Oral Report

24 May

Desk 13, position 2, barked the old woman. Name and class.
Rosetti, mum. Fifth form.
The boy noticed the teacher’s flesh under her arms, hanging down like wrinkled handbags. They reminded him of the sickening, brown scrotums he saw dangling between emaciated, hairy legs the summer he wandered too far out on the sands of the Black Sea and ended up in the nudist section.
Yes, mum. Fifth form, mum.
Come, the woman said.
The boy stood away from the desk and pulled down on the tail of his black school jacket. He walked up to the front where the woman stood holding a wood ruler.
He faced the class. From behind him, the woman took hold of his earlobe and pulled down hard.
You’ve a 4 for the trimester. You understand.
Yes, mum.
The pain was excruciating. It bled into his ear canal and made its way like molasses into his stomach. The woman squeezed the tiny flesh button as she pulled down. His ear was completely violet and burning from the pain.
A 4.
Yes, mum.
Nobody has ever made a 4 in my class in my entire career. You understand.
Yes, mum.
The boy began to weep slowly.
Will I tell your father.
Yes, mum.
What’s your name again.
Rosetti, mum.
She kept at his ear. He bent slightly sideways in order to ameliorate the pain but not enough to have her notice.
What class.
Fifth, mum.
Fifth form, Rosetti, and you don’t know your times tables. And now I will tell your father. You’re a disgrace.
Yes, mum.
She smacked the boy with the edge of the ruler on the bone of his right shoulder while still pulling hard at the ear. The entire class was silent.
What was that?
Yes, mum.
Yes, what.
Yes, mum. I’m a disgrace.
That’s right, Rosetti. Not only are you a disgrace to yourself and your father, you’re a disgrace to the Party.
Yes, mum.
What shall I write in your grade book, Rosetti.
What shall I write in your grade book.
A 4, mum.
That’s right. You will have a 4 for the trimester.
Yes, mum.
The woman released the ear.
Tomorrow you stand here and recite the times tables. All of them.
Yes, mum.
Back to your desk, she howled. March!
And then she turned toward the blackboard and began writing. The boy slid into his desk next to his mate. They both stared at the woman’s fleshy, wrinkled bags of fat swinging under her biceps.
Lazy pigs, she said outloud and broke the chalk in half drawing a fraction bar under which the number 4 became the denominator.


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