"Sharkie, baby, drink up."
Malcolm Shirke is drunk. And dangerous. Who knows what he'll say before this lunch is over.
"Now, Sharkie. There's something we all wanna know. When are you and Jon gonna geddit together?"
This napkin has a really nice pattern.
"Come on, Jon. You're obvuzzly nuts 'bout thiz woman. You're both leaving now, so wha'z stopping you?"
Did Mr Gorgeous really say that? I can't look at him. I will never forget what this napkin looks like, though.
"Made her blush now, you dog! Hic. Gotta say, Jon, you got good taste. Shark's a fine woman. Bit scary, lot going on below the surface, but I like that. Makes me wonder wha' she'd be ... ".
"Emily, do you have another job yet?"
"No, I haven't, Melinda, but I ... ".
"Oh. Well, perhaps this time next year you'll be running away from another school. What exactly are you hoping to find, anyway?"
Er, somewhere that doesn't make me wake up screaming. But how can you say that to someone who is staying here?
"Shuddup, Melinda! Leave our Sharkie alone. A' least she'z got guts."
Malcolm! My drunken champion is still on his horse. Go on, knock her off.
"Wha' you don't geddabout Sharkie, Melinda, is tha' she'z a force of nashure. She'z za sort of teasher who blazes into a school an' blazes out again, an' everyone sez 'Blimey! Whawhazzat?' But you, Melinda, will just stay here 'til you rot."
Splat. Look at her face. She's the cat who scratches others and preens herself but never really lands on her feet. And she's not enjoying any of her nine lives.
"Eh, Melinda? You'll still be here with your ticky-wicky boxes ... ".
He's right. She'll still be here, craving approval that will never come. Oh, well.
"Do be quiet, Malcolm. The Head's about to speak."
So, Mr Gorgeous likes me. Haaah!
What if Melinda's right, though? Will I ever find a school that doesn't squash the fun out of teaching?
Never mind that now. Here he comes.
That is the best smile I've ever seen.
"A boy called Joe just gave me this letter for you. He said it was important."
"Dear Miss Shark, thank you for everything you have done for me. I knew you would help me when you looked after my favourite snail in Year 7. You have never let me down and I hope your new school deserves you!"
I remember that snail. Atahualpa, who nearly died.
"My mum says it's thanks to you that I have started coming out of my shell ... ".
This is what teaching can be. It can be magic, despite the Government's worms waving targets and clutching clipboards. There must be a school that picks off the worms better than this one does. Well, I'll just keep looking until I find it. But right now, I need a holiday.
"Come on, Mr Gorgeous. Let's get out of here."