Where Is It Written?

December 4, 1896
Margaret Spooner

Would anyone have expected William Shakespeare to stitch straight? I do not believe so. So, why is it I am expected to write with perfect penmanship? Only God and Mr. Stark can answer that questions and neither of them are talking. Well, Mr. Stark does talk but he rarely actually says anything.

He always stares with his beady eyes and crinkled nose. Maybe he does not like me or maybe he thinks it is below him to teach women. Whatever his problem is, he is bent on making life miserable for me. If it were not for the college’s mandate to attend four years of English lessons I would not ever have set foot in his classroom.

“Is this an R, an S, or an N?” He asked.

His crooked finger pointed at the page on my desk and his smelly hand blocked the view of the rest of the word. Without context how was I to answer his question?

“I don’t know.” I replied.

“Pardon me?” He said.

I rolled my eyes at his irritating pretense to not understand contractions. On the very first day of class he had made his feeling quite clear on the use of the contractions and their recent rise in popularity amongst even the best families in the nation.

“I cannot say while your hand is blocking the word.” I said.

“Miss Spooner it is not relevant what the word is or is not, the letter, each and every letter, must be legible. How many times must we have this discussion?”

“At least once more.” I replied.

I rolled my eyes at the ceiling. He waved a ruler at me.

“Perhaps I have a better solution.” He said.

“Oh, yes sir. Wallop my hands really good and maybe my penmanship will improve while I cannot hold a pen.”

“No, I will not give you the satisfaction of such an excuse. You will write 500 lines for me in perfect penmanship and you will do it before you leave this room today.”

“I have an appointment at three.” I said.

“Then you had better get started.” He replied.

I looked at the clock on the wall, it read two o’clock. The good doctor in town was expecting me at three to assist in a surgery. The choice between learning to write and learning to perform surgery was not a choice at all.

“I am sorry Mr. Stark, but I am expected elsewhere and I cannot reschedule this late.” I said.

“Are you defying me Miss Spooner?”

“You may call it what you wish. I am short of time all ready and must be leaving now.”

“I will expel you from this class if you leave without completing the lines I have requested.”

I stood up and gathered my things. There was nothing more to say and anything I could say would only provoke him further. I walked to the door.

“Someone needs to have a word with you about your priorities.” He said.

I turned with my hand on the doorknob.

“The mere fact you suggest my priorities are in question is proof enough you place undue importance on your own Mr. Stark. You never even asked about my appointment. How do you know which is more important when you do not even know the choices?” I said.

I turned the knob and walked out before he could reply. I hope he does expel me from his class, but I doubt he will keep his word.

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