“That’s it, just like that. Good! Now hold your thumbs together and aim for the center. Press gently, but firmly, and start sinking a well.” Beth guided Alicia’s dainty hands through the smooth clay as it spun steadily on the wheel before her.
She’s doing well. I love working with kids that have talent! Beth mused as she used a sea sponge to dowse the project with more water.
“Ms. Nielson! Ms. Nielson! I need help!” Shawn. Again.
Now he on the other hand I could definitely do without! God, why won’t you just transfer Shawn to another class? He stresses me out every day and he never seems to catch on to a thing I show him! Lord, if he has to be in here, please give me patience to deal with him.
“What is it now Shawn?” She didn’t even try to hide her exasperation, as she trudged over to the mess, he called his workstation.
Destruction met Beth’s eyes the next morning as she raised the lid to the kiln. She picked up jagged remains of pottery that had shattered. A triangular piece of Cobalt Blue caught her eye. Shawn. He was the only one who used that color this week. How many times do I have to show him how to wedge his clay properly? He knows he can’t fire something with air pockets in it!
Beth took a step back and shook her head, her gaze locked onto the flower vase resting on her desk. God, I’ll give him until the last petal falls off that flower, then I’m done! I don’t know what else to do with that boy. She forced a happy face as the class filed into the room.
Shawn snapped the plastic bat into place with a mound of soft clay piled on it and sat at the wheel for his first lesson. Beth cringed with thoughts of him turning it on too high, causing slurry to fly. She took a deep breath as his foot depressed the accelerator. Her imaginings weren’t even close to the results.
She rolled her eyes and noticed the vase. It had been days since she made the vow about the last petal, but the flower still looked just as fresh. Okay God, I guess I’m supposed to still be patient, huh?
“Sorry, Ms. Nielson. Do you want to use my towel?” Shawn offered the damp rag so apologetically that Beth’s heart felt a new tenderness towards him-despite the face full of clay he’d just delivered her.
The semester wore on. Most of Beth’s students showed great improvement. Shawn still aggravated her tremendously sometimes, but these episodes were occurring with less frequency. When he did test her patience, she remembered her oath. She was dumbfounded every week when she changed the water in the vase. How is that flower still in perfect condition? It should have been wilted and in the trash bin long ago. It must be a God thing.
It was open house night and Beth had her room set up like a true art gallery. She placed the students’ pottery on velvety soft sheets of material draped over their workstations. Each project had an artist’s title card, carefully scribed in calligraphy, placed next to it. The parents and kids are gonna love this!
“Hello, everyone. Welcome! Please feel free to look around the room. Kids, show your parents what you’ve been working on and parents please feel free to ask any questions about grades, tools you see, etcetera.” Boy, that little speech sounded lame. I sounded just like my old teachers. Ech! Beth thought as she leaned against the edge of her desk and looked around the room. Great turn out at least!
“Ms. Nielson. It’s so nice to finally meet you.” An attractive woman with a boisterous smile approached Beth. As the two shook hands, the woman continued, “I’m Shawn’s mom. He talks about you so much. I hope his little crush hasn’t been too uncomfortable for you.”
“His crush?” That’s news to me.
“Yes, his crush. I assumed you knew. What with all the flowers and all.”
“Flowers?” What is this woman talking about?
“I own a flower shop, so I didn’t mind. He said yellow daffodils were your favorite. I tried to tell him that one a week was coming on too strong…”
(c) 2006 Debbie Sickler
Debbie Sickler, a mother of three boys, began writing as a hobby in 2005. She has since won several awards and been published both on line and in print. She is currently working on a Christian fantasy screenplay.