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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mrs. Festini's Breakdown, parts 1370 - 1373





1370. That was the kind of picture that had been riding around in Mrs. Festini's hatbox these many years, and I was holding it in my hand as she finished her lecture about Brunelleschi and his dome. When she asked if any of us had any questions I said, "Yes, can you tell me whom this is a photograph of?"


1371. Even as I asked this inappropriate question I realized the answer, it was Mrs. Festini herself, as a young woman, probably at the end of high school, or starting college. My question startled her, and for a moment she did not answer, but then she stated the obvious, saying, “It is a picture of me, home from college at Christmas my first semester, a painting was to be made from it, but it didn't work out.”

1372. Then Bob, a policeman in our class blurted out, "What was the matter you get stood up for the prom?"  This was the same man who some time before had often stood behind me at night asking questions when I was casting those manhole covers into plaster.  She ignored Bob's remark, and I put the picture back in the pile by the hatbox.




 1373. I felt nervous and stirred; I had been forced to see my teacher in a different light. For the first time I saw in her face the remains of her stunning beauty, and also a buried anger I had never noticed before. It reminded me of the rumor I had heard about the argument between the museum director and our teacher.

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