Three minutes until the lunch bell. Betty looked at the door, seeing Rex slow down as he walked past, his utterly magnetic smile made her heart flutter.
Two minutes, she looked back at her class, everyone scribbling away at their test, except young Jimmy. He sat at his desk, calm as can be, pen neatly to the side of his paper. This was very suspicious, she would look closely at his test. If she suspected cheating he’d be straight to the principal’s office for a caning, again.
The bell rang, but unlike the usual clanging it was a gentle tinkle. Strange, why would they change the bell?
“Dismissed,” she called out collecting up their papers, taking them to the staff room. Half the room was already filled with a slight haze, the acrid cigarette smoke from the other teachers. It didn’t matter, Rex would have lunch with her today and they could discuss their weekend.
Rex had seemed so uncouth when they first met, boisterous and always a little untidy, but boy was he funny. He had her charmed within days and before long she was completely mad about him. She was sure this weekend would be the one, he was going to propose. She’d keep teaching of course, at least for a while. Teaching had been her greatest passion, until she met Rex of course.
She sat down at a round table and a neatly cut sandwich appeared in front of her. Looking up she thought it must be Rex bringing her lunch, but it was someone else. Another teacher she couldn’t quite recognise. She smiled politely and sat waiting.
The soft hum of voices around her, the ever familiar sounds of children screaming outside as they chased each other. She loved it all, but she’d give it up for Rex. Where was that scoundrel, she wondered.
Betty began to pick at the edges of her sandwich like a sparrow. She watched the door begin to open and thought, oh good, Rex is finally here. She straightened herself up, smoothing her flowery skirts around her, pinching her cheeks just a little to brighten up her face.
But it wasn’t Rex, it was another teacher she didn’t recognise. Lunch was ticking on so she decided to sort through the papers she had collected up. She’d find Jimmy’s first and work out what he’d been up to.
Looking down, confusion hit. These weren’t tests, they were newspapers and the dates were all funny. Panic set in and she started to call out for Rex. One of the other teachers rushed over, trying to calm her.
Who was this person?!
“Betty dear I’m sorry, Rex died 20 years ago.”
She jolted back to reality. She was in the nursing home again, the high school where she’d taught so long ago floated to the back of her mind. Everything still looked hazy, the cataracts were getting worse. She sat, listening to the screams of another patient down the hall, Rex was gone again.