Another boring day, that’s what I thought it was going to be, and for the most part, I was right. My day was filled with sniffling brats telling me some sob story excuse of why they couldn’t do their homework. If they aren’t going to do it they might as well just own up to it. I give them a whole week to hand them in and still half the class insists on not doing the assignments. Like honestly, I get it. I hate homework too, but it’s not my choice it’s principal Smith’s. He thinks a little homework is good for them. I’d like to see him waste his nights grading if he likes it so much.
After my last class came in and took their seats I took role before announcing “homework needs to be turned in,” just as I do every week. Though this should be no surprise to them half the class gasped and started to panic. I don’t know how many times I’ve told them homework is due on Fridays. It’s been like what, 3 months and they still haven’t gotten it down.
I watched as several kids raised there hand. Mr. Ackerman this, Mr. Ackerman that. I cut them off then and there, “if you don’t have a note saying you were hospitalized then no excuses,” I said only to earn a bunch of groaning and “but Mr. Ackerman.”
“Any notes? No, then no buts,” I silenced them. I collected the homework from the few students that actually do it.
“Thank you Mr. Arlert,” I said collecting Armin’s stack of paper’s.
As I was coming around the class I stopped in front of one of my students who usually does her homework. She gave me a weird look before asking, “can I talk to you after class?” This seemed unusual since she’s usually very quiet during class and always does her homework without complaint. She’s a star student and never misses an assignment, ever. Now from her, I might actually listen to an excuse.
“Sure thing,” I said before continuing my rounds. She looked different than normal. She normally was very neat and wellrested. However, the bags under her eyes, the redness in her face, her messy hair, and wrinkled up clothes told me something was going on.
After that, I passed out the next stack of assignments. I made them as easy as possible since I was really trying hard to get students to actually do their work. I swear half of the assignments ended up in the trash by the time class was ending. I just sighed and watched them get thrown away. The least they can do is hand them back to me rather than waste the paper.
The class left all but one. “Mikasa, you wanted to talk to me?” I asked taking a seat in the desk next to hers.
She nodded without looking up. I waited quietly for her to say what she needed to say but she seemed very hesitant about it. After a moment of silence passed she finally spoke up. “I know you said no excuses but-,” she started.
“I’m going to stop you there.” I wanted to make sure she felt comfortable talking to me without feeling like one of those delinquents who throw their assignments in the trash. “I only said that because I know for a fact the people who were giving me the excuses don’t do their homework, you on the other hand usually do the work so I’ll listen to what you have to say.” With that, I sat back and listened quietly.
She nodded again more confident in her response this time, however, she still looked a bit hesitant. She froze wanting to say something her mouth open but the words seemed to be caught in her throat. “My father passed away this week,” she finally rushed out. The words seemed to physically pain her. “I’m in between homes at the moment. Between trying to move in with my brother and dealing with my dad’s death I haven’t really had any time to get work done,” her voice was quiet and fragile. She was careful with her words almost as if she said the wrong one she wouldn’t be able to finish what she was saying. Her voice had started to crack towards the end and I knew she wasn’t making this up.
I’ve heard a lot of excuses and some pretty convincing but even the theatre kids couldn't pull off the look someone gets in their eyes when they are fighting against themselves to hold back tears. I’ve heard just about every excuse in the book which is saying something since some are pretty out there. Then again my seniors aren’t all that bright at times.
“I’m sorry for your loss, and don’t worry about the homework assignments I’ll give you as much time as you need to make them up.” I hated having to say that. I wish I could just say you don’t have to turn them in, but Erwin would have my head for that. I wanted each and every one of my students to have the chance to succeed but I more than anyone know just how hard a loss can be on a person.
I lost my mother at a young age, and in the neighborhood I grew up in death was as common as a cold. I lost many friends growing up and though it was hard I had to keep moving forward despite grief trying to hold me back.
Grief throws people into a pit that’s hard to crawl out of. It causes star students to have F’s, happy people to become depressed, and strong people to come undone. It has the potential to ruin lives, but only if you let it. Grief is a grave that tends to bury people, and though it’s hard it’s not impossible to dig your way out of it. Life goes on whether you want it to or not.
“Thank you,” She said quietly not a word more was spoken as she slowly gathered her things to leave. It’s almost as if she couldn’t bring herself to say anything more. The tears made her eyes gloss over. If she said anything more they might have just spilled out. When the door was closed I let out a sigh. The school day was over, finally. It ended off on such a depressing note I couldn’t help but worry if she would be okay.
She said she was moving in with her brother, so at least she has some family. I’ve only met her dad once, he seemed like a perfectly healthy gentleman. He did, however, briefly mention that her mother had passed away a few years back. It was such a shame for her to lose both her parents so early on. It almost reminds me of my childhood… Let’s not go there. Remember only look forward never back.
I cleaned the room, collected the assignments and headed out the door. Like I said just another boring day. I headed out to my car and started to head home. I stopped at a red light and looked next to me at the person blaring music with their window down. I rolled my eyes as I was about to roll my window up when he looked at me. He gave me a smile I’ll never forget before he started to sing the cheesy song to me. What kinda sappy romantic movie shit it this? I don’t know but it almost worked too until the light turned green. I just flashed him a smile and drove away. Well, it’s not like I’ll ever see him again. What a shame, he was kinda cute.
I was heading over to my childhood home to help my sister pack up the rest of dad’s things. I loved my dad, but I decided that I wasn’t going to let this keep me locked in my room for days on end. Well, that and the whole gravity of the situation hadn’t really hit me yet. Guess I was still in denial or whatever, but here I am driving listening to these happy-ass songs to make sure my mood doesn’t change.
I drove with my windows down since it was hot and my AC was being difficult lately. It only works when it wants to. I really should take my car in, but I just can’t be bothered.
I stopped at a light and let out a little groan this light usually took so long to change. I just turned my attention to the music. I felt a pair of eyes on me and I looked out the passenger window and lo and behold there was a person staring at me, and man was he cute. He looked annoyed that I had my music up so high.
Time to put on a show. I flashed him a smile as the song changed to a cheesy love song. Perfect. I started singing to him and he looked more amused than annoyed now. He flashed me a big smug smile before driving away. I looked up, sure enough, the light had turned green. Great, I’m never going to see him again… but he was so cute. I let out a big sigh as the people behind me started to honk. “Alright I get it,” I yelled out my window as I started driving.
I made it to the house. Mikasa was already home. She was staying here for a few more weeks since it was close enough to walk to the school. I know that’s not the real reason. The real reason was that she wasn’t ready to let go just yet. She missed him, I missed him, but life goes on no matter how hard it hurts. I told her I was putting the house up for sale in two months. Until then she could come and go as she pleased. However, we still had to get stuff out of the house and fix it up for when it was time to sell.
I could tell it was harder on her than on me. She was the one who found him. He wasn’t breathing but apparently, he was still warm when she ran over to shake him. She called an ambulance, but by the time they got there, it was too late. He had a heart attack in his sleep they had told us. Mikasa went to call me but she couldn’t speak she was crying too hard, or that’s what the paramedic had explained after she handed her the phone.
It’s been almost 5 days and I still can’t believe what happened. When I got the call I had asked the EMT to repeat herself 4 times. He was perfectly healthy but here she was telling me he had died. I always told him he was working himself too hard. I told him that he was too stressed and that he needed a break. He was a doctor who worked 24-shifts all the time. He never took a break even holidays he was being called into work.
Then again I think that's how he managed to deal with his grief. After mom died when I was 12 I started to see dad less and less. At first, I thought he was working more to support us, which was partially true, but the main reason was when he threw himself into work he didn’t have time to think about her death. He didn’t have to think about how they never found the drunk driver who hit her that night, how she apparently suffered there in pure agony for 30 minutes before finally dying, or how she would never be coming home.
I sighed and stepped out of the house for a moment to breath. I don’t know what hit me harder the realization that he’s actually gone, or the realization that Mikasa was my responsibility now and I couldn’t fuck this up. There’s still a good 7 months before she turns 18, and that means she’s still legally a minor and I was her legal guardian now. Child protective services were going to be on my ass waiting for me to screw up. I knew I could take care of her, that wasn’t the issue what was the issue is these people looking over my shoulder every goddamn second. I’ve already been visited by two child service workers asking me if I’m sure I can take care of her.
I may only be 21 but I’ve been taking care of her since she was 8. Hell, I was only 12 at the time but I still was a responsible guardian even then. Who do they think watched her when dad was working all day every day? I knew until she turned 18 I was going to have CPS on my ass every moment of every day.
I wish I could say this was just another boring day, but no it was much worse than that. Today was painful, but my smile never faltered as I stayed positive for Mikasa’s sake.