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.