Adventures in Education (part 2)
"Danny, sweetie, that's not a letter," Ms. Anderson informed gently, leaning over the child's desk to look at his work.
Danny's nose scrunched up and he squinted at the paper. "It's lgyb," he voiced, very positive he knew what he was doing.
Upon hearing the word, Ms. Anderson nodded. "Did Kitty and Johnny teach you another word?"
"Yeah!" he answered excitedly, grinning at the teaching assistant. "Kitty says I'm getting better and everything."
She couldn't help but smile at how happy he looked. "I'm very proud of you," Ms. Anderson said, smiling when he gasped happily, "but this writing assignment is important so I won't be the one grading it."
After two years of teaching Danny Fenton, Ms. Anderson had picked up on a lot of things. One being that the air was always cold around him and two that he tended to speak, think, and write in different languages.
(There were a lot more things than that, but his not-so-imaginary friends and his language habits were the only ones she'd managed to keep the other adults from knowing about).
As soon as Danny's letters started changing after he'd learned parts of the English alphabet, Ms. Anderson began keeping track of the odd squiggles he used every so often and compared them over time to his work when he wrote in English. Every time he learned a new word from his friends, she added it to the list of translations she had pinned on her desk. Instead of trying to force the child to only learn English, she simply translated all his papers when grading them and gave him a score as if he had written it all in English.
"Can you tell me what this means, Danny? I'll add it to your chart," she soothed, pointing at what looked like weird symbols to her.
"lgyb! Cat! Not Kitty, though. Kitty says cat is not Kitty and Kitty is not a lgyb," he informed her very seriously.
As he spoke, the teacher walked by, casting a curious glance downwards at her assistant who was on the floor by the Fenton child again. "Anderson," she spoke as she passed, raising an eyebrow when her assistant moved in front of the child as if hiding his paper. "You're playing favorites again."
"Danny just needed some help spelling cat," Ms. Anderson answered, straightening to her full height. She may just be a college student, but she was a large woman with an intimidating stance.
"I'm meant to help with little things, am I not? I hardly think an exercise such as this needs your expertise." She kept her voice friendly, but the teaching assistant obviously meant to push the nosey teacher away.
The teacher frowned, looking over Ms. Anderson's shoulder at the humming child watching them both. "My recommendation means more than your refusal to the school board," she hissed. "If you continue to spend so much time on this one child I will have him placed in a special needs classroom."
"That's not needed," Ms. Anderson argued, but left it at that when the teacher walked away. Once the distance was almost five desks, she turned to Danny again.
"What's special needs?" Danny asked, continuing to write, thankfully in English.
"It's a class that helps students who need more individual-based instruction," she answered, forgetting she was talking to a four-year-old for a moment. Danny blinked at her and she blushed in embarrassment. "Ah, well, it sort of means their minds run differently than you or I– faster, slower, and making more unique connection than you or I ever could– and sometimes they have to do things different."
"You do think differently, Danny," she admitted, patting his head, "you're such a gifted child, but if I let you go to the other class, they wouldn't understand your odd words or your friends like I have. I'm just afraid they'd end up stunting your progress."
Danny nodded, showing his paper and completely ignoring the explanation. "Done!" he cried, smiling at his project full of several new symbols and only half written in English.
Ms. Anderson sighed fondly, wondering if it was worth it to ask the head teacher to let her grade it.
The two teachers on recess duty watched the children out of the corner of their eyes.
"He's at it again," Holly remarked, frowning at the Fenton kid as he talked to what appeared to be himself. Every teacher kept a particular eye out for the constantly cheerful child, waiting for the day a tantrum would come with baited breath.
(Every child had one now and then so why would this one be any different.)
Her friend sighed, using his hands to rub his forehead. "Look, if the kid wants to talk to things that can't reply, so what?"
Holly turned to George. "He talks to walls."
George threw his hands in the air. "Honestly, they're better conversationalists than people."
The woman huffed at her colleague, crossing her arms. "He doesn't talk to the other kids, he doesn't make friends–"
"–and the world is obviously against you today because would you look at that," George interrupted, pointing at the playground where a girl was hesitantly approaching the Fenton kid.
He turned to her as the strange event unfolded before their eyes. "Now, please, tell me I'm not going to win a million dollars."
"Shut up, George."
"Hi!" Tavasha said, smiling at the weird boy sitting by the daises. Her curls bounced as she plopped herself in the grass next to the boy. "I like your butterfly clip."
The boy immediately went wide-eyed. "I do too! Ms. Andy gave it to me last year 'cause she says imma be an astra.. aster.. asternayot when I get older!" He frowned and moved his tongue a bunch of times, as if he didn't know why he couldn't make his mouth sound the way his mind said things.
Tavasha picked a couple daises as they talked, already taking a liking to the other child. "What's that?" she asked, nose scrunched. "My Mommy says I gotta be a doctor to help people."
The boy excitedly told her about the stars and something called space. "You go up there?" she gasped, leaning forward and eyes sparkling.
Nodding, the other child bounced up and down. "Uh huh! I went before!"
"Yeah huh! I r'member!"
"You are lie-ing," the girl laughed, not mad at all. She picked one of the daisies to place in the boy's hair. "What's your name?"
Another hand reached over and took a daisy from the field. "I'm Tyler," said a boy, suddenly appearing out of nowhere and sitting next to the two kids. A couple more of their classmates started making their way over as the small group made a lot of noise.
"My mom told me about space," Tyler informed, looking very proud when Danny and Tavasha started excitedly asking him questions.
Danny was very happy. He had his ghost friends, but they were always telling him that he needed to make human ones too. His classmates never made an effort to talk to him, though, so he just went on having fun with his ghost friends and Ms. Anderson. But now that he had human friends, there was a warm, bubbly feeling in his chest and he wanted to make as many as possible!
Soon enough they had half the playground sharing stories about space and the stars. When they moved onto friends and family, Danny wanted to share Kitty, Johnny, and Seven with his new friends, but he thought Ms. Anderson might not like that.
Then he remembered that she had only told him not to tell other adults. His classmates were his age so it was probably okay.
Across the playground, several of the teachers on duty and the ones watching from the windows smiled happily at the sight of Danny finally getting along with the other kids. He was such a sweet child, but he never interacted with anyone but himself and that one teaching assistant from the classroom down the hall.
The teachers had all been wanting Danny to make friends.
If only things hadn't fallen apart so quickly because of it.
Ms. Anderson tried not to let things get to her. She was a very calm, patient individual, but when parents started showing up without their children before school began at the end of the week, she couldn't help but cast worried glances towards the door of the head teacher's office.
Four families showed up and all looked less than thrilled to be here. Whatever had happened, it was bad, and Ms. Anderson almost fainted when the head teacher made eye contact through the window.
She walked to the office as if a chain were weighing her down. As she entered, she noticed the frustrated expressions on the parents' faces, but they didn't appear to be aimed at her. "Is something the matter?" Ms. Anderson asked.
The head teacher held up a copy of Danny's work and something that made the assistant's heart stop: her translation paper.
"What is this?" the head teacher asked sternly, eyes pinched.
"That's– Danny has trouble with writing sometimes so I, well, he mixes the words enough that I started keeping a paper to help understand what he meant," Ms. Anderson answered, turning to watch the parents who were still looking less than pleased.
The head teacher stood. "What else have you been keeping from me?"
"He told my child there were monsters haunting him!" a parent cried suddenly, stepping forward to face Ms. Anderson. "And not just under his bed, he told my son they're everywhere, but no one can see them but him. Tyler hasn't slept all week!"
"He told my Jesseca that he used to look like her," another woman shrieked. "There was a child like that here at our school and you didn't inform us? What about my child's safety?"
They were talking about Danny. They were talking about her sweet, creative little student who wanted nothing more than to make friends and learn about the world.
"Danny's just imaginative!" Ms. Anderson defended quickly. "He doesn't mean these things, it's just a game he plays sometimes."
Another man in a clean suit voiced, "Oh, it is certainly not a game." He angrily pointed his hand at the head teacher. "The apple doesn't fall far from the crazy tree, does it? And you allowed a child such as this to enter our esteemed school?"
Ms. Anderson was lost, but the head teacher turned very pale. "The Fentons are under the protection of the government due to their profession–"
The man slammed his fast on the wall. "They hunt ghosts!" he shouted. "For God's sake, the parents have poisoned his mind so much that their child now believes in such nonsense!"
"He has invisible 'friends' that talk to him," a woman hissed, holding up a drawing of a green and grey being with seven arms, huge, shrunken eyes, and a smile. "He drew a picture for my Tavasha of this monstrosity and now my angel is talking to the bloody walls and pretending they can talk back!"
"They're Danny's friends!" Ms. Anderson cried, angry. "Don't you dare make fun of them."
The office was silent and only the sniffles of one of the mothers echoed in the room. Ms. Anderson knew she had messed up big time when the head teacher dug her nails into her desk.
"You knew about this?" she asked, teeth clenched and voice rising. "These friends, the ghosts, the monsters?"
"Little kids have big imaginations. There is absolutely no harm in–"
The head teacher cut her off as she uttered the worst sentence Ms. Anderson had ever heard in her life. "As of today, you are officially removed from the care of classroom S and transferred to classroom B."
Ms. Anderson froze, choking on her words for a moment. She thought of sweet Danny being forced to write English, being yelled at for not thinking like the other kids, being pushed away by the adults whenever he talked about being someone else or knowing things heshouldn't know. "Please don't do this," she begged.
The head teacher honestly looked as though this pained her to do. In front of all these parents who would not be satisfied until something was done, she said, "I apologize, but a new assistant will be brought in to handle Daniel Fenton. This will be taken care of now."
Her chest hurt so much and she could feel her eyes burning at the unfairness of it all. She wanted to argue that Danny didn't need to be handled, that he was more special than they would ever get to know; she wanted to tell the stuck-up parents that their kids wouldn't even be alive if it weren't for Danny, that he had saved all of their lives and never even told anyone about it–
She left the office before she could make a scene, feeling as though the chains around her had added an extra weight that she could only drag behind her as she walked away.
During Danny's first year of Pre-K, a man showed up.
He said he was here to survey the landscape for a remolded playground. He had all the credentials and paperwork so the others never suspected a thing.
But Danny didn't like him, and that immediately told Ms. Anderson something was wrong.
The more she noticed Danny's agitation towards the new man during the week he came to observe, the more she noticed that the man didn't seem to be looking at the grounds as often as he looked at the kids. The man often mumbled under his breath as well, and Danny told Ms. Anderson that Kitty told him the man was "counting."
Counting what was the ultimate question, and something she knew she wouldn't like the answer to.
On the final day of his inspection period, Danny suddenly grabbed her hand during recess. "Tick," he told her, eyes wide and focused on the man. "Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick."
The man had a bomb strapped to himself in the center of the playground and Danny was the only one who heard it. Ms. Anderson didn't even question how he knew, she reached for her phone and called the police.
They showed up in seconds and the kids were evacuated quickly. The man had put the bomb on a five-minute timer to unsure he could appear less suspicious and mingle amongst the most kids before it went off, so he was unarmed and unable to threaten to set the bomb off early.
She never told the police she was the one who called them and she never told the other teachers Danny was the one who saved them.
As the man was dragged away, all she did was hug the child to herself and hold him tight, wishing more than anything that she would be able to protect him always.
The world doesn't work like that, however, and soon Danny would have to learn on his own that being different was less important to the world than fitting in.
A/N: Poor Ms. Anderson. I liked her. She might show up again in future chapters, but I need to keep this story moving. Danny had protection for two full years, but now he'll have to face the unknown world of human beings without a barrier.
Drawings of young Danny, Kitty, Johnny, Seven, Jazz, and even the Trio in the future are on my Deviantart and Tumblr.