Survive The Jungle

Entry by: EmmaCLP

13th May 2016
Survive the Jungle

The fight exploded without warning.
One moment she’d had her back to them all, the next a tumultuous melee had broken out behind her. At the sound of the explosion she stopped writing, briefly admired the Shakespearean quote she'd chosen to illustrate her last point and turned to face the onslaught. Textbooks, pencil cases, calculators were flying from one side of the classroom to the other, the unlikely ammunition hurled by a crowd of furious teenagers, all pumped up with adolescent hormones and petty resentments.
An arch-lever file smashed against the wall, ripping a poster of Benedict Cumberbatch in two. A boy took off his trainers and threw them at a cardboard model of the Globe Theatre. Another removed his blazer, placed it over his head and cowered beneath it, his frightened eyes peeping out.
For a second she almost laughed out loud at the spectacle. Five minutes earlier her year 10 class had been pouring over their battered copies of A Midsummer Night's Dream. There had been no hint of impending trouble. Well. she'd spotted Daisy Baldwin, a sophisticated fifteen-year-old wearing heavy foundation and multiple ear piercings, sending a text under her desk, but Daisy’s transgression was nothing out of the ordinary and against her better instincts she'd chosen to ignore it.
As the once tranquil classroom descended into hell she desperately tried to recall her training. She’d definitely been to lectures where the tutors had talked about incidents like this and how to cope with them. She was used to low-level disruption – it was part of the job these days – but all-out anarchy was different. This wasn't supposed to be part of the deal. What was she supposed to do? There was no point leaving the room and going in search of help. She’d never live it down. The other teachers would assume, and they'd probably be right, that she wasn’t capable of controlling her own class. The teenagers would play merry hell with her for the rest of the year. As for their parents, their reaction didn’t bear thinking about. She'd already been threatened by Daisy Baldwin's dad for giving her low marks for her Hamlet presentation.
Standing stock still, the rising panic written across her face, she lifted her arm momentarily and let it fall again. A mushy-looking banana, plucked from someone’s lunch box, sailed through the air and brushed the side of her face. The girl responsible – usually one of the more studious members of the class – laughed at her teacher’s shocked expression, then thought better of it and mouthed an unconvincing “sorry Miss” in her direction.
To her dismay, the feeble apology brought tears to her eyes. She’d thought that these pupils were on her side. She’d thought they appreciated her youth and lack of experience and would cut her a bit of slack. Not play up, not canoodle in the back row, not gossip amongst themselves while she did her best to explain why on earth Puck should want to transform Bottom’s head into that of an ass.
The teenagers didn’t even notice her distress. Within the space of a few heartbeats her classroom had turned into a jungle. The group of twenty-five or more youngsters were marauding around the room like a pride of lions, circling their prey and keeping watch for outsiders. They were hunting like a pack, she thought. A pack of animals with no regard whatsoever for anyone – apart from themselves and their next victim. They even looked alike – the girls with their ramrod straight hair and hitched up skirts and the boys with their strange buzz cuts and trousers clinging to their hips. No wonder they’d regarded her as an outsider. She was only a decade older than them but as far as they were concerned she might as well have appeared from Outer Space – an earnest do-gooder desperate to teach them the finer points of A Midsummer Night's Dream when all they wanted to do was catch up on the latest episode of I’m a Celebrity.
“How do I survive this? How do I survive this concrete jungle?”
The words hammered through her head as the objects continued to fly.
In despair she hurried towards the door, desperate to think of a way out.
As a cheap, plastic chair narrowly missed her she was overcome with the desire to open the door and run. Run for her life. Run away from this terrible place and never return. Run away and get a job in an office, where life was quiet and undemanding and deathly dull.
The handle of the door turned in slow motion and her heart beat even faster.
“What the hell is going on in here?”
The man’s roar was even more terrifying than the pack's.
She swallowed with relief and shame. Relief that the head had come to rescue her – and shame that she needed to be rescued.
“What the hell is going on in here?” he yelled again.
And suddenly the terrible truth dawned. He wasn’t yelling at the marauding teens, who’d all fallen silent at his approach. He was yelling at her.