by Jim McMillan
Some of my classmates chuckle as I walk to the front of the classroom. They know what I am about to ask. Mr Munro, our 21st Century history teacher, stops reading from his lesson screens and barks, ‘What do you want?’
‘I have terrible stomach cramps Sir. I need to go to the lavatory’.
‘Don’t take too long,’ he growls, 'and go to see the nurse at the end of this lesson’.
‘Yes Sir’. I hurry off as quickly as I can and pretend not to hear the murmurs of Quick, Quick, Quick, from my friends.
The period we are studying in the 21st Century is from 2020 to 2030 and quite honestly, I find it fascinating. In 2020, they made so many terrible mistakes and it was so nearly the end of everything. I am sorry to have to miss part of Mr Munro’s lesson, but I have received a message that my parents want to speak to me.
I hurry to the boy’s lavatory which is in the usual mess with water and used paper towels all over the place but after making sure all the cubicles are empty, I lock myself in one and use my watch to contact my parents who are on the other side of the world.
I quickly see the face of my mother on my watch. I smile at her and she tries to smile back at me. ‘Good morning my son. I hope you are well. Your father is here and wants to speak to you.'
The picture changes on my watch and I see father’s face. He seldom smiles and I do not smile at him. ‘Good morning my son. I am sorry I have not seen you for ages, but your mother keeps me informed of your education and I wanted to see you today to tell you how pleased I am with the excellent results from your study of the 21st Century. There is so much we must learn from the mistakes of the past.' He nods when he has said what he felt he needed to.
‘Thank you, father,’ I reply. My watch goes back to showing the time.
I am ready to leave the cubicle in the boy’s lavatory. But I hear footsteps as someone comes in and I see a pair of old men’s brown brogues underneath my door. I have prepared for this. From the pocket of my school blazer I take out my special pen and press the clip so that it emits the terrible screams of a young man in agony.
I open the door. Mr Munro is waiting outside. He looks shaken. ‘I had to come and check but poor lad you sound terrible. Can you make it to the school nurse on your own?’
‘I am not too bad today Sir. It’s something I must live with. It comes. It goes. It’s gone for now. I really want to go back to your class to find out what happened in the autumn of 2020’.
‘Good lad, I think everyone finds that period so fascinating. No-one could have predicted what happened next. It was so unexpected’.
‘Tell me!’ I wanted to scream at him.
But then the bell rang, and I just had to wait.