Étude a Short Story by Lynley Stace

Etude illustration

I wrote “Étude” as an homage to Katherine Mansfield, guided by her coming-of-age short story about the tumultuous emotions of adolescence: “The Wind Blows”.

I wrote a short story about a teacher-student crush because after teaching at a girls’ high school in my twenties, I knew exactly how ‘decent’ teachers deal with crushes. I hadn’t seen reality reflected in entertainment. I see films and TV shows where good-looking male teachers keep girls behind after class, alone, closing the classroom door. These fictional teachers are doing every single thing wrong, yet their characters are coded as behaving in a decent manner. No good teacher deals with a teacher-student crush by keeping a student back after class, alone, with the door closed. If a teacher ever does that to you, they hope to encourage the infatuation.

Happily, the vast majority of teachers are very decent people. Here’s what would most likely happen, written under the spell of Katherine Mansfield, with extra musical flourishes…

Étude

She awakes to music – tinny, chattery beats. Jitter-jitter-jitter, her mobile phone scuttles across the study desk, past the spiral-bound history of Renaissance Composers and jump! A suicide onto the bedroom floor. An omen. Something disastrous is about to happen. Today is performance day! She knows it’s just a mock. But oh how the entire world depends on it…

She ties a regulation maroon elastic band around her hair, securing it at the back of her head in one regulation bunch. She hates her hair like this. She’ll meet one of her teachers in ten years’ time and he’ll say, ‘Why Cadence, how modern and original you look!’ and she will reply through heavy-lidded eyes, ‘This – this is the extent to which you bastards stifled my individuality.’ She does not dare glance at herself in the mirror. She’ll pretend she is somebody else today. Continue reading “Étude a Short Story by Lynley Stace”