30 Oxymorons

When our teacher turned up missing one day, the only student teacher the school could find to fill in was Miss Hilo, a bittersweet young woman with a sad smile and an obvious absent presence; she had recently lost her husband, and was in ill health, but she was the only choice. Now then, when she walked into our classroom, she was greeted by a deafening silence.

The larger half of the class thought she was pretty ugly, with her plastic glasses, too tight slacks, and a dull shine in her eyes–to them, she was seriously funny, a tragic comedy, in fact. But to me, she seemed awfully nice, a woman of sweet sorrow, perhaps. She was trying so hard to act naturally, but she was clearly confused.

I invited her to have lunch with me. We ordered (genuine imitation) jumbo shrimp, but it was so dry from apparent freezer burns, we had to wash down every bite with a big sip of soda. I wondered if I could fall for her; it was a definite maybe.

When we came back to class alone together, a loud whisper broke out across the room, and I broke out in a cold sweat. What a fine mess!

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