“I realise that’s what Ms Sarah told you,” says Ezekiel Smith, his mouth drawn into an excruciatingly enthusiastic smile, “but I would encourage you to be more skeptical about it. I don’t believe in it. What did Ms Sarah tell you, anyway?”
“That we use it to talk about what came before the past,” replies Maria Fernandez, raising an eyebrow.
Smith throws his head back and gives a forced chuckle. “Why would you want to talk about anything before the past? I had a past before I let the light of the holy spirit into my life, but I definitely wouldn’t call it perfect.”
“Perfect’s just the name for it,” replies Fernandez. “Like, before I got the job, I had already been to three interviews.”
“But, wouldn’t you say it’s possible,” says Smith, tilting his head, “that the devil merely put the memories of those three job interviews into your head?”
Fernandez looks around at the other students, who shrug.
“What about past continuous,” pipes up Felipa Lopez, “do you believe in that?”
“Oh there’s no controversy about that,” Smith says, the pitch of his voice rising as though he is considering whether to take offence. “I use that all the time. For example, Dinosaurs were walking the earth at the same time humans were.“
“And the other perfect tenses?” asks Lopez.
“I believe that the future will be perfect at the rapture, when Jesus calls us back to him,” says Smith, with ostentatious calm.
“Kind of seems like you’re in the minority about the Past Perfect, though,” says Fernandez, finding a page in New Headway Intermediate. “This book teaches it and it’s used around the world.”
“I’m sorry,” Smith says, jerking his head back in feigned puzzlement, “did you say around the world?”