Miss Linda stands over me watching me through her beady eyes as I struggle with my modified cursive. Suddenly her big twelve inches is rapping on my hand. She refers to it as the Board of Education. We are terrified of the woman.
CONCENTRATE!!! CONCENTRATE!!! She bellows as if needing to awaken every demon in hell to her aid. She doesn’t need to by herself she is all the demon I ever want to know.
My head lowers over my page. My right hand holding my pencil struggles to shape the ‘a’ just how she likes it. My level of concentration is highlighted by my tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth as every fibre of me works towards Miss Linda’s version of perfection.
My hopes of pleasing her fade as she taps me on the head with the Board of Education. “Michael,’ she sneers at me. “What do you call that?”
“An ‘a’ Miss.”
“Looks nothing like an ‘a’. Are you an imbecile Michael?”
“Not sure Miss.”
“Why are you unsure?”
“Don’t know what it means Miss.”
“Class pay attention. I will now look in the English Oxford Dictionary and read you the meaning of the word imbecile.”
Everyone downs pencils and looks at Miss Linda.
“Imbecile, noun, anyone with the name Michael.”
The class gulps. I’m in the dictionary? There are looks of admiration around the class for me. I am for a moment a hero in their eyes. I sit up feeling pretty proud. My deflation is rapid as she describes the meaning to us. A half-wit, mentally impaired and list goes on. She finishes with a resounding wrap on my knuckles. The intense pain shoots up my arm, I burst into tears.
That’s her cue I discover to take me by the ear and lock me in to storeroom behind the classroom.
CONCENTRATE in here she screams at me……I’m left there all day. I hate school. I hate Miss Linda. I can write just fine.
Twenty years later I send her a copy of my first novel. She never replies. It was called “CONCENTRATE”.