• Published 12th May 2013
  • 2,612 Views, 153 Comments

Summer break, with much at stake. - My little pedagogue



A high school teacher and a lab technician undergo some alarming changes. A "Five Score, Divided by Four" side fiction.

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Chapter Three: Painting the town red

The phrase, ‘The Elephant in the room’ refers to a subject of conversation, that while glaringly obvious, and in urgent need of attention, is wilfully ignored. The issue would either be controversial, or awkward, and therefore discussion of said issue would cause no small amount of discomfort for one or more conversing participants.

Or to put it another way, if there was an elephant in your living room, everyone would notice the damn thing, but would conclude that drawing attention to the fact that there is a fucking elephant in your living room, would be far too upsetting or tactless an action to perform .

I always thought the idea of an elephant being ignored out of politeness was absurd, and the naming of said phrase was mostly hyperbole.

And yet here we were, three close friends blithely exchanging jokes and anecdotes, while dancing around the fact that two of us both turned up with aggressively bright coloured hair when a mere handful of hours ago our hair was not only uncoloured, but I’m pretty sure it was a few inches shorter.

What can I say? We’re British.

Sharon was dealing with the changes in the way she deals with most of her problems when off work: Killing it with booze.

Since she looked positively carefree, I was compelled to partake of her coping mechanism. That, and I felt I needed my inhibitions cutting down to size before I tackle that most pressing of matters. Asking Sharon ‘hey, I noticed your hair seems to have undergone a considerable aesthetic overhaul… did that come with complimentary matching butt decals?’

As crazy as it sounds, I was still concerned that if I asked, it might turn out that Sharon had just dyed her hair, and I misjudged her hair length… if that was the case, I would have just spilled the beans, or spaghetti, as Kyle would say, on my new daisy hips with nothing to show for it.

Seriously… was I really this much of a social cripple? Not 90 minutes ago, I was performing ACAPELLA/DC to a bus station full of strangers, but now I couldn’t share a problem with a close friend who was likely going through an ordeal quite similar, if not identical?

“That elephant can go fuck himself.” I breathe into my pint.

“snrk bwahahaha!” Sharon ejected her cider back into her pint glass via the scenic rout of her nasal passage before collapsing into raucous laughter. It was touch and go if she would stay on her chair as she lurched drunkenly to the right, desperately trying to get a hold of herself.

Malcolm’s response showed a great deal more restraint, but he too was overcome with a chuckle into his facepalm. “Don’t qualify that statement, Carl. It’s funnier if it’s left unsaid.”

“Oh sweet Jesus, you’re killing me!” exclaimed Sharon through her fit of laughter. “You were staring into space for like two minutes, Malc and I were about to start taking bets on what was keeping you so thoughtful looking!”

“I assure you, it was all for science” I fell back on my universal stock excuse. Good old science.

Malcolm stood to announce. “Well, on a slightly related note, I’ll not be participating in the stress-testing of the elastic limits of the human male bladder. Science is just going to have to find another brave soul for that one, if you would excuse me…” Malcolm crossed the room to the sign directing patrons to the gents.

Sharon called after Malcolm. “Science will need more than one soul! A single subject isn’t enough to produce a valid conclusion!”

Sharon’s words didn’t carry far through the bar. The music was loud, and the walls of fab absorbed sound rather well. I loved this bar. It was absolutely packed with nerd memorabilia from throughout the ages, the clientele was alternative and friendly, and the playlist was eclectic, and stayed well away from any of that trash you find in the charts.

Casting my gaze around the bar, I decided this would be a good a time as any to tackle that damn elephant head on. No one was in earshot of Sharon and myself thanks to the loud music, and if I left it any longer, there was a chance that one, or both of us would be unintelligible.

“So Sharon… ummm… nice hair?” smooth going Carl.

Sharon’s eyes focussed on me with an intensity that was unbecoming of her current state before she brushed aside her discomfort “Heh, glad you like it…”

Ok, she’s upset, but doesn’t want me to know she’s upset.

“Sharon… I didn’t dye my hair… neither did you… right?” I insist on eye contact which she breaks after a few seconds. Ok, she’s in the same boat as me, and doesn’t want to talk about it…

“Can’t we just leave it for tonight? It can wait, can’t it?” her pleading gaze is hard to ignore, but too bad. I need answers.

“I’m sorry kiddo, but I’m not sure if it can.” I sighed as Sharon shrinks into her seat “Look… this has happened fast… really fast… I was happy to dismiss it as me just going a little nuts, but it’s happening to you too…”

Sharon breathed deeply, her eyes turned to the floor. She mumbled, barely audible over the din of the bar. “It’s not… it’s not the only change either, is it?”

I nodded to myself, nailed it Sherlock. “Something on your…” No, wait. We’re in this together. “something on our… upper thigh?”

Sharon slowly nodded eyes still on the ground.

“Flowers?” I enquired.

“No, fruit… grapes and a strawberry” Sharon finally raises her chin to make eye contact.

“I’m sorry to press the matter Sharon, I really am. But we both need this. If we keep to ourselves, we’re gonna go nuts. Even if we’re powerless to stop it, we know we both have a shoulder to cry on.” I reached across the table to place a hand on Sharon’s shoulder. “We’ll be ok, as long as we keep communicating”

I retract my hand as Malcolm reappeared in my peripheral view, “Malc! I think we’re about done. Sorry to cut it short, but I can see myself making a right twat of myself if I stay out much longer.” I retrieved my phone from my jeans “wanna go halves on a cab?”

Malcolm waved dismissively. “Nah, I’ve got friends at smokestack. I’ll head over there” his expression turned to one of concern upon regarding Sharon. “Is she ok?”

“Nothing she hasn’t been through before.” I try my most disarming grin… results pending. “I’ll get her home, don’t worry.”

I thumbed open my phone as Malcolm left. “Ok, Sharon. We’ll get you home. It’s gonna be ok.” Seeing her so shaken was disturbing. Sharon was such an unflappably cheerful woman, and it wasn’t made any easier by the knowledge that her bout of sorrow was brought about by my enquiries.

Sharon wiped her face with her sleeve, and strained to gift me with a look of gratitude. The gesture wasn’t lost on me; she knows I felt responsible for breaking the severity of our predicament to her. “You’re the best Cheerilee!”

“I know I am…”

Wait…

…Who the hell is Cheerilee?

…Oh crap, that dream…

… It was... real?

Author's Note:

again, a rather short chapter, and probably one that needs editing. I'll flesh this out when I have the chance.