Two decades later she had her very own real students at the little red schoolhouse. She liked arriving early when it was still quiet. A little before 9:00 am she would hear her students galloping up the hill, their footsteps along the wooden floors as they hung their jackets on hooks and then the soft bang as they laid out their books in readiness on top of their desks. She was eager. The students were eager. And they dove in to the lesson traveling through history and literature and philosophy, investigating the wonders of the human body and the solar system.
As the years went on, the red paint of the schoolhouse faded and it was repainted white. The students stopped galloping and they trudged heavily. Most students no longer hung their jackets for they were too cold. Students switched on their laptops for books had become archaic.
The little schoolhouse teacher still brushed her skirt with her hands before she began. It was a habit from the old days of brushing off chalky residue. Chalkboards had been replaced by whiteboards and then computerboards. But she still brushed. She did what she always did next: dove in with eagerness. But the students did not dive in with her. Instead, the light from their screens cast an eerie glow over their faces. The teacher asked a question from their reading, but received no answer. She asked how the students were doing outside of school. Still, no answer. She asked what they were interested in. Again, silence. She asked if they would like to go on a field trip to explore the world around them. They stared ahead like zombies. Then, she saw a small movement: one student’s eyeball glanced at the digital time in the upper corner of his screen and the eyeball returned to center screen.
What were they staring at? She wondered if they could see her at all. She began to walk in front of her computerboard back and forth. But not one eyeball followed her. She kicked her leg up to her head. Nothing. She stamped her foot on the floor. Still nothing. She began to tap dance. Nothing. She got on her knees. Nothing. She got up on her desk and jumped off. Nothing. At last she threw herself down on the floor, looked up to the schoolhouse ceiling and let out the loudest scream she had ever screamed in her whole life.
“Oh God! Did that feel good!” she thought. She began to laugh in relief. She laughed and laughed and then laughed some more. She laughed so hard her stomach hurt and tears poured down her cheeks. And when her laughter had finally finished, she stood up.
The little white schoolhouse was empty. There was an envelope with her name on it on top of her desk. She opened it and read:
“Thank you for your years of service to teaching at the little white schoolhouse on the hill. We will be installing a robot teacher to increase efficiency in the dispensing of information. Your services are no longer required.”
The teacher packed up her books and gathered her pencils together. With her heavy teacher bag slung over one shoulder, she awkwardly walked down the hill. Weighed down by her bag, she stumbled a little. She giggled. Efficiency. She giggled again. Dispensing information. She snorted. And then she laughed at her own snorting. She laughed and laughed walking onward to where, she did not know.