One student, his wife more than a week overdue, shows up in the hallway, out of breath, stressed and reeking of cigarettes, with paperwork from the emergency room documenting his two-year-old's recent visit for a "possible head injury" from a fall down a flight of stairs.
Another writes of addicted parents, an abusive father, and years of her own subsequent dysfunction.
A third falls asleep in class for the third day in a row.
A fourth speaks of waking at 3:00 AM with a severe headache from a possible concussion in yesterday's football practice. He admits this has happened before.
A fifth wants to know what page we are on.
A sixth stares at me as if I spoke Greek and she, only Chinese.
A seventh, when questioned, finally blurts, "My best friend just shot himself in the head intentionally. He's dead." He abruptly turns, then walks out the door.
Next morning, there's a voice mail message from a student's father explaining his son has not been in class because he's been incarcerated. Before hanging up, he starts to cry.