Part Seven: “These be the stops that hinder study quite”11 September 2018
It was 1578. William Shakespeare was 14 years old when he left school. Then he disappeared. Between 1578 and 1582, there is no documented evidence linking the bard to any job or location. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did in those years. Until now.
Shakespeare was drumming his hands on a desk in the steady rhythm of iambic pentameter. He saw a book flung on the other end of the table: his complete works. He hadn’t dared to open it since he arrived in this place, only reading bits here and there, but not in any depth. He was worried, if he ever read his plays properly, he’d cause some paradox or mar his future genius by fondling words he shouldn’t see. On the cover was a quotation from a play he’ll one day write. To be or not to be. It sounded good, so good he ingrained it in his mind and noted to one day use it at a later time. But then he wondered, if he saw it first on paper and didn’t form it in his mind, then who originally wrote it? He wondered if anyone wrote it or if it was crafted by the Gods on scrolls of parchment and thrown into the world of mortal coils. He didn’t want to read his plays anymore. He wanted to be proud of his future work as work of his own.
He was sitting at the desk with the book on the edge. Dan and his supervisor were sitting there too, smiling. For Shakespeare’s next assessment, he had to read his own works in more depth, and if he wanted to pass the subject and not fail as he did the semester prior, he needed an exemption or some help from his tutor.
Dan stroked his chin, enjoying the power he now had. “Look, I’m happy to give you an exemption and you can write about something else, but it’ll come at a price.”
“If you agree to read all of the articles that we’ve both written about you,” his supervisor said, “and to write your plays in accordance with our interpretations. Then we’ll pass you and you won’t even have to write a single essay.”
“Thou hast little faith in your intelligence, so mindless must your writing be to warrant such desperate measures.”
“Look, this is a generous offer,” his supervisor crowed, “and you can question our methods if you like, but please, realise we’re only trying to help you.”
“But prithee, so dull is your writing, if I were to betwixt it about the lines of my plays your dryness would seep in.”
“But it would make us the leading experts on Shakespeare,” Dan gloated.
“Surely you can just study my play and attempt such a title. Surely your interpretations would be based on sound reason.”
“Yes, well we like to be sure,” his supervisor said, “and of course you can refuse our offer, and you can read your own plays, which would… well who knows what would happen if you created a paradox?”
“Prithee, may I consider the scheme?”
“Why, of course!”
Dan and his supervisor were sitting in an office later that day, discussing their newfangled power and plotting the ideas they could ingrain in our bard’s mind that would harm the careers of their academic rivals. It was then that the professor of Shakespearean studies, David, knocked on their door.
“Good afternoon, chaps. I just received an email from William Shakespeare.”
Shakespeare was sitting in Union House with a Boost juice in his hand, waiting to hear back from Professor David concerning the advice he had sought. Some movement happened in his peripheral vision and Chloe then sat down by his side. They hadn’t spoken since their prior dispute.
“Hey,” she meekly said.
“Prithee, please accept my apology,” Shakespeare said. “My mind doth not rest in your modern ways. I do not mean to offend, only I lack the ability to act with decorum.”
“Look, it’s a bit of a strange apology you made there, but I forgive you.”
“Marry, I came to this world, I was so lost and confused. All folk in this modern place befuddle me, the sycophants and buffoons. But prithee, you’ve made me feel so welcome and so loved, and then I acted a fool.”
“But prithee, I am lost. I love your wit and your mind. I want to spend time with you, and you’re a beautiful woman, but I don’t want to marry you. I am very confused.”
“Yeah, mate, no need to get carried away. The feeling is mutual.”
“But what is this feeling?”
That night, Shakespeare got an email.
Dear students of Daniel Brady,
I regret to inform you that Daniel and his thesis supervisor are guilty of academic misconduct and have hereby been made redundant. Daniel will be replaced with a more qualified and suitable tutor shortly. I will keep you all informed.