I don’t do rage. Indignaty yes, tears plenty, but not rage, not anger, not since I was twelve — boarding school, second month.
It was the vice-head prefect. On the third day she sent me out to polish my shoes. ‘I have polished my shoes,’ I said. She sent me out anyway and did so nearly every morning after that.
Then one evening she accused me of something else I didn’t do and I accused her of picking on me and she accused me of being cheeky and I accused her of being mean and she gave me detention and this went to and fro until the whole school was watching and we were yelling at each other and I had five detentions and she didn’t have a punch on the nose even though she deserved it.
But next morning, when I came to breakfast late because I had been sent out again to polish my shoes, the headmistress called me over and asked where I had been and I told her. She said, ‘Didn’t you come late yesterday?’ I said ‘Yes, the vice-head prefect sends me out most mornings because she says I haven’t polished my shoes.’ ‘And have you?’ ‘Yes,’ I said and she asked, ‘Why do you suppose she does that?’ But I didn’t tell her what I thought. I said meekly (and I’ve done meekly ever since), ‘I think these shoes are not a shiny sort of shoe.’ And we both looked down at the soft brown shoes and she sent me to my breakfast.
It didn’t happen after that but then neither did anger.