Interlude

Before we move on to the next 18 years, I want to tell you about Mrs. Beattie.  She was an English teacher in high school, and out of the few strange things I have taken as path markers in my life, is an essay I did for her class.  

She was normally very liberal with the use of red pens, perhaps filled with the blood of crushed students before me; however, this particular paper though now slightly yellowed is unmarked, except for the grade (A) and a single comment:  “you are too young to be this bitter.”

I stopped after the class and brought the paper to her desk.  “I have a problem with this.”

She looked at me sternly; she excelled at stern.  “I gave you an ‘A’.  The paper was well-written.”

“The comment.  You’re wrong.”

She laughed.  “Well, you are far too young to be so bitter and…”

She stopped as I looked her straight in the eyes, and let everything that lay hidden beneath the bedskirt of life look out.

In the moment of rising from her chair: she sits down heavily dropping pen and papers to her desk; one hand flying to her mouth were the laughter is gone, replaced by horror; the other hand starting to reach out towards me but stopping.

Then I blinked, put the happy face back on and take a step back.  Once more I softly said,”You’re wrong.”  And then I left.

Her quiet sob gains response by another teacher in the hall, but I still hear part of their faint conversation.  “Oh my God, Judy, that poor child!”

I remember being jealous that she could get comfort, and I just had to go home.

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