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TICKS AND CROSSES

TICKS AND CROSSES

You’re almost a teacher now, and I think that’s awesome. I’m glad you’re sticking through the PGCE, I’m glad you’re doing what you love. It’s crazy to think about you teaching little people. I can picture you in front of a classroom, talking through the rules of algebra, showing students how a problem, like a magic trick, can be easily solved when we look a little closer, break it down into smaller parts, take it one step at a time. I can picture you telling them these things—these simple things that are either right or wrong—that we all learned and forgot, before the harder lessons came.

Our lessons now are not so black and white. There are no ticks and crosses to guide us. We had to add to our lives, multiply, subtract in order to divide, never knowing whether we were right and even if we weren’t, who got to decide? And why should we be so moral all the time, anyway?

Because you offered me no apology. And ethics would say that you don’t need an apology for forgiveness, but mathematically, to solve an equation there needs to be equality, both sides of the sum should pull their weight evenly, and we were so unbalanced, so heavy. So I was petty, I was selfish and unhappy, and I probably still am those things honestly. And I want you to let me be those things. Let me hold grudges like you held your apologies. Let me count up the hurt in ones and twos and threes. I tried to be so brave, so indifferent, but there are things we cannot measure, and I cannot always have an answer.

Did you get around to reading “The Sun is Also a Star?” I would like my copy of “Wonder” back. Do you still wear those shoes I got you? Do you still have your bridesmaid dress? Or the little wooden calendar block? Is it on your fireplace? Do you change it as the days pass, or let it sit in the past?

There is no break-up card for a dead friendship, no ‘sorry for your loss.’ I regret how easy this whole thing was. Shouldn’t it be harder for things to break? My mum tells me this happens, that it’s part of growing up and growing apart. I try not to blame myself. I try to make new friends. I try.

There is so much we do not know. So much they didn’t teach us at school. So we think with our lips, answer these questions with whatever parts of us fit, our hearts never as ticked as they are crossed, always. We stare at our futures like they’re headlights in an abyss, like they’re laid out like test papers, and we have not studied and we can’t remember a thing. We ask: ‘How long is a friendship?’ Only as long as a piece of string. How long is that? Not very, when you count by the number of chances you have given it.

I was never very good at tests, and my crosses are not always written in ink, and sometimes I think they are not crosses at all, but something more akin to coffee stains or fingerprints left by whoever was marking me.

You were a good friend but a better teacher, and I still have lessons to learn.

You stand, first day of a new term, new shoes, thirty faces wide open, and a clean whiteboard that, soon, will have so much to say. You take a breath, pick up a pen and somewhere in a quiet room, I turn to a new page, and start to write.

 

 

Author: Victoria Best
Email: vickybest6@gmail.com
Author Bio: Victoria Best is the author of two teen novels, “A Little Birdie Told Me” (2012) and “The Mute and The Liar” (2014), both of which were published when she was only a teenager. She is now an aspiring poet.
Link to social media or website: https://www.instagram.com/victoriabethwrites/

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