The Problem

a short story by R.R. Noall

There’s a Boy & Girls club between the school and East 55th.
A haven in the midst of chaos.
Truly, it is for boys like Johnny and Amir. For girls like Ayliah and
Kaylyn.
“Ms. Rachel, where do you live?”

I flashback to the suburbia I grew up in. There’s a completely different world only 20 minutes away. Close your eyes, and imagine the perfect snow-globe town. That’s where I live.

For so long, I was ignorant. I was a part of the problem. Me,

wearing a school uniform, driving a $30,000-dollar new car, excited to have my pick of elite universities.

“About 20 minutes from here,” I say, every time.
From the outside, this school is failing. Inside though, there
are hundreds of students who want to learn. For many reasons

though, they haven’t been given the resources, high-quality educators, or the opportunity to show their passions.

Amir often interrupts the class in the middle of social studies
lessons with his dance moves. This doesn’t make him a failing

student. He does this because at school he can dance and actually laugh. At home, there’s no playing because he’s the man of the house and has responsibilities.

I can’t help smiling as I ask him to sit down. He’s a good kid.

Kaylyn and I work on close reading in the library. Between passages, she asks me questions and tells me about her love of fashion. This exchange helps us to get through difficult classwork.

“Where have you been before?”
I smile, stand up, and walk to each state I’ve visited. Her eyes
widen, and I say “I hope someday, you get to visit them too.”
She shakes her head, “I don’t know, maybe. I would worry
about my mom and sisters too much.”
“I always miss my family when I go, but exploring can be fun
sometimes. One day, I hope to move here.” I point to Colorado.
“That’s so far!” Kaylyn says.
We refocus and finish the chapter. I send her back to class.
Two years later, I’ve left it all behind once again. Again, I’m a
part of the problem.
I packed up my privileged life and moved to Colorado. While
I’m ecstatic to pursue my dream of becoming a writer, I know
it’s a luxury. The following of dreams – something my former
students may never get to do.
It’s funny how it’s so easy to forget. To create a world around

you that makes you feel like you’re doing something productive, meaningful.

That reality is easily shattered by an email.
It’s Kaylyn. “How is Colorado? I’m taking fashion classes at
Cleveland School of the Arts. When will I see you again?”

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