Estelle Jackson

April 13th, 1977, England
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More Than You Know

Year 7 French class:
Pens scrawling busily,
Buzz of chat in the air
And suddenly it hits me -
The teacher's started feeling ill.
She carries on enthusiastically.
I look around -
They're all absorbed in what's being said
Not the way she says it.
Was it a change in tone,
A weariness or false cheer?
She thinks that I don't know
That she's trying to push through,
But I hear.

Wednesday morning break time
Working in a school:
Wearily climbing stairs -
It's going to be a long day.
I quietly push open
The door to the staffroom.
Four people are inside, wearing smiles of greeting
But something isn't right.
He has just told Her to get lost
And there's an atmosphere between the others.
Were they discussing me?
Or something that they shouldn't?
They act like all is well;
I awkwardly do the same,
But I feel.

A gathering of friends:
A positive time for all.
Laughter and love,
Familiarity and fun.
I don't know her that well,
But something just seems off.
I know little of her story
Yet her pain hits me like lightning.
As my blood runs icy cold
The moment has been ruined.
I feel horrified but powerless,
I'm not supposed to know
But I see.

Trying to have a conversation
About how his day has gone:
All is fine, his work is fine,
His friends are doing well.
At least, that's what he told me.
But when the body betrays the voice,
Which one should I attend to?
The words were clearly lies;
We've just had a different conversation
To the one he thinks we've had.
He didn't tell the truth
But I know.

So many questions remain unanswered:
How do I know
When they don't want me to know?
And what do I do now
With the knowledge that I've gleaned?
Do I take them at face value?
Ignore the atmospheres and lies?
Or push past the reserve;
Sit alongside the hurting and the lonely?
Only time will tell me
Whether I will find the courage.
Until then,
Please don't think that I don't get it
Because - somehow - I really do.
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