Teaching Sophie


All too soon, the A Level results were published. I took her to school pick them up. I thought it best for Sophie to go in and collect them alone, but she was gone barely a minute, returning with an unopened envelope.

"Go on then. Open them."

"I'm scared, James. What if I fail?"

"You won't."

"I can't. Here, you do it."

She handed me the envelope and I tore it open. Inside was a small card containing her results. She'd passed. And what's more, maths was her best result.

I tried by best to look forlorn and said, "Bad news, Sophie."

She looked horrified, bringing her hands up to her mouth. I could see tears start to well in her eyes.

"I'm afraid we're going to see a lot less of each other. You're going to Cardiff – you passed."

Her horror turned to disbelief. "Really?"

I nodded.

"Let me see." She snatched the paper from my hands. After she'd looked at it, she set about me, hitting me playfully on the arm. "You git. You horrible, horrible git."

"I'm serious, Sophie. We're going to be a couple of hundred of miles apart. It'll be hard on us."

And it was. Two days before she left for Cardiff, we went out or a romantic evening. I brought tickets to a London show, and we spent the night in a hotel. That was our last night together.

She settled to life at university and although we spoke on the phone a few times, seeing each other proved almost impossible. We'd been together for barely two months, but our relationship and been going on for almost a year. It felt so right when I was with her that I wondered how I'd cope on my own again. But I was wrong. A newly qualified teacher started at my school that September, and we hit it off pretty quickly. By Christmas we were an item and a year later we were married.

Last I heard, Sophie had met her dream man; a young, talented, postgraduate maths student. They too planned to settle down together.

I'm happy, Sophie's happy, but we're not together. Life's funny like that.

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