This came to me on Wednesday (and I somehow managed to remember it until I wrote the gist of it that night). I was thinking about what would happen if I decided to add in additional details of the story (because I have thought about combining the many additions I have made with the original story), and I thought about Aidan going back to work a few days after losing his Gran. I wrote a basic skeleton, and then typed it up last night with more detail. It’s three pages, but I think it helps illustrate the depth of Aidan’s grief.
Aidan had taken the rest of the week off, but by that Sunday afternoon, was telling Matt and Eoin that he was ready to go back to work Monday morning.
“I think that’s a big mistake, Aidan.” Matt was coming back into the living room, holding a cup of tea, which he handed to Eoin. Aidan’s eyes shot to Eoin for back-up.
“For the first time in a long time, I actually agree with Matt,” Eoin said, taking a sip of tea. “Your granny died four days ago, and you’re ready to go back to work? I’m sorry, but that seems quite far-fetched.”
Aidan gets up from the sofa, and stands in front of the TV so that he can address both Eoin and Matt directly.
“I feel ready, okay? I haven’t cried for eight hours, and I think that is progress. Besides, I miss my students. I appreciate both of you offering me your input, but in the end, it’s up to me to make this choice.”
“And I think you’re making a huge mistake,” Matt said under his breath while turning his head and scratching his nose.
“You’re entitled to that opinion, Mr. Collins—don’t think I can’t see you gesturing at Eoin!”
That next morning, Aidan got up and got ready for work. Yet somewhere between getting into his car and arriving at the school, he became incredibly depressed. He went into the office to check his inbox, and his co-workers were commenting behind his back on how bad he looked. His hair was brushed and his clothes were clean, but his face betrayed him. His face was still tear-stained and his eyes bloodshot. He looked as though he was at death’s door, and everyone was wondering why he was there. Even the Headmaster, Mrs. Peterson questioned him, telling him they could have someone cover his class for the day. Aidan maintained he was fine, and he walked out the door toward his classroom.
He briefly smiled as his students greeted him, but he quickly went back to feeling sad. Once his students had got a better look at him, they were just as concerned.
“Mr. Reilly, what’s wrong with your face?”
“Nothing is wrong, Jane. Take your seat, please.” The little blonde girl does as she is told, and looks anxiously on as Aidan walks to the board.
For an hour, Aidan manages to teach his students grammar. He moves on to English history, and teaches about King Henry V. He tells of the Battle of Agincourt, which seemed to be in France’s favor, but one the English dominated. It’s at this point Aidan’s resolve is wearing down. He manages to keep it together, until he informs his class that Henry V died tragically at the age of thirty-five. He drops his pen, and begins sobbing uncontrollably. He scares his students, and some of them begin to cry out of fear. Jane gets up from her desk, and runs to the classroom next door to get a teacher.
Aidan excuses himself from the class, apologizing for scaring them as he walks out the door. He manages to make it past two classrooms before two of his co-workers wrap their arms around his shoulders and escort him to the Headmaster’s office.
“I have to commend you Aidan for trying to come back to work so soon after losing your grandmother, but it’s clear that you’re not quite ready yet. Take a few more days, we’ll find someone to take your place for the time being.” Aidan nods solemnly, sniffling.
Mrs. Peterson accompanies Miss Pascal to Aidan’s classroom. Mrs. Peterson is grabbing Aidan’s personal effects so he can go home, and Miss Pascal is taking his place. It was lucky for the school that they were able to get a substitute in twenty minutes to fill-in for Aidan.
“Students, this is Miss Pascal. She is going to be taking Mr. Reilly’s place for the next few days while he is getting better.”
“Why was he crying, Mrs. Peterson?”
“His grandmother died a few days ago, and he is very sad. He thought he could come back and teach you all, but he wasn’t ready yet. But he should be back soon and be much happier. But until then, Miss Pascal is your teacher, and I want you all to treat her with respect.” She turns to the teacher that was watching the class, and thanks him.
Mondays were usually days when Matt would have a few hours to himself after-school because Aidan did yoga, and wouldn’t be home until after six. So when he walked through the door to find Aidan sleeping on the sofa, he said, “huh?”
“Did you decide not to go to yoga?” Aidan woke up, and popped his head up off of the pillow.
“No, I left school this morning.” Matt walks over, dropping his bags. “I was teaching them about Henry V—the king, not Shakespeare, and I started crying. In the process, I upset my students, and that was the worst thing I could have done.” Matt rubbed Aidan’s back reassuringly, but he chuckled.
“I’m sorry, baby, but Eoin and I warned you it wasn’t the time to go back to work.”
“Well, thanks for not rubbing it in my face,” Aidan said with a smile.
“No problem,” Matt said, pressing a kiss to Aidan’s temple.