The door slid shut and Grace wanted to collapse in her chair. Thursdays, she thinks to herself. Her hardest day of the week. The kids are antsy for the weekend and she's jammed with yard duty.
She grabs her flask, which is still warm to the touch.
With her Keepcup, she ventures out.
The inner lives of the students suddenly become visible as they cluster in social groups. Those destined to become lawyers sit on benches, eating their lunches in silence.
The older kids mix the genders, a pre-emptive strike for the oncoming tidal wave of puberty. Grace feels the lull in her own life. She and Peter are that dried-up lake that once was the ocean floor, while Matilda is riding that wave. Rory, who is somewhere in the yard, is just feeling the tug of movement. He's only ten, but she can feel the changes occurring in him.
Suddenly she sees students sweep across the yard like debris. It can only mean a fight. She rushes over, picking her way through.
At first, it made little sense. Jayden, a Grade 6 student no bigger than a Prep student, was beating, with clenched fists, Marcus, also Grade 6, but already five feet tall. Her first thought was how?
She yanked him off. He was so light; it was as if his rage had consumed him.
Jayden, undeterred, rushed headlong into the stumbling Marcus. The clash bent Marcus's nose and deep red blood gushed forth.
At the moment it took her to realise the damage being done to Marcus, a swarm of teachers come to her aid.
Kids scatter, leaving her alone with the remnants of bloodied bitumen.