Your Favorite Student

Submitted into Contest #183 in response to: Write about a character who uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism.... view prompt

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Fiction High School

Dear Ms. Miller,

Remember me? It’s Ian, from English class, 2016. I don’t blame you if you don’t, it must be so hard to keep track of all your past students with all the work you have to do—those essays don’t grade themselves! Remember when you always said that to us? I do. It’s February now, hopefully the ones your kids submitted in November are almost done. Oh, please pardon me, I forgot how busy you are coaching the girl’s volleyball team. Sorry to hear you went 0-16 again, you’ll get ‘em next time! 

Your Facebook account is public, by the way. Just wanted to let you know in case you meant for it to be private, you can change that in the settings. I see you’ve reignited your dating life since the divorce (I almost put the “r” for Mrs. when addressing you!), hope that’s been going well. You must be quite the hit with all the men around town, you can’t seem to pick one! You went ice skating with Mark, got hot cocoa with Tom, did pilates with Andrew, got dinner with Hugh, and saw the new Avatar movie with Jeremy. And those are just the ones from last month! Sometimes people wait a while before they change their relationship status, but it’s totally cool that you don’t. It really lets people know how committed you are. I see you’re still with Jeremy. Three weeks is a new record for you, congratulations! How’s good old Mr. Winston handling the divorce, by the way? I can’t imagine he’s doing too well, given how you ended things. I mean, having an affair with the math teacher right next door to him? That’s bold—admirable, even. 

Anyway, I didn’t write to just talk about how exciting your life is, I actually have some news. I’m off to France in a couple days; I’ve been accepted as the apprentice of Rolande Maçon, the most revered debut artist in Paris. You would know about him if you didn’t keep your nose buried in those celebrity gossip magazines. You know those are all libel, right? But I digress. Using my connections from my university, I was able to arrange a meeting with Rolande to show him my pieces. He was absolutely blown away by my talent! He offered me an apprenticeship right then and there. I’ll be staying in his guest house (you read that correctly, house) in the Parisian countryside, and be waited upon by an entire staff of maids, butlers, and chefs. Every day, I’ll observe him in his studio, an honor bestowed upon only the most deserving of artists, and learn the secrets of how to make art that truly moves people. I’ve already seen a few of his works in progress. He’s working on a portrait right now that will make the Mona Lisa look like Angelina Jolie after a night at the dirtiest club in Los Angeles. I saw that on the cover of Star magazine yesterday while I was updating my wardrobe (did I mention he’s paying me a handsome stipend?); it seems like a comparison you could understand. 

So I earn this apprenticeship and the first thing I think to do is write to you. You were always so supportive of me and my art career. Remember when you said you were looking forward to me taking your order at McDonald’s after I finished art school? Feels like just yesterday! Every great artist has a tragic backstory of people not believing in them. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for starting me on the path to fame and fortune.

I’ll write to you again after I get settled in Paris.

Your favorite student,

Ian

***

Bonjour Mademoiselle Miller,

You see that? I’ve already gotten a hang of the language! In case you didn’t know, mademoiselle is used to refer to an unmarried woman. Sorry to see Jeremy didn’t work out, but I’m sure Brad will be much better! You two looked so cute together at the museum. It must have been a bargain for you, I hear the senior discount is quite the steal there.

I just wanted to reach out to let you know that Paris is even more beautiful in person, the pictures truly do not do it justice. Maybe someday you’ll save up enough money for a vacation here. But it’ll probably take a really long time, you know, with your teacher’s salary. 

I apologize if there are any croissant crumbs in this letter. François bakes them fresh every morning and leaves a plate outside my bedroom every morning. He’s a young man, just around my age. He’s been in culinary school ever since he turned ten. Did you know that the first thing they teach you in French culinary school is how to determine the quality of champagne by smell alone? Apparently that’s a thing. He told me that the best champagne is made by Didiane Desrosiers, in a winery whose location is strictly classified. We had a bottle with dinner last night, and let me tell you, he is absolutely correct. You should definitely pick some up sometime. Oh! Sorry, no, you can’t, they can cost up to $10,000 per bottle. I’ve already gotten so used to this luxurious lifestyle that it’s hard to remember that not everyone can afford these kinds of things. Especially, again, for someone with a teacher’s salary. But anyway, back to François. If you think the only hot thing about him is his freshly-baked croissants, think again. That man is a smokeshow! My heart is fluttering just from writing about him. Tall, clean-shaven, and his arms? I could stare at them all day. I mean, it makes sense that they’re so toned given that he uses them all the time—cutting vegetables, stirring soup, kneading dough. If only I could be that dough, huh! And his face is nothing to scoff at, either. He has eyes that are blue like the deepest waters off the coast of Gatseau, teeth that are pearly white like the clouds above the villa on a warm afternoon, and a smile that could light up the night sky and drown out all the stars. Sometimes I think Rolande painted him. Much better looking than Brad, in my opinion. But don’t let that upset you—something, something, eye of the beholder, or whatever.

I’ve already learned so much from Rolande. Watching one of the greatest artists in the world in his natural habitat really teaches you the intricacies of the craft. He showed me how to paint the petals on a flower so that they look firm and sturdy enough to show that the flower is healthy, yet delicate enough so that they give way to even the slightest breeze. I’d try describing the technique to you, but there truly is no way to translate into words what he has taught me. Don’t get jealous, though! You taught me so much, too. I wake up every morning and think about how grateful I am that you taught me all those different sentence structures. It’ll really come in handy when someone tries to mug me and they’ll only let me go if I can correctly answer if the sentence “She gave him an apple.” is in S-V-DO-IO form or S-V-IO-DO form. It hasn’t happened yet, but you never know!

I should wrap this letter up soon. There’s a gala in the city and I’ve been personally asked to attend by the host. She’s a longtime friend of Rolande and apparently has been dying to meet me because he has been bragging about me to everyone in his inner circle. I guess that’s what happens when you’re the best.

Your favorite student,

Ian

***

Hello Laura!

I figured I should stop with the whole “Ms.” title, I’m not in your class anymore and it just feels awkward to keep addressing you like I did so many years ago. Hope you don’t mind. 

Congratulations on setting a new record with Brad! One whole month? They should make an award for that. You two seem just perfect for one another. What does he do for a living? If I found the right Brad on Facebook, it looks like he works at McDonald’s. Did you say the same thing you said to him as you said to me? I’m sure you swept him off his feet if you did. After all, those words caused me to follow my dreams.

You’re not the only one with news in the love department—François and I are officially a thing! I know, I know, you must be jumping out of your seat with excitement. It’s not every day that one of your most adored students runs off to France to study under one of the most talented artists in the world and just so happens to find the love of his life along the way. Though, it can’t be too surprising. Paris is the city of love for a reason. 

My art life is going just as well as my love life. I started working on a landscape of the view outside the window of my bedroom. It’s such a wonderful sight—rolling green hills covered in soft grass set against the bright blue sky, with wisps of clouds that seem to dance even though they are made of oil paint. Rolande said that my skills are developing just as he hoped they would. He told me that he’s taken on many apprentices before, and none of them could keep up with his teaching. If all goes well, I should be displaying my work at the prestigious galleries in France. Maybe one day I’ll even be in the Louvre. How’s that for someone who was meant to be a McDonald’s cashier? Ask Brad, he can tell you.

Are you even getting my letters? Sometimes I think I should just stop writing to you because I never receive a reply, but then I remember that you are so busy with everything going on in your life. Finally get those essays graded? Hope so. 

On a serious note, I’m truly sorry to hear that your mother passed away. I met her a few times when I was volunteering at the soup kitchen—very nice woman. Strong willed. Said what needed to be said. I guess that’s where you get it from.

Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Probably can’t send you a casserole, but I’ll think of something.

Your favorite student,

Ian

***

Hi Laura,

Long time no see. Well, not really see, but write, I guess.

First of all, sorry to hear that you and Brad broke up. I really thought he was going to be the one for you. Well, that’s men for you. They’ll sweet-talk you for a couple weeks, go out to all these nice places with you, have a good time, and then just leave you in the dust when they feel like leaving. Trust me, I’m well aware. Remember my ex-boyfriend, Kevin? He did the same thing to me back in school. The key is to keep your head high and remember that you are still deserving of all the love in the world.

I feel a little bit bad for saying this, but François and I got engaged. He took me out for dinner at the most exclusive restaurant in the city, and had the waiter hide the engagement ring inside a soufflé. I couldn’t be happier to have him as my husband. The wedding is in a couple months from now. I’d like it if you could join us, but it’s totally up to you. I’ll pay for your travel and hotel, of course, but if you don’t have the time or aren’t interested, I understand. 

I’d ask you how the essay-grading is going, but I saw you quit being an English teacher. I thought you would’ve stayed there until you died. I mean, you were there for so many years before I even took your class, it seemed to me like you had found something you were really passionate about. Someone, I don’t remember who, told me once that you were the record-holder for being there the longest. Was that true? They should give you an award for that. An actual award.

Are you finally pursuing your dream, maybe? I remember once you said you wanted to be a dancer. You told us when we were wrapping up our unit about To the Lighthouse. Lily finished her painting and you said that you wished you could finish yours somehow. Not sure why that stuck with me all these years later, but for some reason it did. Good luck with that, really. If that’s even what you’re doing.

I guess I’m finishing my painting right now. Figuratively. And literally, I suppose.

Hope you write back.

Your favorite student,

Ian

***

Hello Ms. Miller,

You put your Facebook account on private. I don’t really know what to say besides I hope you’re doing well. I’ll try to keep this letter brief.

I never said this when I should have, but thank you. Truly. The things you said about my art all those years ago were mean, yes, but they encouraged me to be my absolute best so that I could prove you wrong. In some sense, I couldn’t have done it without you not believing in me.

I finished that landscape I told you about. Rolande absolutely loved it, so he pulled a few strings and got it displayed at an art show in Marseille. I got to meet so many other incredible artists while I was there. Many of them asked me about my inspiration for the work, and I told them that the beauty of the view outside my window needed to be immortalized in a painting, but I wanted to tell them that it was you who inspired me to do all this. And that’s not a lie. I hope you understand that.

Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

Bye.

Your favorite student,

Ian

February 03, 2023 17:40

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3 comments

Joe Lynch
11:59 Feb 09, 2023

Your command of sarcasm is outstanding, well done.

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Jacob Brown
14:04 Feb 11, 2023

Thank you very much!! :)

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Beck Curtis
18:15 May 23, 2023

Made me smile :)

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