Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

The Cool Sub

by Linda Delmont

During passing period a student enters class,
cell phone in hand, asks, “Did you hear
about the shooting?” An hour ago at an elementary
school “some psycho killed some first graders,
teachers too,” she says as the room fills
and the signal sounds to start third period.
“In Connecticut,” she adds. “Where’s that?”
Others expound on the tragedy as I take roll,
pass out the vocabulary pack left with today’s
plans. Halfway through class, no one’s on task.
One boy has his head down, asleep. Another sucks
a can of Kiwi Arizona tea. Several girls text,
two converse about their love life: “I forgave him
for cheating and he can’t forgive me for lying?
Seriously?” The cheerleader who shared the grim
news eats Chili Cheetos with a plastic fork, the boy
behind her chomps a Snickers. In my handbook
of substitute teacher expectations, step one states:
“Maintain strong discipline.” It’s eleven days
until Christmas. I think of the presents bought
for the dead, huddle closer to the Honeywell
heater beside my cushioned seat. The constant
murmur of chatter and laughs seems such a comfort,
I refrain from “verbal reprimands,” ask instead
if anyone needs help. The girl seated closest
to me replies, “You’re way cooler than the sub
we had yesterday. He didn’t let us do anything.”
It’s Friday at the high school my own children
attended. What parent will care no work
was done? The bell rings and all exit alive.


SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Linda Delmont

lives in Orange County with her husband and a menagerie of pets: two pugs, two cats, a rabbit, a goldfish, and five spoiled hens. She graduated in 2012 with an MFA in poetry from California State University Long Beach and currently works as a substitute teacher in three school districts. Her hobbies include gardening, reading, raising Monarch butterflies, and shopping for bargains at the 99 Cent Store.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury