The urge to pop my head into the doorway and wish him a good evening rises. A friend would do that, surely? Ruthlessly, I quash the impulse. A meeting reminder floats to the front of my consciousness – did he remember to send it out to our committee? Gritting my teeth, I shove the thought aside. Temptation to break my stride swirls around my head.
The teacher on the other side of the hall steps out and gives me a cheery wave. I smile at her and wave back, not speaking as in the quiet hall, the sound of my voice would ring like a bell, announcing my presence. Bearing silent witness, she walks alongside me to the next classroom and steps in to confer with another colleague.
Nearing the exit, I fumble with my keys, preparing myself for the maze of the parking lot. When they slip through my fingers and crash to the floor, I swallow the curse that flies to my lips. Heart pounding, startled by the loud noise, I scoop the keys up and hasten my steps, hoping that they didn’t betray my whereabouts. Nervously, I find the right key and hold fast to it as my other hand closes over the door handle.
Passing through the heavy double doors, my shoulders droop, seemingly exhausted from holding the burden of my guilt. My steps slow as I reach my car, and my breath comes heavy as a marathon runner’s as I twist the key in the lock. Slumped in the driver’s seat, I heave a relieved sigh.
Safe, I think.