As soon as he saw Mrs. Mattson, Jacob turned and took another drink of water from the fountain. She had walked into the funeral home about twenty minutes earlier and in an attempt to avoid talking to her Jacob had left the viewing room and hid in the restroom, hoping she wouldn’t stay long. And there she was not more than ten feet away. Looking out the corner of his eye, he deflated when he saw her approach.
“Jacob, there you are!”
Jacob took a last sip of water. “Oh, hi, Mrs. Mattson,” he commented to the second year teacher.
“Jacob, it’s good to see you. We’ve missed you at school.” She smiled. “Are you doing ok?”
Jacob wanted to yell and swear. He was sick of the questions. “Are you ok? How are you holding up?” These people didn’t really care. It was all talk. Just talk.
“Yes I’m fine, Mrs. Jacob,” he answered politely.
“I’m happy to hear that.” She reached out to touch Jacob on the shoulder, paused and pulled her hand back. “Don’t worry about the work at school. You will catch up just fine. I can send some work home, if you like. Would that be ok for you?”
“It’s ok, Mrs. Mattson. I’ll be back at school tomorrow or next day. I don’t feel much like doing anything. So doubt I’ll get any of it done anyway.”
The door to the funeral home flew open and in came a blast of cold air, a flurry of snow flakes and Jacob’s mother, who was ninety minutes late to the viewing. At the sight, Jacob’s pale Finnish skin actually became one shade whiter. His mind raced, “Please, please, don’t come over here.” Jacob started to walk away, “Sorry, I got to go Mrs. Mattson,” but it was too late.
Jacob’s mother stomped over, loudly asked, “Jacob honey, how are you doing?” She stood next to Jacob, put her hand on his far shoulder and pulled him with a jolt into her side. Jacob’s body stiffened. “And who is this honey?”
Before Jacob could respond, Mrs. Mattson said, “I’m Alice Mattson, Jacob’s teacher.”
Jacob’s mother strongly shook Alice Mattson’s hand, “Oh, nice to meet you. I’m Jacob’s mother of course.” Sylvia Saari’s head and shoulders went back as she looked at the young petite teacher.
Mrs. Mattson quietly replied, “It’s nice to meet you too.” She looked at Jacob, “Jacob is a good student and I’m sure he’ll make up the work at school quite easily, so you don’t need to be worried about that.”
Sylvia smiled, “I wasn’t.”
“Oh ok. Well…um, nice to meet you. I’m terribly sorry about your loss. Well, I better get going.”
As soon as Mrs. Mattson left, Sylvia released Jacob. She looked at Jacob asked, “What you looking so sad for?” and walked into the viewing room.