The sound of the voice rang out through the classroom and Dominic winched at the sound. He sat close to the window and spent most of his school day gazing out through the blinds at the lush green grass of the field beyond the confines of the classroom. Although, today the grass was looking a dull brown in colour and a group of adults were congregating around a large area where the lavish green of the field met the dead area of grass. He lowered his head close to his wooden desk and tried to hide the smirk sneaking its way across his face. “Dominic Atwell!” the voice sounded crosser than ever as it ran over the heads of the other pupils in the class. “I am talking to you!”
“No you’re not...” Dominic whispered under his breath, “your shouting”. He looked at the desk by his and smirked as the boy next to him stifled a laugh as the teacher surged through the rows of tables to his position at the back of the class.
“You’re in for it now Dom” whispered the boy under his breath, then cast his gaze away from the red-faced teacher barring down on him.
“What did you say?” the voice raged, filling the air around him and Dominic looked up from his desk and for the first time gazed into the face of his teacher. She stood over him, staring down from her elevated position and rested her hands on the front of his desk. Dominic stared into her bloodshot eyes as they filled with anger, then at her flaring nostrils as they thrust in and out as she blew air through her nose. The vein on her temple pumped viciously as her blood pressure rose and Dominic watched, convinced that it was about to burst at any moment.
He smiled innocently at her, “nothing Miss” he said in his softest, sweetest voice.
“Don’t you dare lie to me Dominic Atwell!” she stormed, “I know you said something...just like I know you had something to do with that” she pointed out of the window toward the patch of dead grass in the centre of the field.
“Me?” Dominic asked astonished, following her finger and staring out of the window as though he had noticed the field outside the window for the first time.
“Don’t you give me that!” she snapped.
“You can’t think I had anything to do with that...” Dominic said placing his hands upon his chest and mocking innocence.
“I don’t think Mr. Atwell, I know” she lent close to Dominic and he stared at her as she breathed with anger before him. She was in her mid-forties and quite attractive for her age. Her face was lined around her eyes and there were traces of bags beneath her eyes. Her neat brown hair was tied tightly in a bun and sat on the perch of her head, while a pair of small rimmed spectacles sat on the end of her nose. Her face was so close to Dominic’s that he could almost count the freckles which covered her face and Dominic smiled to himself as they reminded him of a bowl of Rice Krispies battling through layers of milk, “...and so does Mr. Reed” Dominic blinked as he realised that she had still been talking as he was staring at her. “His office now!” she snapped and pointed toward the front of the class where the door stood closed barring the corridor from the classroom.
“Fine” he grunted and pushed his chair back, forcing it close to the wall. “I know the way” he murmured as he picked his way through the rows of tables, with dozens of accusing eyes staring and watching his slow progress through the classroom. Dominic reached the door and paused with his hand on the handle and looked back toward his classmates, his smile fading to regret as he saw the sad faces of the pupils at their desks, then his eyes wandered over to the accusing glare of his teacher, who still stood by his desk, arms folded over her chest and a look of...disappointment more than anger crossing her face. He sighed and pushed open the door and slid into the empty, lonely corridor and gazed along its cold walls.
“Sorry about that children” he could hear the voice from inside apologise, “now that little disruption has left...we shall continue where we left off...Julie...please”
Dominic sighed and lent for a moment with his back pressed firmly against the wall of the corridor and listened as the girl’s voice continued reading from a passage of the book that they had been reading before the incident.
“Again Dominic?” the male voice was soft in tone and Dominic looked around from his silent vigil and looked in the direction of the school caretaker.
“Yes” he nodded sadly and pushed his back from the wall.
“When will it stop son?” called the caretaker as Dominic passed him and sulked away down the hall, “you act like a monkey lad...and they’ll treat you like one!”
Dominic paid him no attention, but nevertheless his words rang true in his mind, ’if you act like a monkey...they’ll treat you like a monkey” and kept turning over and over as he walked slowly along the corridor toward the room at the other end of the school. Part of his mind couldn’t understand why he kept doing bad things, while another revelled in the attention that he got, good or bad. The walls of the school watched him as he walked and gazed down with their own silent accusation. For every poster and every painting decorating the wall a pair of baleful eyes stared down from their mounted position. The simple plain wooden door of the headmaster’s office loomed at the end of the corridor and beckoned him forward...ever nearer, ever closer. The silence of the corridor was beaten back by the sound of his own breathing and the relentless thump...thump...thump as his heart beat within his chest. He paused outside the door and glanced up at the wooden obstacle, his hand hovering over the wood and he strained to listen to the voices which crept beneath the door. He could hear muffled words being spoken, but couldn’t make out the meaning or who was speaking and slowly his hand raised and curled as he attempted to knock. He glanced through the window by the office and caught the sad glance from the school receptionist as she quickly reverted her gaze back to a large pile of papers which sat laying on her desk. He sighed and rested his head against the door and against his own will brought his hand down against the wood, his knock echoing through the corridor three times and matching his own heartbeat.
“Come...” the voice from the other side of the door was clear and sighing heavily, he pushed at the handle and sunk as he entered the room. The office was large, and held two long wooden desks, the first holding a computer system with a monitor resting on the surface of the table. A steaming cup sat close to the keyboard and Dominic was drawn to the wisp of vapour as it rose from the steaming brown liquid within the ceramic cup. The other table was strewn with sheaves of paper, masked with figures and diagrams and official documents as they battled for attention amongst the debris of pens and pencils. Small potted plants scattered the office, leaning on window sills, tables and cabinets while larger pots sat on the floor decorating the office. Two gentlemen sat in large leather swivel chairs, one Dominic recognised, the other was a stranger to him. His headmaster wore a stern expression to match his stern brown suit and plain white shirt. His black hair was neat and tidy and copied the flow of his trimmed moustache and as Dominic entered the room, he stroked his moustache as though smoothing down an imaginary hair. “Dominic...” he said and looked toward the other man opposite him.
The other man was considerably older and in contrast to the prim and smart suit that the headmaster wore, his clothing was untidy, his blue shirt bore an open top button and his black tie was slightly bent over a rounding stomach. His grey suit looked too small for his ample frame as both the legs and the arms of the suit rode up his body exposing his shirt and white socks. His hair grew at intermittent patches on the side of his head and the sun shone off the balding area at the top of his head. The older man never smiled as Dominic walked in, simply beckoned him forward, then pointed to a low-level fabric sofa which sat partially hidden behind the door. Dominic felt his heart sink further as he turned as faced the frowning faces of both his mother and father as they sat huddled together on the reclining furniture.
“Mr. and Mrs. Atwell...” started the older man as he looked toward the family as Dominic took his place between his parents, “Dominic”
“Can we ask what this is about?” asked Dominic’s father, glancing down at his son and frowned angrily at the boy.
“Certainly” stated the older man, “as you know Dominic has been...how shall I put it...” he searched for the word for a moment then smiled at Dominic and said, “a challenge” he turned in his chair and spoke to the headmaster, “Mr. Reed...if you could be so kind”
The headmaster nodded and rose from his seat and walked over the room to a large metal cabinet and open the top drawer, pulling a large file from the confines of the interior. “Who are you?” demanded Mr. Atwell as the headmaster handed over the file to the older man.
“Oh” said the man in mock surprise, “I beg your pardon...didn’t I introduce myself” he smiled as Mr. Atwell shook his head, “my name is Mr. Andrews...and I am the coordinator for the local schools in the area. You might say I’m the governor” his teeth flashed as he opened the file resting in his hands and he allowed his eyes to drift over the words. “You see Mr... Mrs. Atwell, Dominic here is my problem”
“That’s a bit harsh” said Mrs. Atwell, placing an arm around her son defensively.
“Hardly...” purred Mr. Andrews, “You see, I’ve worked across the area and in every school, I’ve been in there’s been one word which has plagued me...one word which has disrupted the entire phase of that school...” he looked straight at the cowering figure between the two adults, “Dominic” he whispered and leant forward close to the boy.
“How dare you!” snapped Mr. Atwell.
“How dare I!” snapped Mr. Andrews, “How dare I!” he laughed and threw the heavy file onto the top of the table, shaking the contents under the sudden pressure of the excessive weight. “Every school Mr. Atwell...every school” he turned to the window and gazed out speaking to the trees which lined the pavement outside the window. “There have been cases involving your child...from truancy, to vandalism”
“Yes...Mr. Atwell, as you well know” he turned back and smiled, “how many times has your check book been forced to pay for damages caused by your son?” he asked, “how many broken tables...chairs...windows” his voice trailed off as he gazed back out of the window, “then there’s the graffiti...”
“That hasn’t been proved” interrupted Mrs. Atwell.
“He’s signed his work!” snapped Mr. Andrews laughing and turning back to them. “Then there is the constant cheek in the classroom. The disrespect for the teachers...the bullying” he shook his head and looked at Dominic, “I am sorry Mr... Mrs. Atwell, but your child is a disruptive influence in the classroom”
“I refute that” stormed Mr. Atwell, “My son is special” he looked at his son and smiled slightly as he spoke, but even through the false smile flashed toward Dominic, the boy could see a sadness hidden within his gaze. “He needs special attention, that’s all. It’s not him that’s failing sir, but your education system”
Mr. Andrews sighed and removed his glassed from his nose and rubbed the bridge of his nose, pinching the skin between his fingers and spoke slowly, “Please, Mr. Atwell. You have to understand that your son has been given every opportunity and time and time again he has shown himself to be a destabilizing influence over the rest of the schoolroom”
“In your opinion” countered Mr. Atwell.
“Very well” said Mr. Andrews and walked slowly to the old wooden desk before the window and bending he pulled open the bottom drawer and removed a large bulging folder. He turned to Mr. Atwell and dropped the heavy file on the desk before him. He perched himself on the edge of the table and open the paper binding of the folder and stared at the top few pages, flicking over the words which stared out of the paper. “Over the last few years Mr. Atwell” started Mr. Andrews slowly, “your child has attended every school in the local area...and all with the same results” he scanned the pages of the folder sadly as he spoke, “Dominic is a disruptive child who has no intention of learning” he quoted, then turned to another page, “Dominic has a low attention span and will never amount to much unless he changes his attitude toward learning...” another page, “Dominic has spent more time this term in detention than in lessons…this boy has no intention in following the curriculum and has more interest in disturbing his fellow pupils” he looked at Mr. Atwell, “the list goes on and on sir”
“I don’t believe half the things that’s being said about my son” interrupted Mrs. Atwell, “he’s a good boy...really” the lie spoken stood out strongly and the desperation in Mrs. Atwell’s words belied her own conviction.
Again Mr. Andrews sighed and read from the folder, picking pages at random, “Dominic was fighting...” he turned another page, “running through the girls changing room naked...salt in the teachers coffee...bringing foreign objects into school...swearing...placing cling-film over the toilets...sugar in the caretakers fuel tank...truancy...locking a girl in the boys toilets...water bombing the governors...rude snowmen...worms in a teachers desk...altering test papers...turning up the temperature in an egg incubator...releasing frogs into a nursery...pins on seats...the list goes on and on” sighed Mr. Andrews as he flicked from page to page, “shall I continue?” he asked shaking his head, pushing his glasses down his nose as he looked at Dominic’s parents. The headmaster of the school turned and looked out of the window, unable to meet their glare and watched as various people collected pieces of damaged grass from the field beyond the office. “When I first became a teacher many years ago Mr. Atwell, I had a dream...no a vision, that every child had a bright future. Every child would learn under my tutelage and grow to become great men and brilliant women” he looked straight at Dominic, “but in all my years of teaching I have never met any child who has refused constant education and has remained persistent with this unruly behaviour" Mr. Andrews looked down sadly at his shoes as he spoke his final words, “I am sorry to say this and I have never had the misfortune to admit that in all my years of schooling...your child is...in my opinion...unteachable”