Noble X — Episode 13: Suits & Supplies
THINGS BEGIN IN MUCH THE SAME WAY as the day that preceded. At the ringing of the bell, both teachers retrieve their students for the morning testing session. Most of the other teachers don’t notice the suit, wrapped up in their morning tasks. But the kids definitely do, staring at John as if they don’t quite recognize him.
Both teachers return with their students in tow. Seats are taken. Scripts are opened.
John begins reading the script word for word, thinking to himself, “Nobody said anything about inflection,” as he starts to recite the directions as if he were performing a Shakespearean sonnet. First session gets completed without incident, but John is winding up.
As the second testing session commences, he reads with enthusiasm bordering on madness, yet somehow sticks to the script and makes it through. With testing done for the day, John lets loose on his class projects from yesterday, letting all of his manic energy spill over, directing his class Captains with wild philosophical tangents in between. John’s volume and rate of speech continue to rapidly increase until he is snapped back to reality by a co-worker. A new friend of his. Alice. She looks horrified.
Alice works downstairs in one of the pre-school classrooms. She got hired at the beginning of the school year, same as John, and they chat at school. They just started hanging out outside of work. He invites her to concerts including the Noble Experiment this Thursday.
John reads the deep concern on her face and follows her eyes to his students then the opposite end of the room. Ms. West and Amy, her classroom aide, are both staring. Returning his gaze to his students, he now notices how uncomfortable he has made them. One of the boys, a fifth grade student named David asks, “Are you ok, Mr. Noble?” David looks the most freaked out of all.
Alice quietly advises, “Amy came to get me because she is concerned about how you’re acting.” She lowers her voice even further, “John... I really think you should go home and rest. You shouldn’t be here. Not like this.”
John feels exposed for the first time. He reels in hard, composing himself, whispering back to Alice pleadingly, “Let me wrap this up and smooth things over. Please. Then I can return my testing materials to the office, maybe head home early and get some rest.”
She nods, sighs, and with a great deal of effort, swallows her words and leaves. With an equally great deal of effort, John tells his Captains as gently as possible, “Alright boys and girls, that’s all the time we have to work on our special projects today. You all did a wonderful job. It’s time you all get back to class.” He pauses, locking eyes with David.
“Have no fear, David. I’m okay. I just need to get some rest. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sadly, he would not.
With his students gone, John tries to save face, approaching Sally. Her classroom aide Amy has disappeared and they are alone.
“Sally, I’m really really sorry. I know that—” but she cuts him off immediately. “Just stop, John. Just stop it. I don’t wanna hear it. I can’t handle this.” Still, John persists, needing to explain himself, tears of sadness mixed with helplessness welling up, “I broke up with my girlfriend and I haven’t been sleeping—” but again she cuts him off, standing abruptly, boring into him with her angry eyes and nearly snarling, “I’m sure you have a lot going on, but so do I,” as she storms out of the room.
For a moment, John is numb. Then fear washes over him in a great wave. Filling with panic, he collects the testing materials and his things. Flashes of young David’s face keep coming to him and John fights back the tears piling up behind his eyes.
For what remains of the afternoon, Sally avoids John completely and he does his best to fly under the radar. With an hour left before dismissal, he summons all of his courage to return his box of testing materials to the main office. Creeping down the stairs and into the office, he sees Ms. Carlin busy at her computer while juggling the phones. And Principal Hall is nowhere to be seen. John drops his box on the table, signs his materials back in, and casually makes for the exit lugging his extra bag of party supplies.
At last, with the thunk of his car door closing, he releases a great sigh of relief. Today, he had risked quite a lot. Principal Hall would surely hear about it. But now safely in his car, the fear starts to dissipate and his concerns about work begin to fade in the distance as he drives away from school. He’s not sure when he’ll be back. John has more pressing things to tend to.
Stay tuned for Episode 14.
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