Other years, in some other times, I've heard a snap. She has a handbag, and the closure clicks. She has some glasses that she keeps at the ready, and they're in a case that makes a sudden, sharp thwack when she closes it. Or, the door closes with a particular click. Usually there's something. Some little sound, done in just her way, and we know the autumn is about to begin this year's course. It's almost time.
Usually, she gets into our room ahead of the scheduled season, and she makes herself comfortable and waits for the heat of the summer to subside. She doesn't interrupt the heyday. She has composure, this woman. Dignity. Calm. She knows how to wait in readiness.
But this year? This year I've been listening just like I always do. I'm the student at one of the corners, with a view of the room, and probably not in a conversation. People don't talk to me when I'm waiting. Not usually, anyway. Sometimes I say something engaging. Inviting. It's okay. You can talk to me. I sympathize with your nervousness or your lethargy. (Only I don't -- not with lethargy.) Anyway, I'm already here when she comes in. I love that moment, when the small sound happens and a flash of electricity goes through the room and gets forgotten in the next moment. I love the anticipation of the beginning of another term. I hold my breath. I wait. Autumn signals her arrival sometime near the end of August - or even earlier - and I love the delicious intake of breath when I hear her.
But not this year. The heat has come back on for the next little while, and all my wooly clothes are too warm to wear in full sun, and my sweaters and I must wait a little longer ... but ... wait a tick. Is that her? There's a teacher sitting down, right in the middle of the room, in an ordinary place, just like everyone else. She's ready to start. But I did not hear her come in.
This could be a very interesting year.