When we first learned of Ms. Gregor’s elopement and subsequent resignation from the Finneway Private School for the Talented and Bright, we were stalwart in our denial. For hadn’t we loved her over all other teachers? Offered gifts of polished fruit and cheap jewelry? Followed her lessons bright-eyed and cheerfully day after day? She was our first love, and like all first loves, she stayed burned on our hearts; we would never accept the loss.
When, a week after Ms. Gregor vanished, the hapless, weak-willed substitute teacher announced that a full-time replacement would be joining the class the following Monday, we chased her out of the classroom with our jeers and catcalls. Ms. Gregor replaced! Surely it was a bad joke. Our dear, beautiful, wonderful instructor would surely return in a few days. She wouldn’t have left us permanently, not without tears and gnashing of teeth and despair.
And yet, that Monday, we had our first glimpse: he sat under the tall oak tree gnawing an acorn and shaking nervously. His beady eyes flashed as he stared at us, and then he wordlessly ran up the tree. No longer able to stare down the interloper, we sullenly gathered our supplies and marched to our classroom.
We shuffled into the classroom as we had when our dear Ms. Gregor had attended our study body; had greeted us every morning with a smile and a gentle “hello, class.” We sat calmly in our seats and awaited the new teacher. Written on the chalkboard, two words: “PROFESSOR SQUIRREL.”
And then he was there; he dashed into the classroom, jumped onto Ms. Gregor’s desk (the desk where we’d had so many tests graded, so many hearts bursting with love) and stared at us.
The laughter slowly started in the corner of the classroom and spread over us. We laughed and laughed at his bushy tail, his black eyes, his ridiculous whiskers. Professor Squirrel jumped in surprise and ran up the coatrack in the corner of the room where he chattered angrily at the class.