My Eighth Grade French Teacher

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My eighth grade French teacher smoked cigarettes out back near the football field every morning. Heaving in heavy breaths he’d cough like his throat was on fire, fumes in his lungs. He drank like the skies inside his eyes had fallen, clouds of silver smoke on his lashes would linger until they looked more like fragile tears wiped by trembling thumbs before brought into account by the twenty students who wanted more than anything to leave the classroom they were stuck in.

I’d often wonder why he still did it, smoke and drink and stumble in narrow hallways crowded by teens. His eyes drooping every few minutes between projector slides of God knows what and what not. It seemed as though he would fall apart every day, as fractions of his conscience tightened around his neck. It seemed as though he had spent his whole life feeling like a stranger inside his very on body. Until he saw the grey ash in his hair and he felt his knees go weak twice a day. I think I finally get it. The piles of unmarked essays on his desk and the same green pen placed upon his left ear almost like it was glued to his skin.

I spend my days trying to find myself and I’m too often left staring at the heaps of poetry on my desk marked as “too cliché” or simply just irrelevant in any sense. And I think to myself: my eight grade French teacher was a drunk and often came off as a dick but maybe he’d just given up. At trying to find himself. Or maybe that was just who he was.-H

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