Flash fiction: Is it really over?

Welcome to the Spot Writers! The prompt for this month is “Is it really over?” It could refer to the pandemic, or the war in Ukraine, or anything else that lingers too long.

Is It Really Over?

By Val Muller

Tiana entered the classroom, strangely relaxed. Her teacher, Ms. Becket, sat at the desk, uncharacteristically not-busy.

“How was the test yesterday?” Ms. Becket asked.

Tiana shrugged. “Okay, I guess.” I should work more on my poetry analysis, she thought. Should have. Test is over.

“And the poetry?” Ms. Becket smiled a wink-smile. It was almost their private joke. Tiana was always the first to arrive, and her morning conversations with Ms. Becket usually revolved around poetry: Ms. Becket taught poetry, and Tiana complained about poetry. Tiana swore she would never like it, and like a patient Zen master, Ms. Becket taught poem after poem, her face and mannerisms confident that Tiana would come around. But now, the national exam was over, and in a week Tiana and her peers would be starting their capstone service projects. Poetry was over. What was Tiana supposed to say?

“Um.”

“Was it easier than in September?”

Now that she thought about it, Tiana had to admit, the poetry question had been the easiest one of the exam essays. Could she admit that?

“Um.”

“Was it a difficult one? A sonnet? Something from the Renaissance?”

Tiana shook her head. She was surprised to feel a smile on her face. “It was actually easy. It reminded me of that poem we read, the one about the fish.”

“Oh?” Ms. Becket was clearly suppressing a smile. “The fish one you hated? With the rainbow at the end?”

Tiana smiled. “Yeah, that one. I guess it wasn’t so bad.” Then she added, hastily, “But at least poetry’s over for the year. I mean, over forever. There’s no way I’m studying poetry in college.”

Ms. Becket bit her lip and nodded.

“I mean, it is over for the year, isn’t it?”

Ms. Becket shrugged. “Do you want it to be? We still have a week left of classes.”

“Most teachers are showing movies once exams are done.”

Ms. Becket opened her drawer to reveal a stack of DVDs, all movies of the works they had read throughout the year. “I can do that.”

Tiana nodded. Good.

Ms. Becket closed her drawer and opened a literature book. Funny, Ms. Becket was usually grading papers at this hour, or checking email. Tiana had never seen her reading. Not like this, not for pleasure. Her eyes passed over the words, and as they did, a smile formed on her lips. She chuckled softly. Then flipped the page.

Another student came in. Ms. Becket greeted him, and he dropped off his things and went back into the hallway.

“Ms. Becket?” Tiana asked, her own voice startling her.

Ms. Becket looked up.

“What’s your favorite poem?”

Ms. Becket smiled. “It’s funny. I was just reading it, actually. I was thinking about the year, wondering how it’s over already. I guess my pacing was off, with us coming off of the pandemic and having to re-adjust. I was just thinking about how we made it all the way to the exam, and I didn’t get to teach my favorite poem.”

“I wish you’d teach it today,” Tiana said, once again surprising herself.

“You think the students will be disappointed? Do you think they’re expecting a movie?”

Tiana shrugged. “At this point in the year, I think most are just making it through each day. Maybe some will be disappointed, but…” What was on the tip of her tongue? What was she trying to get out? Her mind could not articulate the amorphous thoughts. “It’s just…”

Ms. Becket sat, ever patient, her hand resting on the open literature book.

“I was thinking, after the test, about that rainbow fish poem. I realized why I liked it more than other poems. The message at the end, well, I feel like that could be me.”

Ms. Becket still sat.

“And I guess I was just thinking… that when you read a poem that someone else loves, you learn a lot about them. You understand them better. I guess I never thought about it until now. Probably it would have helped if I had thought this in September.”

“Such is life,” Ms. Becket said. “But there’s a reason for clichés, and ‘better late than never’ is one of my favorites.”

“So, class today. Will you teach us your favorite poem?” Tiana asked, smiling.

Ms. Becket smiled back. “I can do that.”

 

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.