He sat at the desk in front of his classroom, his undershirt drenched with sweat to the point that the puddles in his armpits began to seep bitter, disgusting odors. Mr. Middleton prayed that they couldn’t smell it. The last thing he needed was to give the students fodder, they came up with plenty of that on their own.
It is against the law for a teacher to leave any classroom unattended when there is a class in session. Even for a second, or the minimal sixty seconds that Mr. Middleton needed. Just sixty seconds to run down the hall and back.
But he wasn’t allowed to, at least not now, not until 11:45, not until the kids were off to lunch.
He did everything to fight looking at the clock, it seemed time passed faster the less he checked the clock. He just kept his gaze locked onto the students. He was doing everything he could to suppress the twinging and hemorrhaging pain that was the water-balloon in his crotch.
He would now look around his classroom, desperately trying to get his mind on something else. He’d look at his students as they gently conversed about the textbooks in front of them. He would look at the posters and projects that he had decorated his room with over the years. He would look everywhere, except at that damn clock.
But every once in a while, without helping it, he would in fact glance up at that damn clock.
“Christ,” shrugged Mr. Middleton under his breath, careful to make sure none of the students heard. “Seven whole fucking minutes,” he now thought to himself. “Seven!”
Mr. Middleton was biting his inside lip he was so tense. It was times like this he wished he could swear in front of his students, it would really relieve some of the tension in these kinds of situations.
He hadn’t realized it but he was staring at the clock again, making each turn of the outdated clock’s hands feel like days upon days themselves.
The sweating doubled, the swelling in his groin felt like a latex glove, full of air waiting to burst. He began to grit his teeth while he watched the hand finally lop forward that all too important centimeter.
11:39, 6 minutes until lunch.
When he realized he was staring at the clock again, he immediately went back to shifting his gaze about trying to find some magical way to make the time pass faster, or just make the damn swelling go away. He crossed his legs, he shifted the weight in his chair, from his tailbone, to his left butt cheek, to his right, then back to his tail bone.
Some of the students were already packing up and ready for class to be over. They had noticed the constant shifting and discomfort in the face of their English teacher. Some began to laugh and giggle and whisper to each other as if Mr. Middleton couldn’t hear. He could hear them but he didn’t care. He was too focused on his ballooning bladder, and the sweaty Van Hausen shirt now sticking to his back.
The hand lopped forward again.
11:40. Five minutes.
The students were mostly packed and ready to go now. Usually Mr. Middleton let them pack up for the last five minutes anyway. It’s almost impossible to keep an entire class on topic for the entire period, so he would give the students this time if, and only if, they had worked the whole period.
They were fairly off task today but he didn’t care, he was too focussed on the forced Keegals he was doing from his chair. His focus shifted around the class again.
The anticipation within him was growing, he didn’t know if it was the second cup of coffee he had today, the fact he was drinking lemon water in the mornings now, but something was forcing every ounce of liquid from his body into his groin.
He started fidgeting about even more now. He hadn’t realized it but his face was beginning to squint in a way that reminded the students of the hawk-eyed man in the Poe story they had just read.
Mr. Middleton was using practically every muscle in his body to focus his energy on squeezing his groin in. He could no longer shift. He would now sit with all muscles clenched, just waiting for that transcendent moment of his bladder’s relief.
With his body locked, soon so was his gaze. It had fallen upon the sign just above the door, the sign that was in every classroom. “Maximum Occupancy 56 People.” Fifty-six people were supposed to fit in this classroom that was already full with 31 kids plus the desks.
For some reason it was those words on the sign, “Maximum Occupancy” that ran in circles in his mind for what seemed like minutes. Soon they made him think of the words, “Full Capacity.” Full capacity, that was where his bladder was. Occupied to its maximum, its fullest and most strained point. “Maximum occupancy, Full capacity.” The four words circling in his mind until it was reduced to just two.
It was as if he was having a lapse of his sanity, like these two words were the only thing existing in his mind anymore besides the fountain waiting to burst in between his legs. It was as if he thought this would be the magic mantra to make the need to go, go away.
“Full Jesus H Christ Mother Fucking Cock Sucking Capacity!”
Mr. Middleton suddenly snapped out of his momentary insanity when it was interrupted by the loud blaring and echo that was the school bell, and the halls that were filling with footsteps and students yelling over other students so the can hear each other talk.
He opened his once twitching eyes to see his students filing out of the room, the polite ones waving and saying goodbye to him.
He did not close the class with his usual deep bellow of, “Have a nice day!” He just nodded with a polite smile to anyone he made eye contact with.
As the last student left Mr. Middleton was out of his seat before the student could even close the door behind her. He pushed gently past the student in a rare moment of rudeness that briefly confused and offended the student. But Mr. Middleton was on too important of a mission to notice or care about anything except delivering the package that nature was calling on him for.
After leaping and pacing down the hall, moving around students like a running back making it across the field to the end zone, he burst through the staff room door pushing aside a coworker with the same rudeness he had the student. He did one last running back twirl and dodge around the formica staff room table, and he leapt into the staff men’s room, unintentionally slamming the door behind him.
Relief is too light of a word to express what Mr. Middleton felt at this very moment, this was a moment of justice to him. A moment to stand with pride, not to just sigh and move on. The instant the door was locked, the zipper had fallen down and after that what could only be described as torture was finished.
Mr. Middleton was delivered with the greatest sense of relief by the gods, a sense of relief and release that was more than necessary, that was just, and long overdue.