“Can anyone tell me any cultural references to Heather?”
I get up from my desk and go to the blackboard.
I write HEATHER in bold strokes of white chalk and turn to face the class.
It’s the last lesson before the end of term and I’ve decided to take a break from the Canterbury Tales.
Paul raises his hand and I nod my assent.
”Robert Louis Stevenson : Bonnie Auld Scotland.”
I add ‘1. fragrant hills of purple heather’ to the blackboard.
It’s rather hot in the classroom and I start to sweat: I loosen my collar to get more air.
“What about you Jill, anything?”
She hesitates then shouts “Scarborough Fair, Sir”
This is going well : I smile and add ‘2. Gather it all in a bunch of heather’
Feeling a bit faint and dizzy I return to the comfort of my desk.
Andrew, at the back coughs, and I gesture him to speak.
“Kings of the Night by Robert E. Howard”
Rising again I feel my heart beating wildly and grasp the side of the desk. I take a long deep breath.
The class is staring but I turn and write ‘3. … concealed in the tall heather, lay a hundred picts with their shafts on string.’
My chest feels tight and there’s a ringing in my ears. Although I’m starting to shake, I signal to Samantha that it’s her turn.
She looks at me rather oddly, and I raise my eyebrows inquisitively.
“You’re not looking well Sir, you’re all white!”
Suddenly the dizziness returns, my mouth is dry and I’m shaking all over. My legs give way beneath me and I feel myself falling.
The fall seems to go on forever while the film plays out in my head vividly.
I’m back in my car: my wife is sitting in the passenger seat. I catch a glimpse of the van speeding towards us and hear a screech of brakes. I only have time to utter one word before losing consciousness.
The heavy curtain of darkness lifts and I open my eyes.
A paramedic is taking my pulse, and the children are huddled at the rear of the class, strangely subdued.
I prop myself up on my elbow and grin, trying to hide my embarrassment.
I really should have chosen a different flower.
Here is this weeks Literary Lion organised by the lovely Laura Gabrielle Feasey. She writes that Literary Lion will be changing to a fortnightly challenge from now on. I can’t wait to discover the changes!