Sometimes the most devilish things you witness in this world are inconspicuous.
I make it a point to shake hands with every student that walks into my classroom. I greet over 100 students in my 3 block rosters each and every day with a smile and a good morning or a good afternoon. I’ve found that it helps me start off on a good note with students and reset anything that may have happened the day before. Sometimes I’d pull students to the side to talk about a matter that pertains to that individual. But more often than not, it’s nothing more than a quick hello. I’d be lying if I told you that all of my students do a great job of making eye contact when they do.
This particular student, on this particular day, did make eye contact with me. He had his usual grin on his face that I may have always mistaken for contentment or even happiness. But for whatever inconceivable reason, my eyes led me to his right hand, and then to his right arm.
I used to love biking and skateboarding. I loved keeping my fitted cap in place as I sped down the hills and the wind seeped around my sunglasses. I also fell more often than I’d like to admit because of my reckless abandon. My arms and legs took the brunt of the falls, but I always recovered from the scratches and bruises. For a second, I mistook his injuries to be the same.
What happened? Did you fall off your bike?
Then I saw it. Instead of long and thick scratches that covered his arm, they were short and thin. Some even ran horizontally, which never happens in a bike accident.
Wait a minute, these are razor cuts. Who did this to you?
I immediately swallowed my stomach as I stared in horror at both of his arms. I estimated over 40 self-inflicted wounds, and he didn’t miss his wrist. I couldn’t have placed a finger on his arm without grazing them. All of them oozed with fresh blood; he certainly had not stopped until they all did.
Wait, wait. Hold, on. Let me talk to you for a minute. You gotta go see the nurse.
He ignored my plea and prevaricated behind his circle of friends who waited for him inside. What was I to do? Sometimes Satan stares into your eyes and laughs inconspicuously in contempt. Behind that sly grin of my student was an unmistakable devilish determination.
Luckily for me, an assistant principal walked by and assisted the student. I closed the door as the bell rang. For the first time in my career as a teacher, I was at a loss for words. I searched the floor for answers. In my bewilderment I forgot to take roll. I collapsed to my seat and put my hands together in a quick prayer.
Alright class, let’s get started.