I have got to work on some things for my classes tomorrow. So, this is it for today, people! A little bit more about Minerva. Thanks for reading.
The teacher wrote a poem for every student. For some students the words came easily, images tripping over themselves to vie for attention, hoping to win a place on the page. For some students the words struggled, but she managed to drag a few free. And on rare occasion the words waited to decide how they felt.
The teacher had a gift she told no one about. She’d learned not to. But when she met a person for the first time, she saw the persons gifts following them around like starlight. Jimmy Jefferson carried the light of a fallen leader and Beatrice Smallwood sparkled with scientific discovery. Victoria Lane was trailed by the lights of hearth and home and George Evan Bash was followed by travel and sea.
Minerva Baines had a rarer light. A time traveler came through her classroom, and she’d have to be careful with this one. It was far too easy to mislay the message to a traveler who hadn’t yet found her fate.
But it was a Saturday afternoon, and the teacher wasn’t thinking about former students or anything else important. She was wandering through the marketplace looking at crates of apples and of daffodils.
“Hello, ma’am.” It was Minerva, smiling hesitantly and glancing back over her shoulder. “Do you remember me? I used to be in your class.”
“Of course, Miss. Baines. I’d never forget you. Are you still in school? I hope so.”
“Absolutely, ma’am. Father says studies are important. Even for girls.” She looked back behind her again.
The teacher casually let her gaze follow Minerva’s nervous glances, but she saw nothing out of the ordinary, not even the girl’s father. “I’m delighted to see you.” She held out her arm. “Walk with me, dear?”
Minerva took her former teacher’s arm and let the teacher choose the way. The teacher unhooked her closed up parasol from her arm and used it as she’d used her long ruler in class. She pointed at a poster pinned to a nearby tent pole. “Have you seen this, Miss. Baines?”
Minerva bent forward to get a better look. “Oh yes, ma’am!” The Time Travel Fair.
“What do you think of it? Have you been?”
“No, ma’am. I can’t afford tickets. And Father would never allow it.”
The teacher let her parasol swing back down beside her skirt. “A fascinating way to travel, through time.”
Minerva didn’t wish to think too long about things she couldn’t do. “Ma’am, I still remember the poem you wrote for me. You write so many, I’m sure you don’t remember, but…” Minerva reddened. “Travel worlds. Travel skies.”
The teacher tightened her grip on Minerva’s arm. “Travel souls. Travel wise. I never forget a poem.”
“What does it mean, ma’am? I mean, I know it is about travel but you said you wrote each poem special for each of us. No one had the same poem. So, why did you give that particular poem to me?”
“You’ll understand when you need to, Miss. Baines.” The teacher pulled a few coins from her purse. “Take these, Miss. Baines. I’m no longer your teacher, so there’s nothing wrong with my giving you a little something.”
Minerva took the coins but stared at them in the palm of her hand. “But ma’am. This isn’t a small token. This could pay the rent for months.”
The teacher wagged at finger at her former student. “Don’t you dare. This is for you. And your tickets for the fair. You add them to the few coins you have hidden away in your room. And then you spend them on the fair.”
“But Father…how did you know I had coins hidden in my room?”
“Please, Miss. Baines. A smart young woman like you who wants to see beyond where she’s kept? Of course you have money hidden away.”
“Thank you, ma’am. I’ll find a way to thank you properly one day.”
“Hush, now. You’ll thank me by making sure your father doesn’t get his hands on these coins. Understood. I’ll know if he does. I promise you.”
“I swear I’ll keep them hidden as well as I hide my wishes.”
“Good,” the teacher replied. “I know you will.”
Minerva hesitated and pulled herself free from her teacher’s hold. “I beg your pardon, ma’am, but I must be going. Father’s expecting me.” She tucked the coins away in a pocket she’d stitched on the inside of her dress, at the collar. She’d begun sewing secret pockets after the day her father burnt the poem.
“Is he?” the teacher asked. “Well, as needs must. I’m sure I’ll see you again. In time.”
The crowd in the market quickly came between them, and within a few steps, Minerva lost sight of her former teacher. What had she come into the market for? Oh, her father would not be pleased if she came home empty-handed. Think, Minerva. Clear your silly head. What did you come here for?
Her father had been very clear. She sighed and looked around, hoping to see something to spark her memory. There it was, that poster. The Time Travel Fair. The coins warmed in their satin hiding place against her breast bone. Soon she’d be able to buy tickets! It was worth the scolding she was bound to receive for her forgetfulness.
Minerva wasn’t even sure yet how to buy a ticket or what it actually meant to time travel or travel time. But she wanted to find out with all her heart. How had her teacher known? The question picked at her a little, but she brushed it away. What did it matter? She was just grateful for her stroke of good fortune.