Day 17 - A Teacher's Love




A TEACHER’S LOVE
(Story by guest-author Laureate)


Ms. Kent loved her students and would do anything for them.

The rain cleared for the first time all day, so she let them out for recess. The children stumbled out, holding hands and cheering. The sky was cloudy, giving the wet grass a blue pallor. As her children ran across the playground, she saw them stumbling through sea foam, their sneakers lost in the grassy surf. One of her girls, Leora, ran around the lee of the building to the edge of the playground. Ms. Kent blew her whistle and yelled.

Leora! Get back here!

Then came the blast.

Ms. Kent watched Leora dissolve in an instant of light. Heat poured off of the school.Forgetting herself, Ms. Kent staggered to what was left of the building. Brick had already melted and cooled into a congealed red frosting. The stink of the lunchroom billowed out of the building. Asbestos seared the eyes.

Ms. Kent?

She ran back to her students, akimbo behind the wall of the school. She pulled out her whistle and blew.

Line up, she cried, line up!

They pulled themselves up. Some cried or had questions, but she shushed them. Routine took over, and they lined up like they had been taught. And they followed her.

She counted them. All were there, minus Leora.

They walked down the middle of the road, though it stank of tar and burned their shoes. The houses blazed and the lawns smoked. A car tore around them, racing nowhere.

Ms. Kent half led and half carried the children until they reached a building that wasn't burning. Inside people huddled, scared. She picked up each of her children and showed them to those gathered.

Are you this child's mommy or daddy?

One woman screamed and sobbed at the sight of Dean, a little towheaded boy. Grudgingly, Ms. Kent let the mother take the child. Dean held his mother and they fell to the ground crying.

Ms. Kent sighed and led the children up the stairs of the building. She found an old office and told them that this was home for a little while. She dragged in some office chairs and ripped out the cushions and told her students to use them as pillows.

Everyone in the building shared what little food there was. The others stayed on the bottom floor, hoping for rescue. A few left and promised they would send help when they found it.But the foul air struck them down after only a few steps. No one left after that.

Days passed. The vending machines slowly emptied.

One night, voices down the stairs woke Ms. Kent. She slipped out of the room and crept down the stairs. The survivors were gathered at a window, pointing and arguing. Figures walked to the building, attracted by the survivors. But the survivors were blinded by their hope. They refused to see the figures were not human. Ms. Kent ran upstairs and blocked the door. The children stared at her, frightened.

Shh. Be quiet. Cover your ears, children.

Dean banged on the door, his mother screaming at him to hide. Ms. Kent swallowed a lump, and curled up, leaning against the door. Little fingers reached under and Ms. Kent held them.  Dean’s body pulled back and forth, but he never left the door. Ms. Kent listened as the intruders slurped and chewed Dean’s body. Eventually, all she had left were his fingers.

Ms. Kent treasured those fingers and kept them as talismans of her failure to protect Dean and Leora.

The food lasted longer, but it still ran out. The children groaned. They grabbed their stomachs in pain.

The downstairs was empty. The food was gone. The people were eaten. Ms. Kent stared at her children and held up Dean’s fingers. With a knife, she cut them into several equal pieces.When her students had eaten the flesh, she taught them how to suck the bones for nourishment.

The bones lasted for a day.

Ms. Kent took a knife and cut off her own hand and cooked it. Then her feet. As time went on, she gave the children her calves. Next her shoulder.

Ms Kent’s body wheezed. The children sat around her, waiting and famished. Their eyes were hollow. They bent towards her, their mouths dripping with saliva.

Ms. Kent could see the hunger in their eyes. She tried to escape, but they grabbed her remaining arm and held her down. She screamed as their little teeth ripped into her belly.

Ms. Kent loved her students and would do anything for them.









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