Academic journal article Field

Penmanship

Academic journal article Field

Penmanship

Article excerpt

Teacher gave me a nibbled inch of yellow chalk. She took my hand in hers and wrote on the board, "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," then drew a deep breath and printed, "these are the times that try men's souls."

She (or I) wrote with astonishing slowness so each sentence would feel irrevocably mine. I sensed her thorax contract and tense against completion, under her board-stiff blue serge dress. I watched the words surface on the slate, like the Pleiades reflected in a puddle, from the most distant point in the cosmos.

Why didn't I dare cough or sneeze? If I trembled, her grip tightened.

Meanwhile the free children watched, passing spitballs like love notes. The bullies memorized my compliance, planning their own punishments: a turd in my desk, a frog in my satchel. …

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