I want to keep this part of the story together, so I'm going to get right into it. If you haven't read Part 6, click that and read it now.
As soon as I got home from school the day of the meeting I called Will's mom at home. Of course I had told my own mom, and my closest friends, what had happened already. It was consuming me, and I was already beginning to feel I was drowning.
I explained what had happened to her, wanting to be sure this wasn't sprung on her at a later date. What I remember most about our conversation was NOT her concern about the relationship, but her conern over the fact that The Beast had put a barrier between her son and "one of the only people at school he and I both trust." She assured me she didn't have problems with him talking to me, and I remember her saying it was comforting for her to know that when she couldn't be with him [at school] she knew I was there.
The whole thing pretty much dropped at that point. Although, I knew my only choice was to be proactive in keeping The Beast at bay. The next school day I brushed off ALL huggers. "It's inappropriate," I told them cooly. It probably hurt some of them, given I didn't explain, I just pushed them away, but I figured they'd get over it. I knew there was going to be collateral damage, but I had to do it.
Max and Pierre, especially, became furious. They took it personally. They were sure I hated them, but couldn't figure out why (they were in different classes, and didn't exactly realize this applied to everyone). At first they thought it was a game or a joke, trying to be sneaky about it. They would send other students, both male and female, to give me a hug and see my reaction, trying so hard to figure out what the criteria was. Eventually they quit trying and became irritated and defeated. It bothered me, but I hoped if nothing else they were talking about it. The Beast heard everything.
On Thursday night we had Parent Teacher Conferences. Things went smoothly, and I had few parents, as is usual for high school teachers. Will's mom stopped by my room.
"What time will you be home tomorrow?" she asked me.
"Probably four," I said.
"Ok, I'm going to call you tomorrow. I need to talk to you," she said. My heart sank. Those words were NEVER good.
As promised, she called the next afternoon. She told me that she had approached The Beast at conferences to discuss her confusion over the "meeting" I'd had with The Beast. She was going in as a proponent for the relationship, but The Beast wasn't having it.
"It told me that Will spends all his free time in your room and that he needs to socialize with kids his own age," she told me.
"You know that's not true," I told her. "He's been in my room outside of class only two or three times."
"I know, he rides the bus, so it's not like he has time to hang out, and even if he did, other kids do that, so I don't see the problem with that. And he has lots of friends, girls and boys. But anyway, It also said that It came into your classroom the other morning and your lights were off, your door was locked and you and Will were standing in the back corner talking." I was speechless. I knew the exact day she was talking about, but that was a far cry from reality.
I had been sick one day, or had been home with Chloe, I can't remember now. The next morning I came in early to get my board ready. There were two girls who came in after FCA so they could work on a project. They weren't in my class, but I'd had them the year before, and went to church with them, so I allowed them to work in my room so they didn't have to sit in the cafeteria. When the students were released into the halls, Will stopped by.
"Hey, how are you?" he asked me. I explained where I'd been (I was either feeling better, or Chloe was), and he came in and started talking to the two girls. I was putting grammar sentences on the side board for the freshmen, and had worked my way to the back of the room. Will was sitting at a desk in the first row, talking to me, and to the girls.
The Beast came in about that time. The lights were on, I was doing my work, and the kids were doing theirs. It was SO innocent that I didn't think a THING about it when The Beast came in. My door had been shut, but that was to eliminate the hallway noise.
I explained what really happened to his mom, and encouraged her to ask him about it and see if he didn't tell the same story. He did.
I knew things were going to get bad. At that point I told him he couldn't be in my room except for the time he had class. I got a statement from him, and asked the two girls who were in my room to write a statement for my records. I couldn't divulge ANY details to them, but simply asked them to write everything they could remember. I have one of the notes still. She wrote that she and the other girl came to my room to work on a project, and that Will came in after the first bell. She wrote that The Beast stopped by, then they all left when the bell rang. Four matching stories versus one way out there.
I kept all these things in a folder, and I immediately contacted my MSTA representative. I used school e-mail to talk with her, because I wanted to be sure if The Beast WAS reading my e-mail (which I later found out It was) It would know that I wasn't taking this lying down. Looking back I should've hidden all my moves so It didn't have a heads up.
The vice principal began to get involved, which only made things worse. Will had told him he was feeling bullied by The Beast (and I had not talked to Will about my being bullied), and he wanted to help. He was a good Christian man (seeing a pattern here?) and wanted to do what was best, but he was also being manipulated by The Beast without even knowing it.
When I sent Will to the office later in the year Mr. Assistant told me that it had "raised even more questions." I didn't understand how me writing him up for using the F word (twice) in class made our "relationship" "inappropriate," but then again, this was like an episode of The Twilight Zone where nothing was as it seemed.
After that, nothing more was said about Will to my face, other than in a meeting toward the end of the year where I set It straight on what happened, but I knew I was being watched constantly. I kept my door wide open. I made sure Mr. English was aware of what was going on and was with me as much as possible. I stayed in view of the cameras as much as possible so I had documented proof of my whereabouts at all times. I wrote down every detail of every Beastly encounter or even classroom conflicts, and if I had ANY witnesses I asked them to write a statement for my records.
I asked Will's mom to write a summary of what The Beast told her at conferences. I was dismayed to get the following note:
I'm not going to be able to write that note for you. My husband and I were talking about it yesterday morning and in the best interest of Will for the rest of this year and in the next two years, and his sibling's upcoming future into high school he feels it will be taken out on them [by The Beast]. I am sorry but our children are our first priority.
Even his mother felt The Beast was a force to be reckoned with; one that would punish and pick on students because of Its hatred for me. She feared for her children. That should have been a red flag for ANYONE, but somehow The Beast always came out smelling like a rose...
This was only the end of October, and already I was having to be on my toes, playing offense as much as defense, all day every day. It was exhausting to say the least, and it didn't get any better.