I plan on teaching my students to write memoirs. I try to do everything I assign my students. I wrote a memoir, it’s a bit rough, let me know what you think.
I knew she was going to call on me. I knew because everyone told me she was going to. They knew because yesterday when I was absent she had called on me to read the posuk. When she realized I wasn’t there, she had said she would call on me the next day.
I sat there in my seat; it was the second to last seat in the last row closest to the windows. I was holding my breath with a sick queasy feeling in my stomach; I sat there, and waited for her to call my name. The air-conditioner protruded slightly into my desk space. I tried to focus on the knobs and switches, but I knew she was going to call on me; everything just blurred.
I didn’t get along with her. I had a big mouth, and she, a turned up nose. She didn’t have the best complexion, so she tried to cover it up with make-up. She would put on too much foundation, and wouldn’t blend it in properly. I would snigger and point at the dark unnatural patches along her jaw line. I don’t think she liked that. She was a permanent substitute. Miss Weiss got married and moved to Israel, and we got stuck with her, Miss Fried.
I was never good at reading Hebrew. I was never good at memorization. So when it came to memorizing the translation of the Chumish in Yiddish (another language foreign to me) I was a lost case. She knew that, so she’d threaten me with it. If I wasn’t good she’d threaten to make me read a posuk. Today she wasn’t just threatening; today it was happening. I’d be made a fool of in front of my entire class.
In truth, I wasn’t really scared of my class, but more of myself. I knew I didn’t know the material, but the teacher couldn’t be sure of that unless she tested me. I wouldn’t be proven stupid to myself until she tested me. Once I couldn’t answer her demands I’d know I was stupid, it would be confirmed. There were no more maybes, no more pretending once she called on me. I’d be stupid, and that’s what I was afraid of.
None of my classmates thought of me as stupid. I was tops in English studies. They didn’t know how scared I was. They couldn’t feel the bile rising in my throat. I was cool. I acted like I didn’t care. The problem was, I cared too much, and this was the only way to defend myself. I tried to pull myself together. Tried to focus on the open Chumish in front of me, but she was going to call on me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
My body contracted instantly. Like it was trying to shrink and hide, make me disappear. I looked up at her, and in opposition to everything I felt, I responded very cockily.
“Yes.” I answered, more as a statement than a question. She matched my gaze and said,
“Read posuk zayin for us, please.”
She called on me, just like they said she would. Just like I knew she would eventually. She knew what she was doing to me. She knew, and enjoyed it.
I never forgave her.