He scrolled down the screen, stretched the cursor across the row, and paused.
He remembered a drunken night. He had been sat with Giedre, the girlfriend of a friend. Circling her with morbid curiosity, he had finally plucked up the courage to ask: “How do you cope?”
Now, sat hovering over the highlighted row in his spreadsheet, he couldn’t remember her answer; he could only remember the way she pulled the room’s darkness into her eyes. Then she breathed it back, darker and heavier than before.
She may have said nothing. That would, he now understood, have been the only sensible thing to say.
She worked in a hospice; a hospice for children. Short stories with too potent a poignancy, but read them she must – every single one.
For much of the last week, he had puzzled over head counts and scratched his head over class groupings that no longer slotted Tetris-like into his plans. Like a cat, he circled the space in his register with diminishing comprehension.
When, in the first circle time since it happened, the children asked him why, he answered their questions, but he didn’t really know why it had happened. All he could do was assure them that we’d all, in time, find a peaceful way to remember the one we lost. He’d never felt so much like just another child in his own classroom.
But even so, he paused over the undeleted row. Cell upon cell of carefully collated data: a slow crescendo of rising attainment now arrested. He deletes the row.
He clicks undo: this screen, the one place where he can play in an approximation of God’s dimensions. But redo, undo, redo: when he looks from his screen to that particular seat in the gathering darkness of his now empty classroom, the seat too remains empty.
Nothing never weighed so.