Gone Ten Years Ch. 01byJoseki Ko©
Sally Mae Johnson or Sally Struthers as we know her had waited with great anticipation for her Jonestown High School reunion. Despite her parents’ reluctance, she’d gone to college about as far away from her hometown as a country girl could get. Of course, that didn’t confine her parents to Jonestown.
When Sally Mae moved, her parents moved with her. They’d been strict disciplinarians throughout her adolescence. As she escaped her teen years, it became painfully evident that she would not escape the watchful eyes of her father and mother. They wanted to be around for her college experience.
Because Jonestown was a small town, there were no real jobs to be had. Sally Mae had earned a degree in Advertising and accepted a position at one of the well-known firms in her college town. Before Going on to Acting. She hadn’t seen any of her former classmates in the ten years since graduation – mostly because she hadn’t been back in Jonestown, until now. The reunion gave her the perfect excuse to take a few days off and visit her old stomping grounds.
What made the whole reunion even better was the fact that it was being held in the high school gymnasium. There weren’t many other places in Jonestown to have a reunion or even a big business meeting, for that matter. Sally Mae wore her favorite dress to the reunion. She spent most of the evening chatting with people she hadn’t seen in years. A few of her former teachers showed up to celebrate with the revelers. As the party continued, Sally Mae got anxious.
It was a little past 11:00 PM and most of her fellow-graduates had abandoned the gym and gone to one of the local bars. The remaining few were helping to clean up the party favors, while listening to an old Eric Clapton album over the public address system. Growing more restless, Sally Mae decided to take a look at a few of her old classrooms. The security lights were barely illuminating the hallways.
She stopped in front of her old English classroom and peeked into the window. The walls had been repainted and the carpet was a different color, but the desks and the chalkboards were the same.
Startled, Sally Mae shrieked instantly then whirled around to peer into the face of her intruder. At that moment, she caught the piercing eyes of Mr. Hugh Robertson, her old high school English teacher.
He hadn’t changed much in ten years – tall, somewhat intimidating, but extremely handsome and always very poised. Nothing ever seemed to rattle him. Most of her classmates had feared Mr. Robertson, but not Sally Mae. She’d had a crush on him for most of her high school career, but the fact that he was 15 years older than she was always got in the way.
“Mr. Robertson?” she blustered, trying to catch her breath. “You scared me to death!”
“I’m sorry,” he smiled “and please call me Hugh.”
A few moments of silence passed between them.
“So, what brings you to your old English classroom?” he asked.
“I thought I’d take a walk through the old hallway . . .”
Sally Mae’s breathing was now back to normal, but she still felt a bit uneasy.
“Things haven’t really changed all that much around here,” she sighed.
“Some things HAVE changed,” he smiled again. “This isn’t my classroom any more.”
“You mean you’re not teaching English? But you were the best English teacher I ever had in high school and college!”
“No, I’m not teaching English.”
“Then what are you teaching, Mr. Robertson?”
“If you follow me,” he paused. “I’ll show you my new classroom?”
“Hey – I’d like that!”
Sally Mae was suddenly flushed from all the attention she was getting from her mentor.
“I really don’t think that I could call you by your first name, Mr. Robertson,” she stammered.
He seemed to ignore her comment for the time being. Instead, he led her down the hallway to the Administration offices. Sally Mae couldn’t remember the paneled walls, but the floor covering was definitely a recent addition. The Administration lobby used to have a tile floor, as she remembered it. She fought to keep up with him while still taking in all the nuances of the building.
“Here we are,” he stopped in front of a large wooden door.
Sally Mae stopped with him, then read the words painted onto the top half of the door. She read them once in her head then another time out loud to give them meaning.
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