Room C-5, Eighth Grade Math: Mr. Dobbins

I didn’t want this life, Sam Dobbins told himself as he reviewed yesterday’s geometry lesson with the class. He hated math, but they would only hire him if he taught it instead of English. He had no fight left in him. When Sarah left, she took everything: the car, the house, his pride. The stress had taken its toll — in the span of six months, his hair began to grey and his face became gaunt, aging him years beyond his thirty-two.

He surveyed the room: eleven distracted faces and eager Kristin Stuart, competing for a prize nobody wanted. Sam gave in, letting her show off. Why bother even trying? he thought. All you’re going to get is hurt.

As he paced the rows, Maria Yzecka caught his eye, looking at him with a hunger that he hadn’t felt in years. He caught himself basking in the idea of it, turning away in shame just in time to see a wad of paper sail through Elizabeth Jones’ earring, hitting her neck. “Timothy Brooks!” he snapped.

Oh, God, he thought. This is going to be a long day.

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