'It's not me, it's you.'
I whisper under my breath, over, and over, and over, as you prowl down one row, then another, getting closer, closer, closer.
'What did you say?' you snarl, hovering over me.
Oh God. Forgot she hears everything.
'Didn't say anything miss,' I mumble, my skin prickling.
Keeping my eyes down, I listen to the familiar thwack of the twelve inch wooden ruler hitting your open palm—my fingers straining to grip the pen as you like me to do it—the stinging sensation from the well-aimed smack weeks ago still fresh as the words ringing in my head.
‘Hold your pen properly. Don’t curl your thumb over. Thumb. Index. Middle finger. Stop squeezing. It won't run away.'
Wish I could run away. Wish you'd pick on someone else. Wish...
'I told you what I'd do next time, didn't I?'
Your triumphant shriek jostles me. Lifting my head—I see you bend—blouse sagging—sari flapping—a vulture descending on its prey—emerging with one of my black patent leather shoes in your hand.
'Told you I'd throw these outside if you remove them in the classroom,' you boom.
Stomping to the window, you dangle, then drop my new shoe into the dust outside.
Stupid me, thinking my grandmother starting to crochet items for you would make me important.
So right now, all I can do is wait.
Until, released by the clanging bell at the lesson end, I kangaroo hop towards the door, stopping on hearing your call.
'Can you ask your grandmother to make me some more doilies?' you ask.
'Oh, sorry. She doesn't crochet any more.'
Looking you in the eyes I shake my head the way I've been practising in the mirror, for weeks and weeks before.
Published in Issue #26