by Anita MacCallum
A commitment to permanent scratching, these tights, tucked into my regulation-grey knee-length skirt. Knickers, white cotton, are stuck to my bum with a thin layer of sweat and still the teacher drones on and on. Fat black fly bangs against the window matching the rhythm of the numbers spilling from Mr. Weston’s mouth.
Calculators mashing sums inside dirty plastic cases, I can spell ‘hello’ and ‘Boobless’ and ‘Boobs’ and all sorts of things like that with my upside down screen but I can’t add up. Dust particles dance in the air as numbers crawl across my book. A particularly plump number eight squats on the page. I push down hard trying to squish it flat. I want it to stay still.
The air in the classroom is solid. Dense like lead. I’m thick in the head. That’s me. Big head one leg, that’s number nine, he’s mighty fine. Twenty two, ducks, quack. Nineteen ninety nine Prince and the revolution and number seven takes me to heaven. Times, add, divide and conquer, Willy Wonka, exploding sweets. Numbers rise up from the page to the sounds of ‘Hands Up, Baby Hands Up’ eight ladies wobbling, ducks dancing, prancing from the page, a parade of disco numbers and I…
‘Susan Braithwaite.’ A rubber bounces off the side of my head.
‘Susan Braithwaite, get down from that chair this instant.’ Mr. Weston’s claret-coloured face watches as my legs climb down and cease their apparent kicking. I resume my seat in my splinter ridden prison that contains me Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A new ladder creeps up my tights, from my knee to the top of my left thigh. Mr. Weston’s black oil eyes squash the disobedient dancing numbers back into place on the page. They line up neatly, casting off their costumes, waiting.