When we walked into the classroom, Mr. Hurst wasn’t okay. Our fourth-grade teacher’s hair, usually combed neatly, was dishevelled. His face was beaded with sweat, and he laid his head on his arms.
As usual, we hung our bags on the cubby hooks, took out our notebooks and pencils, and sat in our seats, ready for Mr. Hurst to start the lesson, except he didn’t. He just sat there. We looked at each other and scratched our heads, wondering what was wrong.
Finally, Kelvin yelled, “Mr. Hurst, is everything okay?” Mr. Hurst jumped in his seat and straightened up. His usually ironed sweater-vest was wrinkled, and his eyes had dark circles.
He sighed, while straightening out his shirt, “Oh, everyone is here already. I spaced out there—I was thinking about the play the teachers are going to perform today.”
“There’s going to be a play?!” we all exclaimed, as we broke into chatter.
“Did you know about it?”
“No, no one ever told us!”
“A play, that’s so nice! I wonder what it’s about?”
“I wonder who Mr. Hurst is…”
As Mr. Hurst rapped his desk with his knuckles, we quieted down. His lips curved into a half smile.
“I wasn’t supposed to tell you, but I might as well now. The play is a Halloween surprise. It’s only ten minutes long. We’re doing Snow White. I’m Prince Charming,” said Mr. Hurst.
A chorus of “oooooooh” rose in the class.
“Who’s your Snow White then? Are you going to K-I-S-S?” Millia cooed, provoking another chorus of “oooooooh.”
Mr. Hurst’s perfect posture slouched, and he frowned.
“Chad is Snow White. I have to kiss him.”
As “Chad and Mr. Hurst, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G” played in my head, I pictured a single image—our playground supervisor, Chad, wearing Snow White’s frilly, yellow dress, his muscles bulging at the arms of the dress, tattoos snaking around his neck. Then, Mr. Hurst, leaning down, cupping Chad’s beard and bald head between his arms and leaning in.
The class shook, gripping the sides of our desks. We refused to look at each other, knowing that if we did, we would all explode. Oblivious to our struggle, Mr. Hurst continued talking.
“During the nomination of roles, Chad volunteered for Snow White. We picked straws for Prince Charming. I drew the short end,” he sighed. He slumped in his chair, looking at the ceiling with a hand on his head.
“Not that Chad isn’t a good person. You’ll never see a finer man. I am sure his wife enjoys kissing him. For me it is—” he paused, “uncomfortable.” He leaned back in his seat, almost tipping it over.
“Now, I have to kiss him in front of the whole school, for the sake of some kids,” he laughed. We all stopped speaking, sitting silently with Mr. Hurst, who kept looking at the ceiling.
Suddenly, Kelvin got up from his desk, and walked towards Mr. Hurst. Our eyes followed him, as he strode right up to him. Mr. Hurst lifted his head up to look at Kelvin, his mouth in a straight line.
“You just need to get out of the play, right?” Kelvin confirmed.
“Yes?” Mr. Hurst tilted his head to the side as he looked at Kelvin. We stared at both of them. Kelvin grinned, and clasped Mr. Hurst on the shoulder.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get you out of it,” he said.
“How?” Mr. Hurst demanded, his right eyebrow twitching as he scrutinized Kelvin.
“You’ll see,” Kelvin chuckled, with a smirk on his face. He strutted back to his desk, lounged back against the uncomfortable plastic chair, and propped one foot on top of the other. We gawked at Kelvin, but he ignored us. He just sat there, put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes.
We formed a small, tight circle around Kelvin during lunch.
“Kelvin, what are you going to do?” Millia asked. “What do you mean, you’ll get Mr. Hurst of it?”
Kelvin smirked and popped open a large bag of Cheetos.
“Wait and see guys,” he whispered, putting a Cheetos in his mouth with an audible crunch. “It’ll be a show.” He popped open another hugebag of Cheetos and started eating it. No matter what we asked, he would just smirk, shake his head, and pop another handful of Cheetos in his mouth. So, we waited until the assembly that afternoon.
At the assembly, the principal droned about playground regulations, but we paid no attention. We were all fidgeting in our seats and sneaking peeks at the clock every five seconds. The minute hand seemed to get closer and closer to when the play was supposed to start. We looked at Mr. Hurst who slumped an extra millimeter with each second and then we glanced at Kelvin, and waited for him to do something. He did nothing. He just sat there, looking pale. He stared at the floor and grabbed the sides of his stomach.
As the principal announced, “And now, let us begin our teacher’s play,” Kelvin’s eyes started to widen. He gagged and made a loud MMPH sound. Everyone, even the principal, stopped and looked at him. He made another MMPH and clutched his stomach and mouth. Then, he opened his mouth and instead of MMPH there was a BLARGH, and he puked all over the gymnasium floor.
We all squealed “EWWWWW,” and edged away.
Everyone else in the gym smelled the barf and started screaming “EWWWWW! SOMEONE PUKED!! GROSS!”
Eventually, Mr. Hurst had to take our class out of the gymnasium and take Kelvin to the infirmary. As we walked out, we passed Kelvin’s barf. His cheesy, orange barf. Mr. Hurst looked at it, and then at Kelvin. His mouth trembled a bit as he struggled to keep a straight face. Kelvin looked back at Mr. Hurst, and with trembling hands, gave a thumbs up. Mr. Hurst hugged Kelvin’s shoulder, and they made their way to the infirmary.