Claustrophobic in the Classroom

These are certainly interesting times to be a teacher. Standing at the front of the classroom and seeing 16 pairs of eyes staring back at you, while their faces are covered by a mask. It is a different look and one that has taken some getting used too. There have been certain challenges which have come with teaching during the Covid era, some of which I certainly could never have imagined.

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All Debts Must Be Paid : Short Story

How did I end up with such a weirdo for a landlord? Why couldn’t I have got the nice old lady who would bake me the occasional cake? That’s what Ben got. Me? I got the ghost. I call him that because of the permanent grey pallor which he displays. It gives me the creeps every time I see him. If I have to talk to him I can feel the cold sweat begin to form on my forehead even as I approach. And now this. The rent is due and my account is empty. A lack of planning has caused an imbalance in the cashflow situation. So I have to ask for an extension from Mr Friendly.

Standing outside his door gives me a sense of dread like no other. Whenever I have to visit, which is infrequently, just knocking on the door takes an extreme act of will. When he opens his door it is always just a crack, he obviously prefers to conduct business on your threshold rather than his. Every time I have knocked on his door I have sensed something, like a chill, and this time is no different.

Once he opens the door I explain the situation. I have always been a good tenant, this is a one off situation, it will never happen again. He nods, but then shakes his head.

“All debts must be paid,” he says, “somehow.”

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Post Lockdown: Summer Ends, Back to School

These have been strange times for everyone, and it’s going to be hard to get back to normal life. As a teacher it has been some time since life was completely normal. Teaching from home from March until June, then the summer holidays began. Now I am not complaining about that, believe me. But now it is back to work, and who knows how things will be, and what systems we will have to follow. One thing is for certain, it won’t quite be the return to normal that many people would have been hoping for.

Here, in the Czech Republic, things are fairly normal, but that is only when compared to other countries. Restrictions were lifted quite some time ago, but now there is uncertainty in the air. Children will return to school, as will face masks to our lives. So some rules will come back into force, but which ones? Seemingly, our government can’t decide. They say one thing one day, a few days later they seem to be having second thoughts. Perhaps they should have those second thoughts before they announce anything, at least if they don’t wish to appear foolish.

Luckily us teachers have a week in school before the students return, so there should be time to get everything ironed out. There will also be some time to get used to being back in an office again. Working from, and being at, home more often has become the norm and it may take some time to readjust. I know that returning to a normal life is important, both for me and my family, and I know that it will be a healthy thing for our lives. But, still, I can’t help but feel slightly nervous. We are, after all, entering the unknown.

Words © Neil Hayes and neilhayeswrites