1984 Brutal Truth: Fever

Fever

Every day in school a feverish nightmare was likely to occur.  Back then I was unaware of my learning disability and knew nothing of dyslexia.

This is my story.  A brutal truth, unknowingly living with dyslexia in 1984.

1984 Brutal Truth
Fever

 

“…fever…”

 

Fever should rhyme with never. Right? This was my only thought as I stared at the foreign word. Standing at the front of the room, I could barely see over the podium. I clutched the open book in my hands. The black letters swelled and the rest of my grade four class blurred and shimmered in my peripheral.

“What?” Mr. Moir asked not bothering to leave his desk.

Instead, he pinched the bridge of his nose from beneath his glasses. He was a stout man who liked to wear the color of oatmeal. Across the top of his shiny head strands of hair laid like lines in the sky after an air show. There was no sympathy in his expression once he dragged his palm down his rough chin. He looked tired and even a little annoyed. Meanwhile,

I was the one facing my worst fear;

 

standing in front of my entire class reading a passage I had never laid eyes on before.  It took everything I had not to cry or pee my pants and my teacher looked bored.

He scratched the air with his finger as a gesture for me to bring the book to him. When I did so, I pointed at the word with my chewed down finger nail.

“Fever.” He said these two ugly syllables in a way that showed his crowded bottom teeth.

I had never been eye level with Mr. Mori before and did not care for it at all.

“Fever.” I echoed in a whisper. “But it looks like never,” I dared to explain.

His face crumpled as if he were refraining from saying,

‘stupid girl.’

 

Then, from behind me, the tempered giggles and snorts that I ignored, became alive. The entire room erupted into laughter and I saw the jagged line of Mr. Moir’s teeth again. He too was laughing.

My face grew hot and my eyes burned. I felt so small and naked.  Ice cold realization hit me;

this was where my nightmares lived. 

 

Closed in by the chalkboard wall, the giant teacher’s desk, and the podium, I was trapped by fear and humiliation. This moment stretched on and slithered around me, swaying the room. Once the clatter of laughter subsided there was no apology or even pointless face covering. I was not asked to return to my seat. Instead, mercilessly, Mr. Moir pointed to the podium.

“Proceed.” He said as if nothing had happened.

I was not yet freed from this nightmare.

I am dyslexic and this is my brutal truth.

1986 – Sad

1989 – Panic

1990 – Fear

1992 – Anger

1995 – Fraud

 

1992 Brutal Truth: Anger

Anger

This is my story.  A brutal truth, unknowingly living with dyslexia in 1992.

Dyslexic Writer - anger a brutal truth 1992
Anger

High school is a lonely and unkind place for a student struggling with a learning disability that no one talks about.  Anger is an emotional easily sparked.

“What is wrong with you?” Her question alone was heart-wrenching but the tone nearly earned her a slap.

The lines being read aloud were slow and careful.  The unbearable silence that followed her intrusive question made me tremble.

A group of us had gathered in the only classroom with a carpeted area and fabric covered furniture.  I had just landed a speaking role in the high school play and we were meeting to do a run through. Clueless to what that meant, I hadn’t known to be nervous. I was still humming from the excitement of being a cast member. This was a really big deal for me. There were many exceptionally talented kids at my school. The auditions had been a testament to that. Beautiful voices, amazing dancing, and unbelievable acting commanded the stage and I had not felt worthy to claim a spot.

There I was, with the script in my hand, sitting among the best and brightest.  I was in awe. Then the reading began.

Cue the panic.

 

The lead male role was awarded to a very popular, charming and ridiculously hot senior who was a triple threat. In fact, he still is.

When he read, my heart swelled as I listened in amazement. No one seemed uncomfortable or worried about reading their lines. I, on the other hand, was fearful of peeing my pants. Luckily, I only had two lines, one in each act.   There was plenty of time for me to find them and burn them to memory before my character was introduced.

The star of the show was speaking very slowly and carefully. This affected me deeply. I was thrilled that he read like me, except without any of my visible anxiety. So, when the girl beside me interrupted him with her outrageously rude question, I am sure I bared my teeth.

“What is wrong with you?” Her wrinkled nose and furrowed brow froze on the last word.

A long, dreadfully awkward moment passed and something in side me fractured for him. He looked to her and then passed his gaze over all of us.

“I’m dyslexic.”

 

He said this evenly; simply.  There was no apology. It was a fact that he shared in a way that made it her problem, not his.

The breath I released once he returned to his lines was one that I had been holding my entire life. I was amazed by him and this revelation of not being alone was truly freeing. A bubble of glee made me grin when the ignorant girl beside me raised her script to conceal her blazing cheeks. It was a beautiful thing.

Even to this day, he has no idea how the delivery of those two words changed my life.  Before then I had never heard of dyslexia nor had I known anyone to openly admit to something so hushed with such confidence and conviction.   He is unaware of the impact that he had on me that day. And I wish I could say that I was no longer afraid, but that would be a lie.  Just learning that others struggle and prevail with dyslexia was immensely inspiring.

For that, I will continue to write.

I am a dyslexic writer and this is my brutal truth.

1984 – Fever

1986 – Sad

1989 – Panic

1990 – Fear

1995 – Fraud