First Day of School in France

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L’OCCASION D’UNE VIE

There I was, sitting in the middle of the class looked upon by every single student in the entire room. I had a feeling of total awkwardness and embarrassment, and my mind went totally blank. There, like a terrible dream I never thought would come to pass, as time went by like a broken hourglass. I stared, as if I had seen the future through my eyes, as the teacher stared right back at me with her look of despise. She knew deep inside that I was unaware of her dialogue, yet she simply waited in silence for my response. Words began to spiral in my head as I searched for the one phrase that would satisfy my instructor. I threw a quick glance at the other students, and watched as they snickered and babbled off to their friends in a dialect that confused me. I heard myself mutter, “I don’t understand,” each word gradually rolling off my tongue. Awkward silence. I never really came to understand why my simple phrase brought a look of total bewilderment to the group of students in my class. The teacher continued to give me the same stare, somehow reminding me of the unexpected climax of a nightmare. Once again, she spoke to me with her form of language that I could only understand with subtitles, and the silence continued once again. I heard a voice next to me, and began to regain my conscious. These words were comprehendible, words that I used in everyday life. I slowly turned in the direction of the voice and realized that he was talking to me. Hesitantly, he said, “She is asking you what your name is,” and as I gave him a look of puzzlement, he slipped a note on my desk. Inside was everything that I needed in order to give the response my instructor had been so patiently waiting for. It was as if I had been given the code of Da Vinci, and a sigh of relief came rushing out of my lungs. I slowly began to read off the words that had been scribbled so neatly on the piece of paper, and added my name at the end. “Je m’appelle André”, I said with...
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