[Today’s snippet of new prose was written in response to a Write Invite trigger last September: ‘power’. While it is completely fictional, I’m sure many people would be able to identify with Suzy’s insecurities — I know I have at times.]
By the third week of term, I was ready to jack it all in! I’d got past the homesickness. I was used to having to fend for myself and —worse still — to pay for myself. But I really couldn’t get to the point where I could make myself heard in the seminars.
All the other students had something to say, to contribute to the questions our oh-so-clever lecturers threw at us. They sat on the desks, or on the floor, around flip-charts in break-out rooms, throwing out words that went right over my head.How could I ever hope to make an impact?
I really shouldn’t have been there, you see. I’d applied for the course because my parents told everyone I was going to University — and I didn’t have the nerve to say I didn’t want to go, didn’t think I’d be able to keep up.
So I’d filled in the forms, gone to the interview, somehow made a good enough impression with the interview panel — and they offered me a place. Don’t worry, I thought, there’s no way you’re going to get the grades for this. You’ll be able to quietly fade into the background when the results came out.
It was therefore a huge surprise, not to say, shock, to get straight A*s in all my subjects. My parents were delighted, threw a huge party for me — and the next thing I knew, here I was at Imperial College studying engineering.
Only I wasn’t — studying, that is. I tried — I really did, but none of the words made sense — and so when we got to the seminars I was tongue-tied. And everyone ignored me. Until today. When I arrived in the seminar room, Abraham was the only one there.
“Hi Suzy,” he said, “I’m glad you’ve arrived early.” He held up a bandaged hand. “It’s my turn to write up the notes and present them back to the class, but as you can see, I’ve had a bit of an accident.”
“Not me, I can’t write it up,” I shook my head and shrank back into my seat. “I won’t know what to write.”
“Of course you will,” he said, “and if you get stuck, I’ll help.”
So while Abraham led the discussion, I wrote up the points made by everyone else — and I didn’t need any help, either.
When we went back into the lecture theatre, Abraham volunteered our group to go first with feedback. He stood up, began to give our conclusions, then stopped and look around at me.
“Sorry, Suzy, I can’t read all your writing. Can you take it from here?” And without thinking about what I was doing, that’s just what I did. I stood up, fed back everyone’s comments, added in a couple original thoughts of my own — and sat down, My legs were trembling, and I was short of breath, but I had a warm feeling of pride — especially when the lecturer praised me for my succinct coverage of the points.
Right about then, I realised three things: Abraham had really great eyes; I was starting to enjoy my course at last; and my father had been right when he said “she who holds the pen wields the power.”
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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