1984 Brutal Truth: 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 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


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