exploded into laughter.
“Quiet, quiet,” insisted Mr. Williams, in a voice one notch down from a shout.
The laughter and giggles were re-buried whence they came.
“I will not tolerate such behaviour in my class,” he said. “Now let’s concentrate our minds on our origins. Now, does anyone know where I came from?”
“Wales, Sir?” asked a fresh-faced girl who was sitting next to Spotty.
A polite ripple of tribal amusement went around the room like a Mexican wave.
Mr. William’s tried again
“I meant before I was a teacher, long before. What was I then?”
“A student?” chirped up a voice from the back.
“A Pratt,” came another suggestion from a huge lad whom no one ever messed with.
“Look,” said Mr. Williams, his exasperation energising him for the task ahead.
“Where do you think babies come from?”
“Making ‘Whoopie’ my Mam says,” piped up a lively girl on the front row. She fixed Mr. Williams with a knowing smile. “What’s ‘Whoopie, Sir?”
“Yeah, what’s ‘Whoopie’ Mr. Williams?” said Spotty, driving home the spike of embarrassment yet further. More muted giggles leeched out.
“It’s slang for the means of procreation,” said Mr. Williams.
“Not to be confused with procrastination,” put in the class bookworm.
“Indeed no; that’s what a woman calls having a headache,” said the other swot seated next to him.
“You got any kids?” asked the lively girl
“No,” said Mr. Williams. “I’m not married.”
“But you’ve had your leg over, haven’t you Sir” asked Spotty.
Mr. Williams’ face displayed a look somewhere between shame and fury. Spotty picked up on it.
“Not even with a sheep up in the valley, Sir?”
“You’re not a Homo Sapien, are you Sir?” asked Spotty.
“You mean Homosexual,” said Mr. Williams.
“Homo what, Sir?” asked the girl.
“Sexual,” said Mr. Williams.
“I can’t believe it, shrieked Spotty. “Sir just said the ‘S’ word.”
The fresh-faced girl got up and walked seductively towards the worried visage of Mr. Williams. She fixed him with her young eyes as he allowed all his authority to fall like sand through his fingers
“You do know all about sex, don’t you?” she said, placing a naughty finger on to her pouting bottom lip.
She looked back at the class and winked at them all, unlocking more laughter. In one slinking motion she flipped the teacher’s tie out of his buttoned-up jacket and used it to pull him closer to her.
“Come on Sir,” she said, her perfume dimming his senses, “Tell us all about sex. Show us all you know Big Boy.”
By now the class was going wild, a chant erupted, one single word.
“Sex, sex, sex,..” on and on it went.
Mr. Williams grabbed his tie back and fled the room just as the school bell signalled another period.
Mr. Williams shot bolt upright out of his staff room chair at the sound of the bell and beheld Mrs. Hopgood looking at him recovering from his terrible day dream.
“You look like you’ve see a ghost,” she said.
“Me?” he squeaked. “No, I was just thinking about the next lesson.
“Ah, that,” she said, “Yes, I understand it’s your turn this year.”
“Don’t suppose you’d like to take class One B for me would you?”
“Not a chance,” she said.
“Oh, go on,” he implored.
“But it’s your turn.” said Mrs. Hopgood, “So no more bleating, please.”

The Lesson a Short Story by Richard Coppin

Click here to read more of Richard Coppin’s short stories.