I had said I’d given up, but I couldn’t. None of my letters had gotten a response. I caught her in the hallway as she was leaving her classroom for the day. Either this would be the conversation that began the healing, or the last one we’d ever have. A student was accompanying her for a few steps. I thought she might allow us to return to her room to talk, but she kept moving; she wouldn’t be stopped.
(It was a hurried, freighted conversation and I can’t even accurately recall all of it. There’s gaps, but it’s not missing much.)
“Ms. B, can we talk for a minute?”
“Sorry, I really have to go.”
Student: “I’ll go this way.” *departs*
I drew closer so that we wouldn’t be overheard, but a couple or so teachers still passed by during our exchange. “I really need to speak with you.”
“I don’t want to speak with you.”
“I have to know what’s happening.”
“Nothing’s happening. I told you that I would respond when I felt ready.”
“I know, but the longer this drags on . . . I don’t know what happened. I only know half of what happened. I don’t understand what’s going on. I gave you the truth and I thought if you read that, you would understand that this was an accident.”
“That doesn’t change how it made me feel.”
“No, it doesn’t. I know that. That will never change.”
At one point she mouthed, “Stop this,” and anger flickered across her face
“We have to have this conversation.”
“This is not the right time and place for this.”
“I know, we can do it anytime, anywhere. But we have to . . .”
“I really don’t want to do this.”
By that point she was at the exterior door and I couldn’t follow her out without making an obvious scene.
I know I was being selfish but after three weeks of not knowing, I couldn’t bear the silence any more. Her anger was apparent. The fact that she didn’t deny that this was an accident didn’t feel like a victory or vindication for me. This was a rotten way to find that out. It’s probably made things worse and crushed whatever infinitesimal chance I had. Or maybe this first dribble of anger will open the gate on what she’s been holding in. Even a torrent of anger . . . or hate if she doesn’t believe me, would lead to some conversation, some understanding, some catharsis. I just couldn’t bear not knowing any more.
But I do know one thing now. I don’t dare do that again. It’s clear that I crossed the line, but there was no other way I was going to get an answer.
- Burning Bridges