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Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Stormy Day (Part 2 of 2)

Continued from previous post --
please see below for the beginning of the story.
Heading for shore at a steady clip, Jacob hunkered down in the face of the biting winds. Waves now slapped noisily at the sides of his boat, nudging it from side to side like a fast-paced amusement park ride. He took down a sail and struggled to steady his craft as it was tossed about on the frothy water. Sandy debris hit his face and stung his eyes, but he couldn't close them for a second. Finally, when things seemed steady for a moment, the exhausted sailor ducked beneath deck to catch his breath. It wasn't much of a reprieve, for he knew that the ship could not remain without its captain for long.

Shifra was teaching with full force when the notes started to fly. Unperturbed, she decided to continue, until the whispering started. Though she tried to keep her hand firmly on the controls, it wasn't long before the children were getting on each other's nerves, not to mention her own. Here a child out of her seat, there a voice calling out: someone's copying my paper, she pulled my hair. Shifra found herself offering punishments and rewards at a frantic pace, snapping at the children she used to care for so tenderly. Unable to bear the chaos any longer, she gave them all seatwork and left them for a moment. Standing outside the classroom, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and counted slowly to twenty. Her hands clenched in tension and every nerve in her brain was screaming, but she knew she couldn't leave her children unattended for a second longer.

Jacob couldn't remember how he'd made it this far; every muscle in his body had been thrown into survival mode for the last few hours, bypassing his conscious entirely. Awareness first washed over him when the docks pulled into view. The water was calmer here; though the sky was dark and the sea frothy, Jacob felt as though he'd left the sounds and fears of the open sea far behind. His adrenaline rush slowed, and he suddenly felt all the day's exhaustion coming at him full force. After the high activity of the morning, it was ridiculous for those last few minutes to be so difficult, yet Jacob had to muster every hidden store of energy he didn't have just to maneuver his vessel up to the dock. Ready to collapse with relief, he tied fast his boat just as the first raindrops began to fall.

The afternoon seemed like a blur to Shifra. Even with all her tricks, she never quite succeeded in recapturing her unruly class, but after putting her brain on autopilot she at least managed to keep herself forging on. Finally, an irresistable peek at the clock which had been moving unbearably slowly all day revealed that there were only fifteen minutes left until dismissal. She almost couldn't believe it; it had seemed she'd never make it this far. Sure, her head was pounding and her ears would probably never be the same, but at last this ordeal was almost over -- and she'd survived. Yet for some reason, it took every last ounce of her energy just to stay upright during those final minutes. After the children had burst from the room, Shifra was left to force her hands to keep packing away her things. She was conscious of every step on the way home, as her own feet didn't seem to be cooperating today. In a daze, she turned her key and fell through the doorway just as the first tears began to fall.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Stormy Day (Part 1 of 2 or 3)

Darn, my title sounds like something out of a primer.
Don't worry, the rest is already practically written.
I just don't have time to stick around and type the whole thing.
Just had to post some of it in time for this awesome weather.
Jacob had been out fishing for six days already. There was little in the world that he loved more than the wide open expanse of sea, the cold, salty air, and most of all the feeling of total power over his boat while still cradled in the hand of G-d. Even so, though he knew that once on land he would yearn to be at sea again, the week of long hours and intense work had taken their toll on him. Worn to the bone, Jacob longed to be at bay again and knew it was time to turn back.

Eight and a half months into the school year, Shifra was feeling depleted. Make no mistake; she loved each of her students dearly and never planned to stop. One of her favorite places in the world was at the front of her classroom, breathing life into the children and ruling with majesty, all the while marveling at the G-d given potential in each gem. Born with a love of learning and a thirst for challenge, she delighted in preparing engaging lessons for her young charges. All the same, lately her heart gave a little jump of joy each time she marked off another day gone towards summer vacation. The months of late-night planning, tense parent conferences, increasing administrative demands, and bottomless piles of papers to be graded had been steadily wearing away the Shifra that had been before.

When Jacob awoke on the seventh day of his trip, he knew with his keen sailor's intuition that something was brewing. The sky was still fair as dawn crept up, but the clouds at the horizon were swirling ominously, as if the angels were at war. Jacob's senses jumped into alert. He could feel a front coming in as the ripples on the water picked up pace. Even the nets he pulled in felt ornery today, seeming to have more tangles than usual. Although the air was still warm, a small shiver ran up Jacob's spine. He'd weathered nasty storms before, but each time was newly exciting and frightening all over again. Though young, Jacob spoke with the authority of a seasoned seaman when he asserted that no two storms are alike. Yet, though he spoke like a seasoned seaman, young Jacob was terrified of the coming squall.
As soon as Shifra walked into her classroom on that sunny morning, she knew something was amiss. The weather was beautiful outdoors and stifling inside. Though the students still had that innocent, freshly dressed look (some still bleary eyed from their early wakening), stirrings of restlessness were already reflected in their darting eyes. Shifra instantly switched gears to battle-ax mode. She would have to be really tough to survive the dread spring fever. Despite her background of many successful lessons and fulfilling days, Shifra was anxious today. It was only a matter of time before the situation would erupt.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Update and Glimpse of G-d

Just sharing the joy -- I am just about over the peak of my really hard schoolwork, and plan to catch up on the blogging big time starting this weekend iy"H.

Since I have had so much time to generate various ideas since my last posts, I will gladly take "orders" of what you'd like to see next. The menu can be found in the comments to the Monarch post, here. Or you can give your own ideas of what you'd like to hear the BasMelech views about.

I am proud to inform you that this establishment is currently negotiating a merger with the noteworthy Torah Thoughts/DOTK blog. All in favor, say aye.

Sorry, Dreamer, we don't serve alcohol here; I suspect there are minors present. The beverage of the week is coffee! And that is on its way out -- yuck. No steak, either -- just half baked food for thought. And lots of ice cream, of course.

Today I had yet another reminder that G-d is in control and you will get what's coming to you no matter what you do. I was running late getting somewhere, so I thought I'd splurge on a cab in the hopes of getting there faster, possibly even on time... and through various circumstances ended up arriving an hour and a half late! (Usually a 40-minute ride by car, an hour by public trasportation) Could have paid two dollars for the same result... Oh well, no price is too high for a good practical mussar lesson. You lay your plans, but you will get where you're going exactly when you're destined to be there.