Multiplication. Counting in tens. Ten, 20, 30 times the boys have been told to sit nicely. ‘Come on, like the girls do.’
A nine-sided shape is a nonagon. None of them have shoes with any laces, high ankles, or grips. Girls learn to run away in unsuitable footwear.
Eight minus eight makes nothing. No big thing only the boys get silly nicknames. Ladled out with a fist bump or ruffle of (untamed) unruly hair.
Seven, Sieben, Siete, Sept. Bonjour petites filles. Little madams if they think about expressing themselves, accepting themselves.
It’s half past when the big hand points to the six. Six flower buttons running down from scalloped collars, sleeves too short on lengthening strengthening arms. Cropped cardigans exposing.
The Great Fire of London started in 1666, lasting for five whole days. Five days a week sitting in school. Noticing all these little things.
Four is a square number, a table of squabbles. Teacher doesn’t bother to turn round; he knows she’ll sort it out before he needs to intervene.
Thirteen take the ten is three girls who’ve had their skirts measured while the boys walk round in raggedy trousers hanging so low, cotton no longer contains their bum cracks.
Two sides of identical length make a rectangle. It’s a four-sided shape. Meaning not every side can be equal.
One ‘o’ clock and it’s story time. Once upon a time a little girl lost count of the rules she thought were stupid.
Martha Lane is a writer by the sea. Her flash has appeared in Free Flash Fiction, Perhappened, Bandit, Reflex fiction, Briefly Zine and Ellipsis, among others. Balancing too many projects is her natural state. Tweets at @poor_and_clean.
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