Fear And Failure

December 12, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

I have been having a lot of nightmares again. They are different than before . I wake up feeling like I have been running for miles. The sheets are damp with sweat and twisted in knots from my tossing. But, none of that is what really bothers me; it is that they are about me which is truly frightening.

In the past, my nightmares have been about friends, acquaintances, or friends yet to be, but these are only about me. I am the their center and in the past the center has always been the wrong place to be. My concentration is wrecked.

After Sylvia’s letter, I had hoped to hear from father. I thought perhaps he would tell me I needed to stay at school because we could not afford for me to travel home, but I did not expect silence. I would not worry except the nightmares are foreboding and I fear something terrible has happened or is about to happen.

Somehow in the midst of all this I have to pull myself together long enough to finish out the semester and pass my exams. The professors do not make it easy, but if it was easy, everyone would be here. Mr. Bard is quickly shaping up to be the worst of my daylight problems. If I thought it possible, I would say he was trying to compete with the terror of my nightmares.

His first examination question was subjective at best. Perhaps his pets know beyond doubt whom he rates as the ten most influential men in history, but as for myself, the only person I certain is on the list is Mr. Bard. The egotistical bastard no doubt thinks he is the number one most influential man in history for the simple fact he teaches it. On a better day, I might even argue that point.

The second question was only slightly better for it requested actual facts. Its flaw was only in that it required a successful answering of the first question. The years in which those influential men were born is no doubt easy to obtain should you know their identities. I took a guess at Mr. Bard’s date of birth, sometime around the birth of Christ.

The third question was simply offensive and I refused to answer it. How dare he request I feed him back his bog filled rhetoric on the reasons why a woman’s vote is without merit. I considered a long winded exposition on the exact opposite, but fortunately a small amount of common sense intervened and I wrote the simplest response which I hoped would satisfy both him and me.

“Because men say so.”

I have little doubt he will fundamentally agree with my statement and at the same time miss the reason why I also believe the statement to be true. Is it called irony or just stupidity when a teacher fails to meet the standards of his students? Either way, Mr. Bard is quickly becoming my worst nightmare. I hope there is at least one question on the exam which actually required studying history, otherwise I fear I will fail utterly and completely.

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