A Student Tells Me “I Would Do Anything, And I Do Mean Anything, For a C”

by Ayşe Papatya Bucak

Would you: mow my lawn, do my laundry, paint my living room, act as my chauffeur, chef, all-around handyman?

If I needed a green card, would you marry me?

Would you be the one — next semester — to tell students when they are failing?

Would you be the one I call when my dog finally dies and I cannot lift her into my car alone?

Would you lend me money?

Would you give me money?

Even if I didn’t need it?

Do you even have money?

Would you write me a song?

Would you look up my ex-boyfriends and ask them if they ever — just sometimes, just once in awhile — think of me?

Would you get a good night’s sleep?

Would you stop global warming? Or at least do your part?

Would you never buy a sub-prime mortgage? Would you save ten percent of your income and give another five percent to charity? Would you open a retirement account? Today?

Would you stop hating your mother? Would you stop making excuses? Would you stop telling stories about yourself in class that make everyone uncomfortable?

Would you do the reading? Every day?

Would you kill yourself? (I would never ask you to.) (But would you?)

Would you stop being so easily convinced?

Would you become a person “on whom nothing is lost”? Would you identify whose quote that is?

Would you show some sense?

Would you “serve as the axe to the frozen sea within”? Would you identify whose quote that is?

Would you keep in mind that your teachers are people with complicated hearts? Would you keep in mind that when you don’t do your work it really does disappoint and when you’re rude it bugs us for days and when you fail we don’t ever exactly forget, and we do, we do, feel like maybe in some way it was actually our fault?

Would you be more like me?

Would you become someone who when offering to do anything — really anything — would demand an A not a C for your sacrifice?

Would you see the world as the piece of wonder that it really is?

Would you see these years as an amazing time in which all was opened up to you?

Would you be honest? Face your fears? Learn to use a comma correctly?

Would you, when I tell you no, forgive me?

Ayşe Papatya Bucak directs the MFA program at Florida Atlantic University. Her stories and essays have been published in Witness, Prairie Schooner, Creative Nonfiction, and The Iowa Review. She keeps a blog on teaching creative writing for Bedford/St. Martin’s.