“So, in a show of hands, who hasn’t read the chapter?”
Four naively honest hands go up, but I can tell from the nervous glances darting around the room that maybe as few as four have indeed read it.
“So could someone who has read it please give us a short summary of what happened.”
Anna’s hand shot up.
“Yes Anna.” I said sighing slightly at her tiresome excellence.
“Ralph blows the conch and tells everyone to pull their weight, and one of the littl’uns says he’s seen a monster. Jack then sets off to hunt for it, and Ralph is worried that his authority is slipping. Piggy gets bullied a bit more as well.”
“Thankyou Anna, so let’s talk about the way that Jack uses the Beast to undermine Ralph’s power. Sam? You always have interesting insights.”
“Don’t know, sir.”
Sam’s intellectual decline seems to continue. Only a few weeks ago he seemed so alert, so fascinated by the texts. Now it’s hard to get a word out of him.
“Ok, Sophie, your take?”
Sophie sat next to Sam, and while not being the smartest in the class, certainly knew what she was talking about.
“It’s about fear isn’t it. That’s the greatest power of all.”
“Excellent Sophie. Now do you think that Golding may be touching on something? Perhaps the way politicians control people?”
The class awkwardly progressed to its conclusion. Little was said by anyone other than Anna and me, but notes were silently taken, and the children seemed calm, so it was not a total disaster. The bell rang, and I waved them towards the door, and sat down at my desk, hoping to look over my notes for the next lesson.
The children stood, and Rachel and Kelly headed towards Sophie as they always did. Her entourage was formidable, and within seconds they were deep in conversation. Sam slowly packed his books away, and as Sophie moved away he hurried slightly. At first I was confused as to why he might hurry, but then it dawned on me.
How exciting I thought. Was my seating plan to be the orchestrator of some great teen romance?
“Sophie…” he offered meekly.
“Yeah erm, do you want to go out with me?”
His approach was direct, and I admired him for it as the words hung in the air. The silence was heavy and Sam was visibly trembling as the three sets of eyes stared back at him.
This emptiness was suddenly broken by a small giggle from Sophie.
“No thank you.” She said, before turning and walking away silently, her friends in tow.
Sam waited a few seconds before rushing out and turning the opposite way down the corridor.
The laugh wasn’t even callous. She seemed genuinely amused by the notion. And she didn’t stop to look at her friends’ reaction, there was no indecision, just a vague hilarity in the apparently fantastical notion. This surely was the cruellest of rejections. Certainly the harshest I’d ever seen.
Sam’s performance in class soon returned to its former level, and he and Sophie seemed to go on as if nothing had happened. They still worked well in group work, and generally seemed unfazed. Within a month Sam had found himself a companion from another form.