Who couldn't benefit from Extra Time?
Before the start of Further Maths, Mr Tinworth scoffs, “Extra Time. Who couldn’t benefit from Extra Time on exams? Utter rubbish.”
Your friend Hailey chimes in, “Yeah, Extra Time. As if.”
You wonder who the real Hailey is, the one who claims to be besties or this suck-up.
Copying polar and Cartesian equations, you seek safety in sine and cosine, r and theta. You keep your hand down while Hailey and the boys vie for his attention.
Today you're space shifting from Euclidian to hyperbolic geometry. If he's comfortable with an infinite number of parallel lines through a fixed point, why can't he accept neurodiversity?
But then, all your diagnoses – slow processing, code confusion – are just words to him. No equations.
You draw coordinates and curves on graph paper, note the overlapping thumb that the Occupational Therapist failed to correct. In another era Mr Tinworth would have you in the corner with a dunce cap. He thinks it’s all down to Extra Time that you’re second in the top class.
You stop writing and brace your palms on the desk as the walls start closing in. “Sir, can I take a break please?”
His mouth tightens but he has to let you go. School policy.
In the corridor, black and white tiles swim like an Escher illusion.
Outside you breathe in fresh mown grass. Sun licks your shoulders as you walk toward the curve of the playing fields. You tell yourself the world is a sphere. The universe is expanding at a rate of 73.3 kilometres per second per megaparsec.
Your breathing stabilises.
Mr Tinworth, Hailey, what does it matter? Soon you’ll graduate. You’ll branch out from this place. In truth, we are all expanding into the universe.
Cole Beauchamp (she/her) is a copywriter by day and fiction writer by night. She was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and has stories in trampset, Janus Literary, Ellipsis Zine, Sundial, Free Flash Fiction and Lost Balloon. She lives in London with her girlfriend, has two children and an exuberant Maltipoo. You can find her on Twitter at @nomad_sw18 and on Mastodon at @email@example.com