THE WRITING TEACHER
The writing teacher ordinarily let Margaret finish her compositions undisturbed. Last
quarter, the girl completed an essay worthy of the Wall of Fame in the school’s front foyer. Still,
with the current quarter’s Progress Report due in a week and nothing turned in yet, she needed to
check on her student.
As the teacher approached Margaret’s desk--the most remote in the room—unlike the other
students busily writing, she found the girl looking at an opened algebra book.
“You probably think…,” the strained, discordant voice began. “You surely believe….You
cannot but assume….You necessarily gather….You certainly prophesy….”
“How’s your comp coming?” the teacher asked.
“I haven’t been able….I couldn’t begin….I must not have started….I hadn’t the
Margaret’s right hand, outstretched fingers pressed together tighter than a church choir,
shaded her face.
“Did you have a problem with the assignment? You could have asked for help.”
“We more than likely just…We have long-held faith that….We never
thought possible….We need to make allowances….”
“I’ll have to give you an F on your Progress Report,” the teacher reported, “if you have
nothing to show me.”
The girl folded her hands on her desk and slowly lowered her face onto them. “They will
more or less….They may now and then….They might one day or another….They would between
here and there….”
The teacher bent over. “You’re mumbling,” she enunciated clearly. “You have to answer for
your actions. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Margaret collapsed onto the floor, her arms and legs twitching, her torso writhing. “One
loses touch….One misses the boat….One drops the ball….One gets thrown for a loss….”
Dropping to both knees, the teacher tried to calm the girl’s desperate appendages.
“There, there, Margaret. You have been heard. I’ll go for help. We’ll get you going. They
perform miracles. One never knows.”
The girl’s body went limp. As though speaking to a wall, she mouthed, “Tell no one….Argue
less….Get your hands off….Manage the store….Let it go….”
Her eyes closed.
“Back to work, people,” the teacher directed. “Return to your compositions on ‘Why I Like
A team of paramedics collected Margaret with a minimum of fuss, distracting the writers
very little. It wasn’t until Russell, the boy in the opposite corner from where Margaret had sat, fell
out of his chair that the teacher’s concern began to grow.