Jefferson Navicky was born in Chicago, and grew up in Southeastern Ohio. He is the author of THE PAPER COAST (forthcoming Spuyten Duyvil) and his work has been published in Smokelong Quarterly, Birkensnake, Hobart, Tarpaulin Sky, and Fairy Tale Review. He works as the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection, teaches English at Southern Maine Community College, and lives in Freeport, Maine with his wife, Sarah, and their puppy, Olive. He has received a Maine Arts Commission Good Idea Grant, and a Maine Literary Award for Drama.
The teacher lived on the other side of the leaky river. Her students were shitheads. “There’s something about them smelling the blood of the sea early in the morning that turns them sour,” she said as she looked to some horizon free of spoiled children.
She lived in a stone house, one of the original ones, down along the banks. Would it one day be swept away with a king tide? People were always wondering such stupid things. The teacher didn’t care. She lived alone. The house was cold. The sea came in strong at the closing of the seasons. And the fog.
The teacher watched the current come in and out, and waited for the moment it would change. An oddly tranquil disquiet broke over her and she sang a song under her breath about her students drowning in the river, smothered by the raging cuff of a rip tide, beaten and crushed beneath the surf. Oh, you little fuckers, she thought with more than a little affection.
She’d been teaching many years, a solitary magic, a quiet shroud worn before a crowd. She used to teach them songs when they were little, back when there was music, back when voices lifted up to song. They’d sit on her lap and she’d sing to them. Now, the children possessed an adult’s roving, unsettled eye, watching the windows constantly, gazing out at what was never there.
The children’s parents had always been skeptical of her, though perhaps a better word was “uneasy.” She made them nervous. It was her house. No one lived over there on that side of the leaky river, on that spit of land. It was the way she carried herself.
So perhaps the teacher should have seen it coming. Perhaps another person would have sensed the danger. They came for her at night. The moon was a crescent sliver. Torches lit, they brought the law. Or what passed as that. None of the children, those innocent assholes, were with them. It’s always the parents that carry out such acts. The teacher could hear them coming before she saw them. She stood at the window, pleating the fabric of her dress between her fingers, waiting for them, waiting for them.
She placed her hand on the front door, and opened it before they broke it down. The night bulged behind the mob. She stood silhouetted in her doorway.
“If you choose to sacrifice me,” she said, her voice dead even, “know that someone, one of the children, will tell my story. In the future, when Power wants to eliminate what it doesn’t understand, History will remember me, and we will fight back.”
And that is what I am doing now. I am remembering my Teacher. I am fighting back.