Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Miss Mac - a short story

Miss Mac was my English and French teacher at high school.  She was the only teacher to ever give me any advice for my nervous disposition.  "Eat more Vegemite.  It's good for your nerves."  I guess that's what passed for counselling in the 1960s.

My commercial teacher, Miss O, brought me to task for my slovenly dress.  "It doesn't matter how poor you are, you can always look neat."  And the senior mistress said, if I were a boy, I would have been sent up to the office.  Can't remember why.  But I do remember that she believed in the hostility of nature.  "A piece of bread always falls jam-side down."

But mostly my teachers ignored me.

Oh, until the day Miss Mac had to take us for a maths lesson because the regular teacher was away.  She was cranky because she hated maths, so instead, she stood me up in front of the class and bawled me out.  "You are the most brilliant student ever to walk into a high school."  My thoughts were divided between "Yes, I know that" and "I'm not that clever".  She went on:  "You're wasting your time playing sport and running around the oval.  You should be writing poetry".  Then she became dramatic:  "You have written the final chapter of my life."

I didn't give her outburst much thought and went back to watching the second hands of the clock, imagining how many long strides I could run in five seconds.  This was how I spent most of my final two years at high school.  Not long afterwards, she ran away to England with my history teacher, but he later returned to his wife, and Miss Mac died.  I have been told recently that she committed suicide.

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