Title: Children Carry All
Law and Order UK/Matt Devlin
Word Count 575
Children Carry All
She handed a stack of paper to the first desk in each row.
“Please take two sheets, and pass the rest back”
Matt was in the middle of the row, near the wall. The girl in front of him gave him the paper. She was pretty. But her smiles were never for him.
Miss Look waited until everyone had a sheet.
“You may begin.”
Matt rested his sweating hand on the paper's edge. He wrote his name at the top, carefully.
His pencil made a loud scrape, as he worked. Sometimes he stopped to erase. He brushed the resulting pink crumbs to the floor. He could feel the tightness over the tops of his feet. The shoelaces gripped there in dusty knots. He wiggled his toes.
He was not the first to hand his paper in. He had not been as quick lately, but he was careful not to be the last either.
“Take out your books, and read chapter 12.”
Matt took out his book, and leaned over it. He kept his arms close.
He looked out from under his hair, he watched her. He watched the clock too.
She went through the papers with her red pen. He could not tell anything from her face. He had a place in the very back of his mouth where a tooth had come out. The new tooth was pushing in. It had points. It made a place to scrape his tongue. So he did that.
“Class dismissed.” He was at the door. He was in the middle of the crowd, almost out.
“Matthew-- may I speak to you a moment?”
So he had to come back.
Her eyes were trying to see into him. He tugged on his sleeves before he could stop himself. He put his hands behind his back to to keep them still.
Miss Look smiled up at him from her desk chair.
“Matthew, I have to say, I'm a little surprised at you. You did very well at the start of the year. You are a bright boy, I know that you don't have any trouble understanding the material. But lately you seem distracted. You have missed quite a lot of work, you have been late three times this week. I want to understand. Is there anything you want to tell me? If you are having some sort of trouble I would like to help. Is-- is everything all right at home?”
And now his hands were too sweaty to clasp them together. They felt wet and horrible.
“Everything is fine, Miss. I will try harder.”
He was careful with his voice. He said it good and firm, but not loud. She smiled, puzzled, but not unkind.
“All right, Mr Devlin, you may go.”
She made a sort of wry joke face when she called him 'Mr Devlin,' because of course, he was a child. He smiled too, to show he understood.
Now his hand was on the door. She made a throat clearing noise.
“If you change your mind, you know you can always talk to me.”
Matty nodded. He shut the door behind him. And now he had to really run, the sky was darkening. It was best to be home with the door to his room shut before dad came home.