A: It was to end childhood obesity… or end body dysmorphia. Something to do with bodies, I think. Or maybe it was Palestine. Wait I’m pretty sure it was Palestine because someone brought it up earlier that day in the classroom.
A: I mean the kids egged me on to do it.
A: Actually I remember Frankie Nguyen mentioning something about a typhoon fundraiser… some sort of school-wide challenge to raise the most money… the winner gets a pizza party. Or something.
A: No, I didn’t know there was no such thing as the “Hot Glue Gun Challenge.”
A: Those kids are incredible actors. Real thespians. Especially Sammy. Sammy said the other classes were doing it too.
A: I’ve never had any disciplinary issues with Sammy and had no reason to question his sincerity.
A: I’m not blaming Sammy but when someone has a hot glue gun in their backpack I assume that they know what they’re talking about.
A: It might seem strange to you but you have to remember there’s a generational divide between you, the kids, and myself. You grew up with Vietnam, I grew up with Desert Storm, and the kids grew up with fidget spinners and Tik-Tok.
A: Common sense? Was it common sense to bring in a substitute with no real lesson plan?
A: Oh, right. It was in the inbox.
A: Kids that age eat snot and gum off the floor. I don’t think they understood the repercussions of eating hot glue straight from the gun.
A: It’s not like I allowed any of them to do it. If they had, I would’ve said something. Definitely.
A: What does this have to do with what I left in the collator? Is there a rule that only full-time staff are allowed to use it?
A: I’ve never worked on my novel during school hours, and I only brought it to show the kids.
A: Yes it has academic merit.
A: I still can’t taste anything in my mouth.
A: About six, maybe seven minutes.
A: The pain subsided once my tongue went numb.
A: Sammy was keeping track. He had his phone.
A: I didn’t realize how many students had phones.
A: I’ve already contacted a service representative at Tik-Tok and requested it be taken down.
A: I haven’t had time to check.
A: Well I can’t be the only person who’s ever tried that.
A: Respect is a two-way street; it has to be earned both ways.
A: I’m telling you George I was working with what I had, okay? If the room was filled with basketballs then maybe I would’ve done the basketball challenge instead.
A: It’s not a real thing. Don’t bother looking it up.
A: I would never do that. Not in front of children.
A: In many ways it brought us closer together.
A: The fundraiser had nothing to do with my novel.
A: If anyone chose to donate the proceeds of the challenge to self-publishing my novel, then that was entirely their decision.
A: Janelle is a liar.
A: I’ve never seen that website in my life.
A: Basically they donated for every second I was swallowing hot glue from the gun.
A: In its hardened form it’s actually quite harmless.
A: I never expected the school to reimburse me for medical costs.
A: The healthcare options for part-time faculty are atrocious here.
A: I’m not going to grovel for my job.
A: I could work in any public school in this district.
A: This is just like Tiananmen Square.
A: No I wasn’t calling you a fascist, or a communist, or any -ist.
A: The kids will miss me.
A: I could monitor the playground during lunch.
A: You sit in a classroom for years thinking about what you’ll do differently, about what kind of role model you’ll be for generations to come. And then you get hit by blow-hards like you who despise creativity and innovation, so what was I to do? I would’ve crumbled under the glass ceiling of oppression unless I went against the grain. Bucked the system. Ate the glue gun. And let me tell you this: Those kids will remember me for the rest of their lives.
A: Hell yes I would do it again.
Sean Nishi is a Japanese-American writer from Los Angeles, CA. He has received praise in the past for attentive listening, skillful juggling, and wearing all black. His work has appeared in STORGY, Sierra Nevada Review, TIMBER, Poydras Review, and Ember Chasms.