As he stared ~ through the snow   


Published in The Guff & the Gaff, a Simcoe County newsletter in 1976 or 1977. Can’t ‘member ‘xactly. Roughly do! The latter, I think-ish... 1977 But not sure-isha.

© Frank Westcott, 1976 or 1977 . All rights reserved & all that, you know, the legal stuff.  

Alexis Corbett was twenty-two. He had a B.A. degree in history and had just gotten out of teacher’s college. It was the final week in May, and he’d begun supply teaching to pick up some spending money to tide him over for the summer, until he’d be working fulltime, for the first time, at Bay View Central Public School. He’d wanted to teach high school, but posts were few and he’d had to take what he could get, grade eight history.             

“Room seven,” the secretary had said. “The day plan should be on the desk. If you have any problems ring the office.” 

He counted off the rooms on the corridor. “Four, Mrs. Alcott. Five, Miss Jorgenson. Six, Mrs. Reid. Seven, Miss Wright.”             

He walked into the room. It was dull. The drapes were drawn across the windows. He went over and fumbled behind them for the cord to pull them open. Then he went to the desk. It was tidy. A clean, it looked new, blotter was in the centre. Nothing scribbled on it yet, except for a little squiggle in the left top corner. There was no day plan on the desk.             

“Ah shit…”            

The kids were coming in and there was no day plan. They came in quietly, anyway. They sat down in their rows and waited, watching him, looking at him all over and waiting for him to say something. A bell rang. It was short. About two seconds. The kids were waiting. There was no day plan and he had to say something. He looked at the clock, 9:01. He’d better say something. 

“Can we swear?” 


“Can we swear?” 

“Ah…” He’d better say something. A kid had asked him if they could swear, and he hadn’t even opened his mouth and said anything, other than, “Huh…” Better answer the kid. What kind of a kid is that? What kind of a question is that? Kids weren’t supposed to ask you things like that. Dumb kid. Better say something though. Had to say something and there was no day plan saying what to say. 

“Yea… can we swear? You swore so can we swear?” 

“Ah…” Another kid asking the question. Another dumb kid. Could they swear? What would they want to swear for? He was the one who wanted to swear. 

“Yea… you swore… so we should be able to swear. They’re only words anyway. What’s the matter with words?” 

“Well…” Must be a bright kid. Bright kids ask questions like that. Better answer the bright kid. Bright kids need answers, and this had to be a bright kid or he wouldn’t ask like that. “Nothing wrong with words.” 

“Words can get you in trouble.” 

A girl this time. A statement, not a question. She must believe what she said or she wouldn’t say it like that, making a statement about it. 

“Well, can we? Eh? Can we swear or what? Eh?” 

“I don’t think…” 

“You did it. So fairs fair. You can’t do it an’ us not. You shouldn’a done it if ya didn’t want us to do it. We all should do it. Yea, why don’t we? Everybody gets to swear. We’ll have a swear day. Yea, a swear day. We aint never had a swear day before. That’d be a good day. A swear ‘uva day.” 

“I don’t think…” 

“Are we gonna do our math?” 

“Yes, I think…” 

“Robbie’s right, sir. You swore. If you’re entitled to use profanity in the classroom, then we are as well. You have set a precedent you might say.” 


”Shsh… here comes the principal.” 

“Mr. Corbett, I presume.” He stuck out his hand and shook Corbett’s. “Everything all right in here?” 

“Can they swear?” 


THE BACKGROUND: The story, this story, ALEXIS CORBETT ~ SUPPLY TEACHER, was written in 1976 while I was teaching a Special Education Class for the multiple handicapped, which I was hired to set up in Alliston, Ontario, Canada. The previous spring, I had done some supply teaching to make ends meet. The source for this, this story, came from that period, as well as my swearing once, while in the presence of students, and wondering about it, and thinking about, then the muse landed on my shoulder, and the rest… well… is history… like all the others… like all of them… my stories, you know . Enjoy! Hope you did! I did in the writing… in the telling… as most often I do, once I get past the early jitters and not wanting to do it. The not wanting to do it part is often the trigger that gets me going, so I can get it done, and that muse off my shoulder! She’s heavy you know! And it unbalances the balance of my shoulders, when she is sitting on one. Shoulder, that is. I mean! Meant. Got it right! Or left. She sits on either!   XXX me  

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