Now, if you would just take a grace minute to look at Otto Beckett’s to-do list, you will see, other than ‘buy the milk’, ‘pay the bills’ and ‘dental checkup’, the words ‘send roses to Odette’. And you will know how important this Odette lady is by simply judging the handwriting on the beige slip of paper. The other to-dos were written in a quick, scruffy scribble, the cursive illegible and the ink almost dried out.

I sit in the far back corner of the classroom on the third floor of this institution, situated right next to the floor-to-ceiling window which the old alder tree hovers over. Fall approaches ever so quietly, revealing bird nests and squirrel headquarters as the leaves unhinge themselves from the branches. The high pitch of Mrs. Bradford’s voice pulls me back to reality as she starts waving the chalk in front of the board, casting agonizing pain over us, that is, another assignment.