The graduating students were called to the auditorium. It was a week before the graduation day and all the students, as well as the faculty, were in a frantic preparation for the event. Miss Ella was just about to begin the class, but she had to dismiss it already. She stayed in the classroom anyway after all the students were gone. It has been a grueling year for Miss Ella and her students, but it went so fast she didn’t notice that she has reached the final page of her lesson plan. She let out a sigh of relief. Another year had come and gone, she said to herself. She checked her phone. Somebody liked her photo on Instagram. It was weird she thought; she posted that picture about a month ago. A co-teacher texted her: “Class canceled? Let’s have lunch?” She thought about replying but did not do so. Miss Ella reached for her chalkboard eraser and cleaned the board.
She dropped the eraser in surprise.
“I mean Miss Ella,” said a young man standing outside the classroom.
“Mike!” said Miss Ella. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the auditorium?”
“Yeah. But I like to say something to you right now.”
Mike looked around to see if there was anyone nearby. There was a cat. He went inside the classroom. Miss Ella picked up the eraser and put it inside her bag.
“What is it?” she asked.
Mike took a paper from his pocket and gave it to her. “Just read this,” he said.
“What is this?” she asked again. But she knew what it was and what was written in it. She unfolded the slightly crumpled paper.
“We talked about this Mike” she looked at him and gave him a smile.
“I know but I can’t.”
“Then why Ella?” he accidentally raised his voice. “I’m sorry.”
Miss Ella put the letter inside her bag. There was a trashcan at the corner, but she can’t throw it there. Not inside the school premises.
“Because we can’t be,” she said, her voice uninflected.
“How about when I’m in college?”
She gave him another smile. “I need to go.”
She has been teaching for two years now. It was her first time to teach students just five years younger than her. She was both excited and anxious at first about it, but she always stayed professional. She took her phone and replied to her co-teacher.
“Please turn off the fans when you go.”
Miss Ella walked past Mike as if he was not even there. She saw a cat walking in the corridor. She pulled her bag up to her shoulder and picked up the cat. She caressed her. She never had a cat since graduating from college. She thought about ordering pasta, pesto maybe.