Mrs. Navis stood in the hall chatting with Ms. Stillman. The school buses will be arriving any moment. Spring break was over. Mrs. Navis says, “Jill, how was your spring break?”
“It was awesome, I didn’t want to return. Tom and I went to Cancun. It was the best time ever. How about you, Mavis?”
Mrs. Navis felt her stomach turn at the mention of her first name. If Vincent ever knew her first name the rest of the year would be a living hell. She says, “We didn’t go anywhere. It wouldn’t have done any good if I did. I would have taken him with me.”
“Are you talking about Dick? I thought you guys got along,” says Jill.
“We do. I was talking about Vincent. He’ll be here any moment. I pray to God every night they won’t make me a fourth grade teacher. Vincent aged me ten years and the school year is not nearly over.”
“He’s such a cute boy, Mavis. And, he always seems so polite. Are you sure we’re talking about the same boy?” says Jill.
“Jill, Jill, Jill. You’re a first year teacher and you are so naive. It wouldn’t surprise me if Homeland Security already has him on a watch list,” says Mrs. Navis.
Mrs. Navis lets her emotional floodgates open, “The school holds the science fair in six weeks. Every grade participates. Right before spring break Vincent asked me if he could build a nuclear reactor for his project. A nuclear reactor! Of course, I said no. You might think that would discourage him. He didn’t miss a heartbeat. He said if he can’t build a nuclear reactor can he build an anti bomb, bomb. Can you imagine what the school board would do to me if I let a student build a bomb. I don’t care if it was anti bomb, bomb.”
“That’s silly, Mavis. No third grader can do those things. He only has a lively imagination,” says Jill.
“I’m not finished, Jill. Please don’t interrupt me. I have to get this off my chest. I hardly slept during spring break thinking about what Vincent might do. There is no way of predicting what he will do. He’s very smart. If he weren’t so smart, I’d pass him anyway. I never want to have him in class again, ever. When I told him he couldn’t build an anti bomb, bomb, he said it didn’t matter. He’d build it for fun at home. His poor mother and father. I think his mother is a little ditzy. She says Vincent will grow out of it and I need to be patient with him.”
“She might have a point, Mavis,” says Jill silently wishing the school buses will arrive and she go to her students and escape from Mrs. Navis.
Mrs. Navis touches Jill’s arm, “You have to hear this. After I told him he couldn’t build the anti bomb, bomb, do you know what he suggested for his science project?”
Jill shakes her head.
Mrs. Navis says, “He wanted to dissect a cadaver. Can you image a science project where a third grade child is dissecting a cadaver? I asked him, “Vincent, where are you going to get a cadaver?” He said, “His Uncle Pete is a funeral director and he’d ask him to loan out a body for science fair.” The whole family is certifiable. I was thinking of asking Child Services to look into the family. My husband told me to let it go. They have one of those last names that ends in a vowel and you never know what they’ll do if you cross them.”
Jill wants to say something, but her tongue is frozen, her brain unable to process the simplest pieces of information. She looks around for help, she finds it as students stream into school from the school buses. “I better get to my classroom, Mavis. The kids are here.”
“I can only pray Vincent and his parents decided to move away,” says Mrs. Navis.
From fifty feet down the hallway a voice raises above the student noise as they stream toward their classrooms, “Mrs. Navis, Mrs. Navis. I need help with my science project. What is artificial insemination?”
Mrs. Navis places a hand on Jill’s shoulder, “I think I going to be sick