2009 -- 1.2 (Spring) Fiction

Human Nature by Sharon Valderrama ~ep

They call it the concrete jungle, but I call it my personal cage of terror.  Everywhere I look there are eyes staring at me and as I breathe harder and harder my chest begins to tighten.  I can feel my heart racing and my rib cage wrapping itself around my lungs.  I can no longer speak and my sight is blurring away as every second passes.  Only two things can stop this involuntary response: one, my husband, is out of town, again, and the other is in my purse at the other side of the classroom in a locked drawer. 
      “What do we do?!” said the girl in the white blouse.
      “I don’t know, didn’t Jessie take her class last semester?” Peter said.
      Everyone turned to look to Jessie for guidance.  “Just wait, let her breathe through it,” said Jessie in a calm voice.
      This was not the best time to try and hide the fact that Jessie knew exactly which key was to the drawer with my purse in it.  This was not the time to treat me like crap in order to keep our relationship a secret. My life was on the line and I can still hear Jessie refusing to go into the drawer.
      “If she really needs help she’ll let us know.  Let her do it on her own,” said Jessie.
      “Mrs. Brandt is barely breathing! Can’t you see that?!” said the girl in the white blouse.
      “Maybe Jessie is right; maybe she just needs some room.  Everyone just go back to your seats and we’ll sit her down,” said Peter.
      Peter had tossed me like a raggedy Ann doll onto his shoulders with his large muscles as he looked to Jessie with his stern brown eyes trying to figure out how to place me.  They lifted me up into my rotating leather chair, the kind that no other teacher on this entire campus could afford: the one that Justin had bought for me for our last anniversary, the one that reminded me daily of my unethical past times.  With one swift lift and a quick turn to the chair behind my desk, I felt a jolt pass through me.
      Still sitting there clutching at my chest, I could open my eyes again as Jessie held me like those nights we had spent together; I began to think about Justin and our wedding vows.  I loved him and he loved me, I guess that’s why we got married.  I mean after dating for 8 years it was only human nature to get married. I had promised to never forget how our love had started and how strong we were together.  By now, I had realized that the past had been exactly that, the past. 
      I can’t recall the day I realized the day I fell in love with him.  I can’t even remember the last time I told him that I loved him, but I do remember when I told Jessie this morning what I had promised to Justin years ago.  I hadn’t planned on fallen in love with my student.  I hadn’t planned on falling in love with anyone for that matter. I still loved him, but I am in love with Jessie and her pleasant disposition.
      “How long was I out for?” I asked.
      “About 20 minutes, I told everyone that I’m sure you would cancel today’s class.”
      “I’m so embarrassed!”
      “It’s just human nature, but it’s okay, I’m here now.  I’ll always be here.”