Not knowing is hard for everyone. Not knowing for this teenager who though deficient in the mechanics of writing had just handed in her heart was excruciating! Every day...sometimes several times a day over what was then called Christmas Vacation, I heard how foolish I had been to hand in something that wasn't going to get a passing mark. I knew what would befall me. The only question in my mind was whether I would be upbraided in class, need to sit through a parent, teacher, student meeting, be told I'd have to repeat the class, or hit the trifecta of ineptitude, and have all three.
Little did I expect towards the end of my English class on my first day back from two weeks of agony to hear the teacher call each student up, say a little something, smile at them and watch them leave. Finally it was just the two of us, and I knew what was coming. Before my name was called, I stood knees almost knocking together, and walked the few feet to the desk where I would receive, what I was certain, would be a worse onslaught of the 'why didn't you' then I'd heard from my mom.
I'd watched each student pick up their essay, and knew that the lone 8 by 5 laying there was mine. The teacher glanced away as I picked it up and looked. Before I could say a word, she said, "You know how to write, but...." She pointed to my grade. I'd never seen marks like that. Eyes glued to the red marks, I didn't know what to say. Clearing her throat, I heard her say, "If you want to write you'll learn the mechanics.
Tears of relief welling up in my eyes, I croaked, "I didn't fail?"
She laughed so that I found myself chuckling a bit too. "I can't fail you because what you wrote was true to you and touched my heart. But look," she pointed below the A+++ for story grade to the F- - - grade for punctuation, grammar, and spelling, "if you could have handed in a paper with even average mechanics, I would have entered your 'I Believe' essay in our school competition. As it is you've passed with a 'C.'
Once I'd placed the paper carefully into my binder, I began to turn towards the door intending to flee before she realized she'd made a mistake.
Stepping in front of me, she said my name, and I looked up. "That's better!" she insisted. I nodded and she added, "You are a writer...no matter whether you learn how to spell, learn the grammar rules or not...keep writing."
I left the class with a smile on my face, thought of how lovely it would be to tell my mom what my English teacher had said, and decided I'd keep this to myself because telling mom my teacher said I was a writer might lead to...yuck! more hours at the typewriter!
I do remember that as I was putting my school things away, I heard Frank Sinatra sing 'Someone to Watch Over Me.' I thought about my teacher! For the very first time, I wasn't frightened to go to English class!