The Teachers’ Lounge: Stories
An original translation of new Hebrew fiction from Bernstein Prize-winner Dror Burstein, author of ‘Kin’
The Half-Teacher, was, like his name, half a teacher. A few years ago he entered the school elevator, the door closed on him when he was half in the elevator and half outside it. The door of the elevator cut him in two. One half of him went up in the elevator to the third floor and there he exited the elevator, called for help, and collapsed. The medical staff arrived at the building and found the second half of him, that remained outside the elevator, on the ground floor, and saved his life. But during those critical minutes the half that went up in the elevator lost consciousness—and died. The Half-Teacher would come into class and insist on sitting down with his face toward the window. From the side that faced us you might think he is a whole teacher. But we would disturb even him, as was our habit, and he would, despite his super-human efforts, eventually face the class with his missing eye, and scream, “I am half a teacher! I am half a teacher! You won’t listen to half a teacher either?” We would cover up one ear and scream at him, “Half-Teacher! We can’t hear you!” Or he would put on his hat, which dropped to the side a bit, and leave the classroom. Once he sat next to me on the bus. He didn’t recognize me. The station approached, I pressed the bell, I asked in a murmur to get off. But his missing ear was facing me, he didn’t hear my request. I sat back down in my seat. The bus continued on.
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