Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
By Michelle Boyd Waters
Marley Vane drew two giant stars on her whiteboard with a blue marker and turned to face her sixth hour seniors jumbled haphazardly around five round tables. It was an arrangement perfectly suited for group projects -- not so much for a five minute lecture. She took a few minutes to observe her students: six football players sporting ripped jeans and hoodies or polo shirts and jeans complained about the offensive tactics of their favorite football teams; a couple of soccer players sporting black and teal bandanas that matched their school uniforms shared earbuds; two of her mechanically inclined students swathed from head to toe in camouflage argued the virtues of Chevy versus Ford trucks; a crew of gamers sitting near the front of the room wearing eclectic costumes representative of their personal interests gathered over a table and stared down at whatever video played on someone’s screen. She waited patiently for a few minutes, making eye contact with key members of each group.
Most of the gamers and geeks occupying a front-of-the-room table settled down and put their cellphones and assorted other devices away, though Stanley Bourg and Rose Sparrow still seemed engrossed in a whispered conversation, probably about one of Rose’s legally questionable profit-seeking digital ventures. Stanley’s buddy, Maximus Nguyen, sat next to his friend, his back as straight as his asymmetrically shaved black hair, his pen poised above a spiral binder, ready to write down the teacher’s every word. On the other side, Rose leaned her round ivory cheek on her hand, stared up at Stanley, whose right eye hid behind a rakish curtain of golden hair, and pursed her mulberry glossed Cupid’s bow lips at him. Stanley -- his gangly self attired in an all black t-shirt and skinny jeans, a Borg eyepiece tattooed into the pale skin of his left eye -- slouched in his seat and tilted one ear toward Rose. His Adam’s apple bobbed prominently as he replied to her in a whisper, but his wide-set eyes stole wary glimpses at the back of the room. Miss Vane had noticed an increase in this behavior since last month’s group short story writing unit.
“Stanley?” Miss Vane called to him. He jumped and looked up at her.
“Are you OK?” she asked.
He nodded. Rose inched a bit closer to him and adjusted her crimson bandana -- her full name, Jacqueline Rose Sparrow, emblazoned across the front -- and fluffed the sleeves of her white poet shirt. Today, she’d chosen a aubergine vest and brown pirate boots to complement the black and blue hair that contrasted with her alabaster complexion. Or so she’d noted before class.
Hearing only the sounds of a football player tapping his fingers on the table, Miss Vane decided she had as much engagement as she would get for the moment.
“Now that we’ve discussed whether or not people are locked into their fates, or if we make our own destiny, we’ll explore that question through Shakespeare’s Romeo ...