Monday Evening’s Sonnet

I sit here with the phone flashlight pointing at Lu’s notebook. This is so Lu can copy out her English notes without squinting like a mole under the cockpit’s light.

School started at eight am. Combined, the girls have ten lessons on Mondays. Some are live-streamed and others recordings from earlier in the day – when we were all still asleep in our four-hour time difference.

‘Turn some music on!’ Lu says as she writes. She’s translating Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 ‘Let me not to the marriage…’ for poetry anthology of her English Literature IGCSE. It’s a stunningly beautiful poem.

I shake my head. ‘Just concentrate and write your notes.’

‘Music will help me though!’

‘Lu, do it now properly so you don’t have to do it again later.’

She sighs, but her pen still moves. We tend to do this lesson together on a Monday. Lu does most lessons on her own, but I still like doing English with her. She likes me doing it with her too. It just takes us until the evening to get here – her last lesson of the day.

It’s funny, these IGCSEs. In the end, we’ve chosen seven. If Lulu re-enters Penglais School next year, in Year 11, she can pick up her number eight: Welsh Language, to complete in a year.

Seven IGCSEs feels enough for now. Three lessons a week for each subject – 21 in all. Homework for each lesson. The school calendar is heavy Mondays through Wednesdays, then things start winding down. This means we can try to explore – or use the long weekend to sail to another island.

Jack calls down from below, ‘Shall we lift the dinghy?’ We lift Edna every night for security. Unfortunately, dinghy and outboard engine walkabout is the biggest theft risk for cruisers here.

I glance at Adobe Connect, the platform InterHigh is streaming through. Seven minutes to go.

Jack clucks his approval from the sink. He’s finishing washing up. Where’s Delph? Reading, of course. Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew. I mean, who goes from hating books to non-stop reading in a single month? We know that someone now. She’s lying in bed with the fan on.

Almost done. Lu’s just finishing and we’ll lift Edna up in the air. The Bard can lead us out. Turns out his words were ok. You know, just above average. Sweet dreams, dear reader.

‘Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the removed to remove

O no, it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.’

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

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