the students

i understand why some passengers didn’t board the public / tour bus in the night.
when I got on, i could see traces of small, undigested white meat on the stairs. i went upstairs. children in uniform did not appear sick, but they had been vomiting. their shirts were soured, but they still carried their schoolbags, chittering past me like small creatures. i did not smell bile or disease, but the floor was a mess. froth and foam and clear liquid everywhere. an older generation of men sat at the back unmoving. the children continued chittering.
i couldn’t tell if the bus was lurching or at a standstill. i could not see the face of the driver. either the orange glow of the streetlights outside made the children better, or it was the cause of the outbreak. perhaps, the worst is over and I had come to survey the remains, riding with them to the end of the line.
“we have to make do with this small blackboard” i tell the students. night had transferred to a classroom. the students here are older, out of uniform. plain clothed disciples of another order. possibly the same sick ones from the that time (seconds or years ago) “at least it’s not a chalkboard, less toxins for the lungs…’ there are finely drawn, realistic portraits on the board. with a crumpled tissue, i erase them with some effort. I will find that later, using the dishcloth, it will be easier to erase some of the faces, though not all.
how many children survived that night on the bus? am i removing their futures now from the board? or am i merely erasing those who had survived and are no longer relevant?
the much older students in the class are busy chittering, and did not offer any help with my line of thinking. I am close to erasing all of the faces. i reposition the board and am ready to begin class.

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