L.M. Helm

Note: I submitted the following story to my high school alumni group, but I thought you might enjoy it…

"OUT!"

Mr. B was doing his best to keep us in line, but there were too many things to snicker at. The anatomical diagrams alone could have kept us giggling until graduation. You see Mr. Johns had abandoned us, his 9th grade health class, or perhaps he had fled, but in either case, Mr. B was the captain now. 

At least, he was almost the captain. The class was a sort of mutiny in progress. We weren’t running the ship, but we had taken the poop deck, and Mr. B had to restore order and he had to do it quick if he wanted to hold his position at the overhead projector.

“Quiet!” He hollered.

And so it was into a sudden, and unlucky, silence that I whispered to a fellow mutineer, “What page did he say?”

“You,” Mr. B bellowed, “OUT!”

I confess at this point I was confused. I was confused for three reasons. First, it is always disorienting to speaking into a sudden silence. Second, Mr. B was pointing, and it is never easy when someone is pointing to know if you’re the one being pointed at, although, in this case, I feared I was indeed the object of the point. And third, my pubescent brain was struggling to process the beguiling diagrams it had seen and what they might portend for my future and what they certainly meant about my past.

“OUT!” Mr. B bellowed again as he left the overhead.

“Where?” I begged, my voice cracking.

“OUT!”

“Out to the hallway or-“

“OUT!”

I scampered out of the classroom and into the hall.

“Put your nose here.” Mr. B pointed to an intersection of grout on the cinderblock wall. 

I put my nose on the spot. It was cold.

“Leave it there until I come get you.”

I did. I left my nose on that spot until it wasn’t cold anymore. 

A few people passed me by. I could not see them at all, but I could hear them. So, if you passed a young man with his nose to the wall outside a very attentive boy’s health class, look me up on Facebook. I’d rather like to know what you thought I was doing out there.

As for Mr. B, we have laughed together over this story for 20 years.