The Result of an "All Nighter" and a box of Red Bull

Story written by just call me J on Thursday 8, March 2007

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this is a rough draft so be gentle! It will take a little time to read, but if you make it all the way through, I guess that means you didn

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The radio crackles to life. The sound pulls me out my slumber. I lay staring at the ceiling for a moment. My wife sighs gently and stirs for a moment before settling back in to her slumber. I kiss her on the cheek ever so gently but she doesn't wake. I don't expect her to. She is, by far, the deepest sleeper I've ever known. Maybe it's her good night's rest that makes her so cheery in the morning. I am in no way a morning person but somehow I find the strength to rise at five every morning. I guess it's evidence that I'm getting old. My trip to the bathroom follows the usual routine. After I relieve my bladder I turn on the shower and take few minutes to look at myself in the mirror, taking a little time to look at the lines that are beginning to form around my eyes and the silver crown of hair that is beginning to creep around my ears. I touch it as if my fingers will rub the gray away. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people that fears aging. I don't like it but I don't fear it. Why should I? We all go through it. There's no stopping it. I've learned that it is pointless to fear what you can't control. My youth lives within the innocence of my daughter now. When I'm with her, I can be as old or as young as I want to be. Before I know it, my image in the mirror is blurred away by the mist of the hot shower. Money's tight right now for us so my showers only last five... ten minutes at the most then I brush my teeth and floss. I grab my light blue button up shirt from the hanger and put it on, then buckle the belt on my pants. After running a comb through my hair, I take another glance at myself in the mirror, making minor adjustments to any stray hairs before exiting the bedroom and walking down the hallway. In the hallway, I notice a crude drawing in red crayon of a dog with a stick in his mouth. I glance at it with mixed emotions. The door in the corner of the house is open ever so slightly and a dim light peeks through the opening. I look in for a moment but I'm careful not to touch the door. The hinges squeak terribly and I keep telling myself I'll fix it one of these days. On the bed, curled in a tiny ball under a flower blanket lies the reason I live. It's the little girl that shares my blood, Kera. Towering over her is her loyal bodyguard and unofficial father, Gomez. Our pet Great Dane. Since Kera was born, Gomez has made it his life duty to protect her. Gomez loved her since the day she opened her eyes and gazed at him with fear and wonder. You wouldn't think a dog could be much help to new parents but you would be surprised. I look at her now, so angelic. It always reminds me her first night with us. There are no words to describe how it feels to gaze into the sleeping face of the miracle you've created with the one you love. Gomez's head perks up. His right ear flops at this motion and his left juts straight up. He wags his tail softly as he jumps off Kera's bed and stretches his long limbs. Gomez is an old and wise dog now and his joints pop and crack as he walks. I pet him on his large head as we head in to the kitchen. I grab the bag of coffee grounds from the cabinet and Gomez sits, patiently waiting for his morning breakfast of dry dog food and diced tomatos. After I pour two cups of coffee, I cut up a raw tomato and mix it into a large bowl of dog food. He slops it up into his mouth, smacking with every bite. I give Gomez a quick rub on his massive head. He gives me a lick on my palm and retreats back in to Kera's room. I walk in to the cold morning air. I grab the rest of my things and my car keys and walk in to the cold, dark early morning air and get in my car. At 7:15 it's still dark in the early morning of December. It's bitter cold this time of year and as I step out of my car I can already feel the chill numbing my nose and ears. My feet crunch the frosted grass. I arrive at my usual time in my usual parking spot carrying my usual two steaming cups of coffee with my lesson plan under my arm. It's the same routine I perform five days out of every week. Nothing has changed much for my routine since I started teaching here. Sometimes I laugh at how how predictable my life has become. It's the very life I spent the majority of twenties promising myself I would never live. I walked up the sidewalk briskly, trying to reach the main entrance doors to escape the cold. The large sign reads North Pulaski High School "Home of the Falcons" in big maroon letters. This is the school in which I teach. It's very poor in comparison to other schools but what it lacks in funds it more than makes up for it with its spirit. My specialty, Senior English Literature. I've been teaching here for five years now and even though I'm no longer considered a new teacher, I'm still very new compared to the other teachers in the school. Some of which are the very same ones that taught me. I walk through the front doors. The thermostat in the school always seems to be set at a temperature between eighty to eighty five degrees and my body rejoices as I open the doors and the warm sensation envelopes me, but by the end of the day I'll have sweat marks running down my back and under my arms. I walk down the usual hallway and hear the faint hum of a song being sung to the beat of rattling plastic bottles and squeaking wheels of trash bins. There is Ms. Bobby, the school janitor, hard at work. She's the first person in the school every morning and last person out every night and it's always been that way for thirty-five years. She was busy mopping the floors when she heard my footsteps coming down the hallway. "Good morn'n Honey", She said without looking up. She didn't have to, she knew it was me. Since I started I've always been the first teacher to arrive in the morning "Good Morning Ms. Bobby. I brought you something." I said as I hand her a cup of coffee. Like every morning, she looks up with surprise, a big smile on her face and puts her mop aside, "Awww... Baby, you didn't have to do that.", She takes the cup with both hands and blows on it, "Thank you sweety." "You're welcome." We stop and talk casually for a few minutes like we do every morning. "So how's the little one?" she asks "Oh she's still a little mad at me right now. Last night I caught her drawing on the walls with her crayons." "Again?" Ms. Bobby says with amused surprise "Yeah. I was so impressed the first time she did it, I just didn't have the heart to spank her, the drawings were so good for a little girl her age.. But this time I was mad." She set down her cup of coffee. "mmm... Well kids will be kids." She said with a smile as she picked up her mop again. "Have a good day Ms. Bobby." I say as I continue down the hallway. "You too hun. I'll see you this afternoon." Ms. Bobby and I have always had a warm friendship. Even as a young, shy sophomore she would greet me with a smile and tell me how cute I was. Sure, it didn't make me look or feel very manly but I always appreciated her compliment. Though I would play it off like I didn't. She's one of those rare people who can make total strangers feel like long lost friends. I can say without question that I'll miss her when she retires at the end of the year. I take my keys out of my pocket and open the door to my classroom. I stand alone, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. Dim rays of light from the early morning hallway enters the room through the open door, sticking to the desks and laminated posters on the wall. I take a little time to look around the room and take pride in the classroom I've created and the memory I have here. I remember five years ago. I'd accepted my teaching job here at North Pulaski. It had been a wonderful week for my wife and I. She had just received her first interior design job and was being paid handsomely for it and I had just gotten my teaching job. I drove to the school to look in on my new classroom and she decided to join me. It was a month before school started but Ms. Bobby was hard at work washing windows in the media center. I used my newly issued keys to open the door to my room, Room 3B. We walked into the room and turned on the light. There was definitely work to be done. The room had once been used for storage but even with renovations that were done over the summer, it still seemed a little gray and miserable. "I guess we have our work cut out for us." My wife said "Actually, I was thinking that I'd like to decorate the room on my own." I replied, She gave a little chuckle after I refused her offer. My wife always tells me that I have a terrible sense of interior design. She loves to design, it's the only thing she seems to take very seriously and I must say she has a gift for it. It runs in her family. "You don't think I can do it?" I said, sounding slightly annoyed "No, it's not that. It's just that... well, your side of the family isn't really known for their artistic vision.", she smiled I crossed my arms, "Is that so?" She nodded her head, and smiled as she bit her bottom lip trying not to laugh at how personally I was taking her honesty. "I'll bet that I can decorate a room so incredible that even you will be amazed." "Fine." She said, "It's a bet." I worked tirelessly to make the room look perfect, I read books and studied the science that is fashion. I made sure every laminated poster I hung was "Feng Shui". I watched Extreme Makeover religiously for weeks straight, taking notes. Three weeks later I finally finished. The moment I finished, I called her and told her to come and see what I had done. After I'd hung up the phone, I laid my sense of smug and confidence aside as I scanned the entire room looking for anything she might critique. I wanted to make sure she had nothing to criticize. Thirty minutes later I heard footsteps echoing through the hallway. I threw my façade of self confidence back on and walked outside my door. "Come on in and prepare to be amazed." "We'll see..." she said as she walked past me She entered the room and looked around, studying the walls and corners, saying nothing. She stood looking away from me with her hands on her hips and I took a little time to admire her beautiful shape while I leaned in the doorway. "So... What do ya think?" I said After a brief pause she turned toward me, put her arms around my waist and laid her head on my shoulder, "I love it!" "That's good news." I replied in a very "told you so" tone "I have some more good news." She lifted her head from my shoulder and looked at me with her beautiful eyes. She smiled and I noticed that her face seemed to glow and her eyes twinkled with an endless joy. I looked at her with confusion as I waited for an answer, then it suddenly hit me like a bullet. I whispered in a state of shock and happiness, "I'm gonna be a father.." She nodded I put my hands on the top of my head, my eyes wide, "I'm gonna be a father!" I paused for a moment..."When did this happen?" She tilted her head and furrowed her brow with a puzzled smile "No... wait... I mean..." it was obvious I wasn't thinking clearly, "You're gonna be a mom?" "Yes and you're gonna be a father. We're having a baby!" "We're a family!" I was so excited that time seemed to pass like a blur. I ran out of the room and down the hallway. "Where are you going?" I thought I heard her shout as I ran out the door. I ran past Ms. Bobby, she was wiping the library windows, "Ms. Bobby, I'm gonna be a Dad!" "Congratulations baby! You're gonna be a wonderful father!" she answered as I ran out the front doors. It wasn't until I got half way to my car that I realized I had no idea where I was running to. I ran back inside panting but still beaming ear to ear. "Didn't you forget something?" Ms Bobby teased. I laughed at myself as I turned the corner into the doorway. There she was, the love of my life, the mother of my child. She was standing on a desk readjusting the posters on my wall. She turned and saw me standing out of breath in the doorway, sweat glistening on my forehead. "You caught me." She confessed as she stepped carefully off the desk, "I was only making some minor adju-" Before she could finish, I moved toward her and kissed her. I wasn't listening to words at this point I was too caught up in the moment. With tears of joy welling in my eyes I took her in my arms, pulled her close to my body and kissed her with passion. I felt her arms slowly wrap around my waist as she melted into me. I rubbed my hands through her soft brown hair and put my lips to her ear, "We've been through some hard times and I know it's been overwhelming at times but I want you to know that I will always love you with all of my heart. I promise..." She sighed lightly and pulled herself into me. She laid her head against my shoulder and I could feel a tear soak through my shirt, "We're going to be the greatest parents in the world." She said "Yes. Yes we are." I smiled, "After all, we learned from the best." The chattering of young voices outside my door pulls me out of my memory. The first bus has arrived. "The bus is a bit early today." I think to myself as I check my watch. "Class doesn't begin for another forty five minutes." By now my eyes have adjusted to the darkened room and I take a seat at my desk. The old chair creaks and moans under the pressure and I turn on my desk lamp. It's the only light I allow to penetrate my room at this time in the morning. I set my folders and papers down and look through last week's tests, double check my grades and browse the calendar for upcoming events. My mother always told me that it's bad for my eyes to read in the dark. Maybe she's right. My eyesight is slowly getting worse, but the darkened room helps me concentrate. It helps me focus. Many find it strange that I do this every morning. I suppose it is a bit strange to show up an hour early everyday only to sit in a dark room. I'm well aware of the rumors spreading among the student body. I know about my early morning experiments with animals, my devil worship or my secret love affair with Ms. Lainey, the squirrely recluse of a librarian (I'm sorry I mean "the Media Specialist"). My personal favorite and, perhaps, most logical rumor is my early morning porn addiction. To be honest, the rumors don't bother me much and I don't blame the kids that believe them. Hell, if I was their age I'd believe them too, but the word around the Teacher's lounge is that I'm one of the cool teachers and I've always had great relationships with most of the students in my classes. I suppose I'll continue to let the rumors linger, so long as it doesn't affect the relationship that I have with my students. That's what is most important to me in my line of work. It's normal for students leaving high school to feel alone and overwhelmed by the post high school world. When they find out that the world doesn't revolve around them as much as they think. It is my hope for every student that I can brace them for the sometimes unforgiving "real world". On my desk there is one drawer I keep under lock and key. In it lies all the things I hold close to my heart. I stick the key in the hole and twist. There are various items that would be considered junk to most. A paintbrush, a guitar pick, an old worn out book about constellations. One item, however, means more to me than any of those things. I reach into the drawer and pull out an old picture. Within it's worn and weary edges are the smiling faces of two young kids in their twenties, one boy and one girl laughing with closed eyes. My hair was much longer and browner back then. Beside me is a beautiful brunette resting her head on my shoulder as a large Great Dane pup looks at us in the background. I take a moment to recall the wonderful memory this picture holds as I run my thumb over the beautiful brunette's face. It's hard to believe how much my life has changed in ten years. I've learned so much and I know that there is so much more to learn. Then I close my eyes and slip into a daydream....

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    I smiled. Smile
    This is beautiful story telling. I smiled too!