“What‘cha doing, Miss Brooks?” Walter Denton’s loud voice cut through the empty hallway, startling the teacher.
“Shh,” she admonished. “I’m trying to see if Mr Boynton is still in his classroom.”
“Why don’t you go in and find out?” Walter asked. “Or can you tell from behind the lockers?”
Connie shushed him again, before levelling him with her Serious Look. "I don't want to bother Mr Boynton if he's busy. I just wanted to wish him a merry Christmas before the school holidays start."
Walter cocked his head. "You mean he didn't tell you about his Christmas plans?"
"What Christmas plans?"
"Well," he said, looking thoughtful, "Harriet Conklin told me that Stretch Snodgrass told her that Mr Jensen told him that he saw Mr Boynton come to school today with some mistletoe."
Connie gasped. "Mistletoe? I never thought he'd have it in him."
"Oh, it's not for eating," Walter tried to correct her, but Connie was off, leaving the squeaky teen alone in the hallway.
She knocked softly as the classroom door. Mr Boynton looked up from his desk, where he sat behind a mountain of paperwork. "Oh, hello, Miss Brooks", he smiled as he saw her, the tension dissipating from his face. "I'm sorry I couldn't join you at lunch today, but I wanted to finish grading these lab reports before the winter break."
"That's alright, Mr Boynton," she said, walking up to his desk. "I know how busy things can get this time of year, and-" She stopped as she saw a small plant sitting on the corner of his desk. It was true!, she thought, my bashful biologist did bring mistletoe to school!
Mr Boynton looked at her, waiting. "And?" he prompted.
"And? Oh yes, and little things tend to be forgotten or overlooked," she said, staring right at the plant. "Little things, right under your nose."
"Oh yes, of course," he replied, slightly distracted. He placed his pen down and leaned back in his chair, looking considerately at Connie. "That reminds me, Miss Brooks, I've got a small Christmas present for you here."
"I can see that," she smiled, leaning down. The kiss was chaste, as befitting two teachers in a school environment, but it was more than Connie could have ever hoped for. She pulled back, beaming, to see Mr Boynton looking utterly confused.
"Oh, I, uh, that was nice," he scrambled, desperate for something to say.
Connie frowned. "You did bring in that mistletoe, right, Mr Boynton?"
He turned to where she pointed, and laughed. "Oh, no, I'm so sorry, Miss Brooks. That's not mistletoe- it's lettuce. For Tom, the class turtle. One of my students thought he could gift his way to a higher grade on his lab report."
Mortified, Connie turned away and hid her face. Mr Boynton hurried over to her, and placed his hand on her arm, slightly awkward but comforting, and she leaned into the embrace. "I'm terribly sorry, Mr Boynton. I don't know what came over me and-"
"Don't worry about it, Miss Brooks," he murmured. " To be honest, it was something I had been wanting to do for quite some time now, but couldn't exactly figure out how to approach it."
Connie looked up at him hopefully. "You really mean that, Mr Boynton? Oh, you've given me the best Christmas present."
He smiled. "You're just saying that because you haven't seen your real present yet- an annual pass to the Madison zoo."