What If...

‘You obviously weren’t listening were you.’

With reddened face and trembling fingers Stan recovered his story book as it slapped on the desk with the sharpness of Miss Stark’s sneer.

Some pupils looked then turned from his humiliation. The usual crowd nudged each other, smirked as he heard them whisper,

‘Look, he’s going to cry’.

He caught her smirking with them and bit down on his lip as his cheeks tingled and the lump in his throat grew harder and harder.  Staring at the blackboard he willed the episode to pass, whilst she praised her favourites. The rest of the class, the unnoticed, ignored ones, were lost in daydream, unaware.

Opening his exercise book, at the tap of her instruction, there beside the next empty page was the scratchy and bold, red, cross, screeching up at him ‘wrong’; again.

Miss Stark caught him looking at it, he slowly raised his wobbling chin,

‘You weren’t listening again were you? I asked you to write about a place in the future, you obviously went back in time with that story.  Do as you’re told today, listen to what I ask’.

He accepted this; then.  He’d got it wrong; again.

He enjoyed writing with other teachers, they made him feel like he’d got it right.  Sometimes, just writing made him feel like he got things right, it was his favourite thing to do. But, her words always overtook this, her words shattered his confidence, eliminated self belief.

Long cast aside and hidden with similar memories, thoughts of Miss Stark’s chastisement came back into his head, many years later, quite randomly and he couldn’t shift them.  They stopped him in his stride, yet jolted him into enlightenment.

What if he’d been right and she’d been wrong?  Who was she to say the future wouldn’t be more simplistic and we’d be living simply, gathering on rocks, sitting around a fire, valuing a tribal lifestyle? What made her believe that those writing about robots and rockets were right?

She was a grown-up, he was a kid.  Didn’t she know the future’s uncertain?  Didn’t she know writing could be creative and imaginations differ?  As do perceptions of the truth.

Thinking about it all, years later, if he were asked to write a story now about how life would be in the future he’d hope it would take us to a place somewhere between the ...

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Janette Ostle
Jun 17 2020

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I loved this story; it resonates quite loudly

Jennifer Lucas
Aug 30 2020

A great story, with some really important lessons about feedback.

Rod Webb
Jul 8 2020

Lovely. Such an inspiring piece of writing.

Tracy Windross
Jun 28 2020

Very powerful - absolutely love it!

Paul Sterlini
Jun 22 2020

I enjoyed this very much, it was bice to the teacher getting her comeuppance.

Tony Spencer
Jun 20 2020

Wow! So beautifully written!

Lily Larkin
Jun 19 2020