What Direction Now? Life at the intersection…



From Mrs. Anderson’s 6th grade English class…proofed but not edited…


Progressive Writing Activity #1

You go to school on a warm September morning. When you enter the classroom, you are amazed to discover that…

…every one is there and class has started. “I can’t be late because it’s only……” You look at the clock, it reads 8:30, but where did the time go? You got on the bus on time and you seemed to get to school on time, but then you remember that your mom brought you to school. When you got out of the car, the clock read 7:50. You sit down at your desk and try to regroup, but wait, where is your desk? The teacher is calling out attendance. When she calls out your name, she looks around for you. Then she puts a check by your name to say you’re absent. “What’s going on?!?!” you scream, and walk up to the teacher to try to get her attention. You do everything, even put your hands right in front of her face. You yell, “This isn’t funny!” right before you slam the door shut. No one even flinches. When you get out in the hall, you start yelling, “Can anyone help me?” Then, a tall, dark-haired lady with little spectacles comes out of her room and says, “Yes, I can hear you, now quiet down! My class is trying to work!” Her name is Mrs. Piersmall.

Let me explain something to you. In your school, the builder only built 199 rooms instead of 200. So, everyone said that Mrs. Piersmall taught on the two-hundredth floor. This is quite a shock to meet a made-up teacher who teaches in a made-up room and everyone in her class is made-up people. She asks you to take a seat in her classroom and sits you with three made-up people. Their names are Virginia, Jerry, and Jon. Jerry and Jon are identical twins. Virginia looks as if she is about 60. She says that she has been here for 40 years. Jerry and Jon have been here for about three. Virginia explains that you never eat, drink or sleep and that you have a bunch of homework. She says it was terrible, but you could never get out. Mrs. Piersmall then assigns 1 to 1 billion in alphabetical order. You groan. You hear that you get a 5 minute break every 6 hours. On your first five minute break, you think about how to get out. You think no one has ever disobeyed her before because they are afraid. You’re not afraid. So, on your next five min. break, you plan to disobey her somehow. You don’t know what will happen, but you’re going to do it anyway. Your next assignment is to write down the thesaurus frontward and backward. You feel that you are going to cry. The next five minute break slowly comes nearer. When it comes, you sit on the desk and throw your stuff on the floor. She tells you to sit down on your chair. You say, “No!” and wait for the punishment. She counts to ten. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,…” You grit your teeth and close your eyes. “8, 9” You find yourself with you hand in the teacher’s face. She scolds you and tells you to sit down. You do, but first you say, “YES, I’m back,” and pump your arm. On passing period, you decide to see if it was still there. It wasn’t, or was it? You shake your head and run to your locker.


Three notes:

1) For an 11 year-old, there is an impressive amount of modes and registers here…and some good attempts at tension (“…or was it?”).

2) The in-jokes are just rife, especially with all of the names.

3) A very telling detail about my personality then (and even now): even at my most diabolical moment, I plan my disobedience for the break so as not to disrupt class (thus, forcing myself to sit through six unnecessary hours of thesaurus copying).
And I’m just dreaming, counting the ways to where you are…

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What Direction Now? Life at the intersection…

About Andrew.

Andrew Cartwright grew up in Indianapolis, IN, but has lived over the years in such places as Denver, CO; Fairfax, VA; and Rivne, Ukraine. He is a former nonfiction editor for both Indiana Review and phoebe; he has also worked for the intersectional feminist journal, So To Speak, and the national literary magazine, Electric Literature. His work has appeared in The Normal School Online, Copper Nickel, Esquire Ukraine, Literary Hub, and Word Riot.

For more information about me and links to other writing, visit my author page at cartwriter.com