Love With A Stranger

By: Riley Moreno

Chapter 1

Gabby Thompkins enjoyed her job as the science teacher St. Rita’s Catholic Elementary School in downtown Philadelphia but sometimes she found their curriculum was quite rigid. It allowed for no wiggle room to explore other philosophies not that children this age needed to be exposed to many things but hearing about how God made the trees and plants and relating that to science can sometimes be quite ordinary with no opportunity to explore other venues. As she walked through her classroom watching the eager faces of Mr. Harris’s third graders their tiny eyes and innocent looks wanting to know so much more about the world around them somewhere deep within her she felt compelled to explain the concept of alien life on other planets. Till now she had stuck to the Archdiocese’s rigid curriculum using ordinary examples such as the towering trees that lined the school’s school yard. Pointing at different examples of ants, beetles, and how the trees changed from color to another during the oncoming fall season was something that gets old quite fast.

Gabby’s classroom wasn’t no ordinary science room and already she has gotten heat from Mother Superior Nelson asking her to take some of the clutter down. Everywhere dangling from the low hanging ceilings were placards of famous scientists and their contribution to society. The placards were not your usual ones either they had a tiny red button on the lower right hand side that when the children pushed could hear a brief synopsis of the scientist’s life and dedication to science in their own dialect. The best one was that of Benjamin Franklin. Sitting there in a hard back velvet chair his wavy white hair covering his oval face and thick rimmed eyeglasses he seemed to know so much and had much to share. She often had dreams of traveling to another time zone one where she could get the viewpoints of the different men who transformed the world into what it was today. In the back of the room was an array of glass rectangular containers. Each one contained a different animal who was neatly nestled in their home of straw and grass depending upon the natural habitat they were used to it.

The children were finishing up their last test for the current curriculum. Thanksgiving break was only days away and the eager students were already chirping about the anticipating of Santa Clause coming down the crowded Market Street which many of them attended. Macy’s always put on a fantastic Thanksgiving parade. It was one Gabby treasured since she was a little girl. Holding her mother’s chubby hand her deep sea blue eyes gazing at the parade of floats and famous people her mother who rarely had off thanks to being a single mother working two jobs never missed an opportunity to get Gabby to the famous event. Unfortunately, that was the last one she would ever attend with her mother. Unknowingly her mother had been suffering major heart problems which would take her away from the little girl nearly six weeks later a week or two after Christmas. A victim of the orphanage system and being transferred from one foster home to another Gabby often wished there was a way she could have done something anything to save her mother or even bring her back. If only there was a way.

“Ms. Thompkins! Ms. Thompkins! Billy just got bit by Precious! “Starting Gabby’s rambling thoughts eight-year-old Sarah Boyd’s screeching voice brought her back to the land of reality. Sarah had one of those whiny pitches that was more painful than listening to someone drag their fingernails across the chalkboard.

Over in the far right hand corner of the room Billy’s dangling right hand was covered in blood. His thumb oozed a thick red stream from the minute orifice created by the brown furry gerbil. Its plump body scampered through the room knocking down the standing science boards from the fifth grade class’s science experiment. One of those boards had a glass jar filled with dirt and rocks. Shattering onto the hard green tiled floor the splatter of glass resonating a deafening sound that was enough to wake up the dead it would only be moments before another staff member would come on. Gabby’s anxiety kicked in full gear recalling her last meeting with Sister Nelson. Any more mishaps or examples of not being competent and her job was going to be gone. There was no room in the budget for a science teacher and the only reason they had her on was due to parental pressure. With this episode she surely be out of work and with no ability to get a job anywhere.

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