‘Sunday Photo Fiction’ – ‘Chemistry doesn’t like you’


To this day, I recall the smell of methane, the vicious blue flame and the ice cold feel of brass. Even when the Bunsen Burners weren’t being used, I’d sense their presence, positioned strategically in the centre of the high wooden tables like soldiers ready to attack.

I hated chemistry. The Mr Bean-type teacher, Mr Tansley wore a melange of browns and purples under his lab coat; this was the 80s after all, yet he somehow always looked dour; miserable and afraid of the world he intended us to discover through various experiments and calculations. Yet despite my aversion both to him and the subject, I pitied him for he was hated by teachers and pupils alike, bullied and tormented by both. I often wondered why he’d chosen such a job.

It was a sad, old lesson for me, a big black hole in my middle school timetable; the misery reinforced only by one hastily scribbled comment in my school report. ‘You don’t like chemistry and chemistry doesn’t like you.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

20 thoughts on “‘Sunday Photo Fiction’ – ‘Chemistry doesn’t like you’

  1. Seems as though we’ve all encountered this same teacher–at least once in our lives. And as a former teacher myself, I can only feel sorry for folks who end up in the situation this guy finds himself–day in and day out. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My brother and I got into the ether jug, filling petri dishes with the stuff and soaking paper towels. The challenge was to inhale just enough to achieve twilight, but not so much as to pass out. Once, I overdid it. The word went black and I recall hearing the far away sound of a bowling ball being dropped on linoleum, a musical sound accompanied by flashing lights.
    This, of course, was my head hitting the floor. My brother scooped me up and helped me out.
    The teacher, Mr. Kellis, was a lunchtime drinker, and as this class was in the hour just after lunch, he was so drunk he didn’t notice one if his students passing out and falling onto the floor.
    Happy memories of high school in 1980s America.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of science teachers was bullied too, tormented so thoroughly by merciless pupils – cheeking him, setting fire to the lab! – he had a breakdown. Kids can be ruthless. Great tale and you’ve made me have sympathy for all involved here – very good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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