In the hallway, outside the classroom, after the bell beginning third hour had rung, the students remained where they were, the door to their classroom locked. A third of the students were clustered in the middle of the hall, like the densely packed nucleus of an atom–neutrons and protons in tight formation, with no objective other than to maintain the integrity of their formation; another third had broken away–like electrons circling more widely, some crashed up against the lockers opposite the doorway and some drifting further down the hallway, happy to have been denied entrance to their third-hour class. The final third, however, were at the door, seemingly pulled in that direction. One, a boy named Ted, pressed his ear against the door.
“What do you hear,” a girl named Sally asked.
“I don’t hear anything,” Ted said.
“You must hear something,” Sally said. “I saw him closing the door when I was coming down the hallway, and that’s the only door to the classroom. He must be moving desks or setting up a camera or doing something that we’re supposed to wait for.”
“I don’t think he’s doing anything,” Ted said, pulling his head away from the door. “I think he’s just sitting in there.”
“Wouldn’t you lock the door if we were your next class?” a boy named Raft, leaning against a locker across the hallway, asked.
“There’s nothing wrong with our class,” Sally said, “and he should open the door and let us in.”
“I’m going to knock,” Ted said, and before Raft across the hall could object, Ted rapped his hand against the door three times. Everyone in the hallway fell quiet and listened. There still was no sound from inside the classroom.
“I have his phone number?” Raft said, detaching himself from the lockers and walking the few feet to the door.
“What?” Sally asked.
“I have his cell phone number. He gave it to my father once when they were having a conference on the phone about how I only show up to class once a week. They talked for a half hour, and Iverson told my father he could call him anytime. I saw where my father wrote the number down on a note pad and I copied it.”
“Why would you write his number down?”
“I don’t know. I just did.”
“I’ll call him,” Ted said, “give me the number,” as he took out his phone.
“I don’t think you can call a teacher on his cell phone,” one of the other students clustered near the door said. “I think they suspend you for that.”
“Tell Iverson you’re my dad,” Raft said.
“Tell him we’re worried about him,” Sally said.
“Tell him we’ve all got our homework done,” said a boy who’d been writing in his notebook since the bell had rung.
“I’ll tell him to open the door,” Ted said as he punched into his phone the numbers displayed on the screen that Raft was holding up to him.
The connection went through and Ted’s phone began to ring.