Charcoal

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Drawing by Laurie

Mr. A. Rachloc (Alistair to his friends) was an art teacher at a school in Moesk – a small village in England. He was a brilliant and inspiring teacher who brought out the best in his pupils. Mr. Rachloc did a lot of his artwork with charcoal and in his free time he created many wonders. He was so into his art he breathed it.

The kids at school acknowledged that their teacher was eccentric and his spark and rigour really rubbed off on them. All the kids respected him and they had a name for him. They called him Sir Scratch-a-lot, because he was always scratching away with his charcoal on paper.

Recently though, some kids and teachers had noticed a change in him. It seemed his features were getting darker, his eyes blacker and he seemed less of a presence when he was around you.

At home, after a tiring day at school Mr. Rachloc was taking a break from his drawings. He was smoking. He wasn’t smoking cigarettes though he was smoking charcoal. He was looking at himself in the mirror, his mind on fire with ideas. He had been smoking charcoal for a ling time and was addicted to it.

More and more people at school noticed that Mr.Rachloc wasn’t quite himself, didn’t quite have the same gusto as usual and he himself accepted he had a problem. He knew that smoking charcoal was making him unwell despite helping him create great things. As he looked into the mirror, like every night, he saw he was thinner and it was as if he was beginning to waste away. He had been to the doctor after school without much luck. The doctor had said his obsession was beginning to possess him and was turning him into charcoal.

Mr. Rachloc’s condition worsened and there was much sadness and silence at school when the pupils were told that their teacher was too ill to come in. He remained at home, he was still smoking though, his features were carbon black and he could hardly move. He did however, look like a work of art – a beautiful charcoal painting and in his eyes, ideas and beauty flickered. In his last moments, very weak, he leant against the bedroom wall and disappeared into it – leaving a charcoal print of himself and a collection of black dust on the floor.

There was a minutes silence across the school the next week for the teacher and an exhibition of his work – his abundance of charcoal drawings that were both wonderful and inspiring. The headmaster announced it was a sad time for the school, saying that Mr. Alistair Rachloc had showed us both the beauty and horror of obsession and that it should be a lesson to us all. One of the images that Mr. Rachloc had drawn – a self portrait (see picture above) – was put up in the art room to remind students of the story of Mr. Rachloc forever more.