“Stay away from my husband.” I look up, along with every child in my classroom.
“Can I help you?” I stand up from where I was sitting on the floor in a beanbag chair having story time.
“You need to stay the f**k away from my husband!” It takes a second for me to realize who she is and who she’s talking about. She looks different from the last time I saw her at Cash’s parents’ house; her once brown hair is now blonde, and she’s wearing jeans and a sweater that is cut low, showing way too much cle**age and it looks like she has lost twenty pounds.
“Let’s talk in the hall,” I say softly. I have a classroom full of seven and eight year olds; I don’t need her to start yelling and screaming in the middle of my classroom.
“I don’t want to talk to you in the f**king hall. I want you to tell me that you will stay away from my husband.” I walk to the door of my classroom. Once there, I turn slightly to look at my students.
“Molly, will you please finish reading the rest of the story to the class?” Molly stands, picking the book up off the floor before sitting in my chair. Once I see that she is seated, I turn to face Cash’s ex.
“Let’s just step out into the hall.” I step out, hoping that she will follow me and not cause a scene in front of my students.
“I told you already, I’m not talking to you in the f**king hall. I am not talking to you at all. The only thing that I want is for you to tell me that you are going to stay the f**k away from my husband.”
“Can you please calm down? There are children here and you are scaring them,” I say quietly, stepping further into the hall. She finally steps out with me. I take a breath, feeling better knowing that she is away from my kids. I pull the door closed behind me, turning to face her.
“So, tell me that you are going to stay away from him.” She crosses her arms over her chest, glaring at me. I am not going to stay away from Cash. I love him. He is amazing with Ashlyn and Jax. He makes me smile, and I am really happy for the first time in a long time.
“You and Cash are divorced, and if you have a problem, you need to talk to him about it,” I tell her, using the same tone I use when speaking to students that are misbehaving.
“He will always be mine, and when I want him back, he will come back to me.” It was on the tip of my tongue to ask her why she did what she did to me—making me believe that Cash had wanted me to get an abortion while holding her own pregnancy over his head. “I will talk to him.” She leans forward, forcing me back. “I am going to let him know that if he doesn’t stop seeing you, I will make it so he won’t see his son.”
My stomach drops. “You can’t do that.” I do not understand why she is so hateful.
“You, bitch, do not get to tell me what I can do. Just stay the f**k away from him!” she yells.
“Lilly, are you okay?” My eyes fly to the door across the hall from mine. David has his head peeking out, looking between Jules and me.
“Yes, fine. Sorry about that, David. She was just leaving.”
“I’m not leaving until you say the words I want to hear.” I look down the hall, watching as the principal starts heading our way. My pulse speeds up; she looks mad—really mad. Oh God, I was going to get fired. I knew right then that my job had just been lost because of Jules.
“Lilly, what’s going on? You have students, and I have gotten three calls from different teachers about cursing and yelling in the hallway.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Jennings. She was just leaving.” I look at Jules and her face completely changes; her eyes start to tear and she points at me. “She was yelling and cursing at me. She is having an affair with my husband. I came here to talk to her, to try to get her to understand that I have a child.” She breaks down sobbing. I am stunned. I cannot believe that this is happening.
“Oh, my God,” I whisper in shock. Mrs. Jennings looks at me with complete disgust, and she would believe it; rumor has it that her husband had been caught cheating on her with a close friend.
“That’s not true.” My voice is so quiet it can hardly be heard over the sounds coming out of Jules’s mouth.
“Lilly, I am going to have to ask you to wait in my office while I find someone to take over your class for the day.”
“Mrs. Jennings, please.” She glares at me, pulling Jules into her arms.
“You need to get your bag from your classroom and wait for me in my office. I will be there shortly.” I look between her and Jules before walking into my classroom. I know it’s pointless to argue with her right now. I turn away from them, walking back into my class where my students are all talking quietly around the reading rug.
“I’m sorry, you guys, but I am going to be leaving for the day. Mrs. Jennings is going to be sending in another teacher to take over. Until she gets here, pull out your solar project and start working on that.” I watch as they all get up off the ground, going to their desks to start working. I go to my desk and grab my bag, along with a few personal items that I keep in my desk. I want to tell my class how much I have enjoyed teaching them, but I know that they are already upset about the way Jules was acting, and if I say the wrong thing, it could upset them even more. I leave the class, closing the door softly behind me. I walk around Jules and Mrs. Jennings, and head straight for the principal’s office—what a cliché. When I get there, her secretary shows me in and I take a seat, waiting for my execution. It takes about fifteen minutes for Mrs. Jennings to enter her office, and I know the second I see her face that my job is not salvageable.
“Mrs. Donovan, what happened today is unacceptable,” she says in a tone that makes me shift in my seat.
“Yes, I know, but if you—”
“I am going to be turning your case over to the school board,” she cuts me off.
“But if you would—”
“You will be put on leave until the board is ready to hear your case. You will be assigned an advisor from the union.” She wasn’t going to let me speak; her own situation wasn’t allowing her to. I shake my head.
“Mrs. Jennings,” I try again.
“You’re dismissed until further notification. Your belongings will be packed up and waiting for you in the attendance office. You can pick it up any time after tomorrow.” I sit there for a second, trying to come up with something to say, but no words are making it from my brain to my mouth. “That will be all, Ms. Donovan.” She waves her hand, then looks down at some papers on her desk and starts writing. I’m dismissed. I stand on shaky legs, trying to keep it together, at least until I’m in my car. Once outside, the cool air helps make it easier to breath. I dig around in my bags until I find my keys, fumbling with them until the door unlocks. I sit behind the wheel, laying my head against the headrest. I have no idea what I’m going to do. I open my eyes when there is a tapping on my window. I turned my head, seeing Jules. I’m not going to roll down my window or open my door. I’m done dealing with her. I put my key in the ignition and turn my car on. She starts banging on my window harder, yelling at me to open the door. I don’t even look at her when I click my seatbelt into place before putting the car in drive. That’s when my window shatters. I scream, looking up at Jules as she reaches her hand in, grabbing a handful of my hair. I hit the gas. Pain rips through my skull. She runs with my car for a second before being forced to let go. Tears start streaming down my cheeks from the pain at the back of my head and the stress of the day. I look in my rearview mirror, seeing if I can spot her following me, but she is nowhere in sight. When I pull into a large parking lot, I put my car in park, digging out my phone. I need to talk to Cash and tell him what happened. Once I finally get my phone and call his number, his phone rings once before going to voicemail. I lay my head back for a second before deciding that I may as well go pick up Ashlyn from Susan. When I call her, she tells me that she and Ashlyn took lunch to the jobsite, and to meet her there. I hang up, putting my car back into drive. My hands are shaking the whole way; I don’t even remember driving when I pull up next to Susan’s car. I don’t even think; I hop out of the car, glass falling to the ground at my feet. Nico walks around the corner at the same time, his eyes going from my face to the window, and then to the glass that is now littering the ground.