Her name was Elizabeth Browning, yep, just like the poet lady and to everyone at Thing’s school, she had been known as Mrs Honey. Where that name came from no one was sure, but she did make everyone feel good and warm (just like honey). There is probably a teacher like that in most peoples’ lives; someone who comes along once in the whole schooling process and manages to get the best out of everyone.
Thing remembered his first day at school and how he’d seen Mrs Honey skim the room with those deep blue eyes which came to rest on Thing’s gaze.
“And who might you be, little one?” She asked.
“They call me Thing,” he’d answered.
“Everyone,” he’d replied.
“Then if it’s good enough for everyone then it’s good enough for me.”
And with that Mrs Honey had started to get to know all the new kids. For she knew that a classroom is just a small slice of the world, and some folks were going to have to be helped to swim through it all and some others would only need the lightest of shoves.
The most important point that Mrs Honey had noticed about Thing was, that he might look different from some of the other folks in the class but, basically he was just a kid like everyone else. It was the ones who didn’t look different on the outside that some folks could overlook and not realise that they were drowning inside.
One warm, scarlet red, evening Thing was sitting at the mouth of his cave and wasn’t really thinking about much – maybe a bit of this or that sometimes, but nothing that could trouble a mind. It had been a while since Thing had left school for the final time and Mrs Honey had long since retired, so he was surprised, as probably you and I would be, to see her walking her way up to the cave.
“Well I do declare,” she shouted as she got nearer. “How’s my little precious Thing doing these days?”
So Mrs Honey sat because, as she said, she wasn’t as young as she once had been, and she and Thing talked over lots and lots of different stuff. He told her that he was waiting on his parents to come home someday and she told him about how much she missed teaching and all the children that had passed through her class.
Then she asked what Thing had been doing since he’d left school.
“Some of this and some of that,” he told her. “I went looking for the horizon but I never got to find it,” he said sadly.
And Mrs Honey told Thing that everyone was looking for some kind of horizon, because everyone thought that happiness probably lay just over the horizon.
“So how come the horizon is so hard to find?” Thing asked his old teacher.
“ ’Cause the horizon don’t really exist. It’s just somethin’ out there. Happiness is in here and here,” and with that she touched her heart and her head.
Then she asked Thing if he’d ever thought of teaching and he had to say that he hadn’t.
“Other folks wouldn’t let me teach. I mean, when I walk through the town people sometimes throw rocks at me,” he said sadly.
“And these are the folks that need the teachin’.”
“About what? About tolerance. About understanding. About how folks are all different in their own ways. About love.”
“I could teach all that?” Asked Thing.
“Hey child, you wrote the book on that stuff.”
And Thing said he didn’t remember writing any book and Mrs Honey said it was only a term of speech.
“You could be special in so many folks’ lives, if you’d only give it a try,” said Mrs Honey.
“Where would I start?” Asked an excited Thing.
“You come and see me tomorrow and I’ll give you pointers. Goodness, as if the world don’t need someone like you. You have a heart and a mind and you can’t let that go to waste. Believe me.”
And funnily enough he did believe her. And it felt warm, like honey.
bobby stevenson 2016