“I feel bad,” I said, putting my books down on the teacher’s desk in the ninth grade classroom. “I promised some seventh graders I’d unlock their classroom door but then they disappeared. Poor things are probably waiting in a hall somewhere.”
None of my seventeen students said anything. I looked up at the unusually quiet class. Everyone seemed suspiciously well-behaved.
“Well,” I said, coughing slightly to clear the tickle in my throat, “We should get started. *Honza, will you close the door please?”
(*All students names have been changed, partly for privacy and partly because it’s simpler for me to pick the names that are easier to spell).
I coughed again, a little more purposefully this time.
He just looked at me.
When I made a move to close the door myself and he jumped from his seat.
“No, you don’t want to do that,” he said. I stood back and smiled.
“Why?” I asked. “What’s going on?”
Still no answers but a chorus of nervous giggles spread through the room like virus. Oh no.
“What did you do?” I asked, smiling cautiously. That’s when I noticed it.