I’m working on a collection of short stories in the hope that some of them will eventually come together to form part of a book. Here’s a little taster (based on true events).
So I’m sitting in a lecture about the Linguistic Landscape of various areas in Europe. Its Mamma Tufs lecturing this week, and as much as I love her, she has the most monotone voice in the world, perfect for sending me to sleep. Today however, I’m wide awake and can’t stop fidgeting. I’m checking my phone every five minutes, almost like I’m waiting for it to explode into thousands of marshmallows. FLASH – text message. From Rachel. She’s just found out she’s going to be co-president of Band Society next year. This is exactly the news I’ve been waiting for. I smile down at my phone like the Angel Gabriel bringing me good tidings of great joy (not that I’m comparing Rach being elected co-president of Bandsoc to the birth of Christ).
What I failed to notice in this instance that up until the moment that this text message arrived, I was twiddling my pen between my forefinger and thumb. Upon receiving this news I inadvertently speed up to warp speed pen twiddling, the result of which means that the pen launches itself across the lecture theatre and slams into the whiteboard from which Mamma Tufs is reading. I feel the pen leave the orbit of my hand and hear the slam before I see it. My eyes widen as I look up slowly from my phone, which is still flashing at me (the light gets stuck sometimes. N.B. Don’t get a blackberry). The entire theatre is filled with eyes staring back at me, with a mixture of emotions circulating the air. Allow me to describe some of them:
Anger – HOW DARE SHE WAKE ME UP!? I AS HAVING A REALLY GOOD DREAM
Relief – Thank god for that, I was about to stand up and walk out. Drama!
Shock – How on earth…what on earth…huh?
Respect – Way to stick it to the man freckles! (For some reason, in my day dreams, everybody calls me freckles).
Amusement – Please tell me that was deliberate, it would make my day if that was deliberate…
…and my personal favourite, Obliviousness (mostly on part of Mamma Tufs herself) – Why is everyone staring at her like that? Did she ask a question? “Yes, Emily? Did you have question?” The rest of the class stare back at me with corresponding looks of amusement by this point. I can read their thoughts through their widening smiles and narrowing eyes. Yeah, Emily! Did you have a question? Let’s be honest, none of us were listening, but things just got interesting. Muahahaha!…I stare back, completely in the dark about what exactly we’ve been lectured on for the last 23 minutes, so I do what most desperate people do in this situation. I clutch at some straws and go as vague as I possibly can.
“Yes, I was just going to make a suggestion”. I gulp loudly as her expression alters from polite curiosity to intense confusion, as if she were a cat admiring her reflection in a mirror, only to realise it wasn’t another cat upon prodding it with a paw. “Oh? Please go on,” Oh god, I’ve definitely bitten off more than I can chew here. Her eyes say it all, like V.I.K.I from I, Robot. My logic is undeniable. I take a deep breath to steady myself. My eyes don’t leave hers, my palms are clammy, an I’m very aware of the fact that she’s probably wearing more money than I have in the world…but that doesn’t stop me running off the cliff, spreading my limbs and praying to god my chute opens.
“I was just going to suggest that maybe the Linguistic Landscape of this particular area is so complicated due to the influx of immigrants in recent years. Surely their addition and contribution to this particular society would increase the linguistic repertoire several times over? This would also explain why all of the signs in languages other than the official dialect are made from more modern materials, would it not?” I pull on the cord and feel my descent slowing already. I look up and my chute isn’t just open, it’s multicoloured and has got “LIKE A BOSS” written on it.
Even I’m shocked. Where the hell did that come from!? I tear my gaze from hers and notice that many of the narrow eyes and wide smiles boring into my forehead have morphed into wide eyes and low-hanging jaws. I mirror their surprise; internally of course, I must maintain my cool in front of Mamma Tufs. I return to her gaze, which is now pensive tinged with suspicion. And then, like a toddler sneaking downstairs on Christmas morning to find the glass of sherry and mince pies left out over night have vanished – there it is! A smile pulls up the corners of her mouth. Whoa there…did I just impress her?
“That’s an excellent point, Emily. We must consider several factors in this type of analysis, however, so it is not quite so easy to simplify this concept down to just one cause and effect. Good observation, though”. She turns around and retreats closer to the whiteboard to continue with her presentation. She still hasn’t noticed the bright blue ballpoint at her feet. The rest of the class return to their original positions, the sense of shock and surprise still thick in the air, the beads of sweat still present on my forehead. I stick the landing. Now as long as she doesn’t slip on it…
I stay behind until the end to retrieve my pen. (What? You think I wasn’t going to keep it as a trophy?)