shhhhh.


the young woman walked in room 55, the way she did everyday, her hair ponytailed tight as a whip, her thick shape bouncing from blue to white tile. "class is starting," she announces with a tint of sluggishness already bleeding. "class is starting," she repeats. but the class doesn't listen. with a wooden phallic figure, she rings the small bowl, a monk's golden bell to beg for rice. she asks for silence. voices fall, but spanish still spurts forth intermittently. to this, she gives the stare. a look all women have perfected. the you-weren't-listening look, the look that is a requirement for all good mothers to perfect. it's a look of disappointment, one that castrates. if the leaders of our world were given that look more often, there wouldn't be so many poor folk eating dirt from foreign shoes. for a moment, her glare works. then she turns to write the schedule on the board, and karen, a cocoa-brown skinned girl with an agile body toned by soccer, is the first to break. she says something in her native tongue that sends all the boys wild. the bell is rung again. rice has run out. "karen. that's inappropriate. you're being very disrespectful." "oh, sorry," she says. her accent masks her insincerity well. it goes on and on like this and like that, until slowly, the hairs on maestra's head begin to break free. one by one, they uncurl and fall, dangling close to her forehead. rosary beads of sweat accumulate underneath her arm, and she's praying, she's begging, for these kids to please just "shhhhh." "what's 'shhhhh'" yara asks with condescending naivete.

soon, she will discover the true meaning of this simple utterance.

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