This Writing Life - The Teacher's Desk

One of my earliest memories of school is of sitting in front of a class and telling a story. Sometimes it was my class; sometimes somebody else's. "Big kids" would come down the corridor and ask my teacher if theirs could "borrow" me. Then I'd walk behind them, feeling tiny and lost--so many doors with matching windows, so many long corridors. At least they knew the way.

Their teacher was probably going to a meeting with a parent or the headmistress. She'd smile at me and invite me to sit at her desk, then say "I won't be long." I'd gulp, always feeling slightly scared as I climbed on her chair--there's just something about the teacher's desk. It's tall. It's forbidden. It's sacred ground. But I'd sit and peer over the top at expectant faces. Just before I started to speak I'd be looking round the room, eyes wandering, mouth gathering air for words, and wondering if the threads of a story would really be hiding there.

Of course, once I started talking I always knew it was all okay. The thoughts were like blackberries falling in my hand, and thorns were just the occasional frog in my throat. Stories were spun from sunlight and chalk-dust and air. They poured out of me like breathing, and I couldn't quite understand why people thought it strange. Doesn't everybody dream?

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