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The Spot Writers – “The Language Addict” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writers! This February’s prompt: Pick up the two books closest to you (a mandarin textbook and A Court of Mist and Fury). For the first book: copy the first 3 words of the book. This is how your story will start. For the second book: copy the last 3 words of the book. This is how your story will end. Fill in the middle. As an added challenge, turn to a random page in each book. Choose the most interesting word on each of those pages. Include those 2 words in your story. Interesting words from these: humanities and wrath.

This week’s post comes from CaraMarie Christy, the young-un of Spot Writers. Visit her blog on Word Press at Calamariwriting and check out her book from when she was twelve, Fairies Fly. Bonus points if you ask her about her book photography.

***

The Language Addict

Essential phrases: Hello. That’s it. A one word list of everything I need to remember to make people like me. The only thing you ever need, in any language, is that one word. My mind whirs, as only an old woman’s can, with thoughts, ones from the past cluttering the new ones, popping behind my eyes as I consider what to do to entertain myself. I’ve got four more hours left on this flight. Hanging into the third-row aisle, I have a nice expansive view of my companion choices. That’s all us old women ever think about anyway: who to talk to. There’s the couple arguing in Dutch at the back of the plane, the French flight attendant that keeps narrowly avoiding my elbow, and the man in the black coat sitting suspiciously next to the exit. But my eyes have been especially wondering toward the woman across the aisle from me. Her eyes are dark and there’s a faintly square shape to her chin. I want to ask her in… No.

Because if I reach across this aisle, and assault this woman with a two-week’s course of her supposed native tongue, it would be an invasion of her space, much more than a simple smile and the phrase “guten tag!”. And if she doesn’t speak German, then she can smile, nod, and go on reading the book in her hand. And if she does speak German… Bam. Friend. But for her, this could be a connecting flight to lord-only-knows where. Or she could be a tourist like me, which would be just as swell as a real German. Even if she is a German citizen, only 78% of Germans natively speak German. She could be an immigrant. And that will get us nowhere.

In the pleather seat in front of me, there is a sewn pocket overflowing with textbooks. I’ve stuffed them there. The wrath of the young gentleman to my right, when earlier I elbowed him six times while trying to flip through every page for how to say “spinach” (turns out it was just “spinat”), was enough to set me straight. Read like a chicken and be glared at or keep my arms to my side. I chose to keep him happy. I’d be interested in his language, but his flippant way of sneering at my books and penny loafers made it abundantly clear–American. Definitely. I don’t know why, having lived and worked in U.S. elementary education all my life that now, in retirement, I’ve grown to dislike “American”. I’ve got a taste for other types of humanities now, other ways of speaking. They seem much more fun.

The thought chills me and I want to edge away from this young man. I scoot further into the aisle, my hip gouging into the arm rest. It’s the woman on the left who is interesting. There’s a world of possibilities with her.

English, French, Chinese, Spanish… She could speak one of them. The big guns. The chances of that were high. And I knew plenty of words from the big languages.

I’ve convinced myself of it, when I find myself leaning across the aisle, smile pasted on, and give her a good, “Guten tag! Sprechen sie deutsch?”

WRONG. Three words too many come out and I can feel my ego soaring while the rest of me, the part of me that knows how to weave around a social interaction, comes crashing around my ears.

“Eh, sorry…” Laughs the woman. Her eyes twinkle and she never loses her smile as she says, “Ah… Español?”

Yes. A big gun. One of the biggest. Three weeks with Mr. Harviar at Northern Virginia’s Sterling community college. I know this one. The old and new thoughts collide. In my attempt to find something, anything to say… I pull out the first phrase that comes to mine. I can’t hear Mr. Harviar saying it in my head. Instead, it sounds like a little Hispanic girl selling soft and hard tacos.

Porque no los dos?”

My ego crashes down to the floor, where the rest of me had been scattered. The woman forces a laugh at the old, overused joke, then makes a point to ignore me, leaning back in her chair, reading a novel that I can’t even translate the cover of. I slink back into my own seat, scooting toward the right, to remove myself completely from teetering into the aisle, then pull out an Amazon catalogue from the pocket in front of me. The American man’s eyes are on my neck, as I ignore my travel guides and my books.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “A Road of Anthracite” by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you a weekly dose of flash fiction. Today’s prompt involves a bit of fun: Pick up the two books closest to you. For the first book: copy the first 3 words of the book. This is how your story will start. For the second book: copy the last 3 words of the book. This is how your story will end. Fill in the middle. As an added challenge, turn to a random page in each book. Choose the most interesting word on each of those pages. Include those 2 words in your story.

This week’s story comes from Dorothy Colinco. Check out her blog for fiction, books reviews, and book news.

***

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – First three words: It was 7; Bonus word: Wellington

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk – Last three words: road of anthracite; Bonus word: transatlantic

***

A Road of Anthracite by Dorothy Colinco

It was 7 years after that first meeting that we spoke again. The first time was initiated by me, but chance had its hand in our second meeting.

In the moments when I thought about my good fortune, the bounty of my life, I was sometimes checked by a sudden realization, a miscalculation of the good and the bad, and I’d remember, “Oh yes, I have a brother who has rejected my very existence,” and I would read a doorstop of a novel or paint or review the taxes of the small business whom I worked for until I no longer remembered.

I remember walking along 7th Avenue, perfectly content in this city that was supposedly overdone and stale and gentrified and no longer the center of the universe, though it still was to me. I was headed to the restaurant, the one he suggested after I requested a meeting. I didn’t have to explain who I was. He must have known by my name on social media, but even without that, my picture gave him clues The end of my nose, my hooded eyelids, the fullness of my top lip.

I remember reading the menu posted outside the restaurant, entrees I had never hear of at the time – beef wellington, niçois salad, escargot. I was about to give the hostess my name when I saw him at a small table in the corner of the room. I had never seen him before, but I too had clues: his hairline, the arch of his brows, his cheekbones, so like my own. The resemblance to a face that was forever lost to me hurt.

As I sat down, he looked up, and I thought I saw him startle as he too registered the resemblance before he took on a neutral air.

He reached into his briefcase and took out a checkbook.

“How much do you need?”

“What? I don’t – That’s not what I-” I stared at the pen hovering above the table. “That’s not what I wanted.”

He seemed confused, and then, irritated.

“What, then?”

I suppose I wanted to tell him that I was angry at being rejected for no reason, that I was sad about our father passing, that I was again angry that I’d been deprived of someone who had access to memories of him. But at 23, I didn’t know all those things, or at least I didn’t know how to say them out loud.

And so I left. I didn’t want his money. I didn’t even need it. I was doing very well for myself. My modest flat was exactly that, but it was also paid for each month, on time.

I was 30 when we met again. This time, I was not a discarded half-sibling licking the wounds of rejection but an accountant at a law firm who published short stories in little-known magazines in her spare time. I had moved into a different but still modest flat, and my tendency toward everyday simplicity afforded my occasional luxuries, like the transatlantic cruise we had unknowingly both booked; I was with my close friend, and he was with his wife. It was at the piano bar that we found each other. My friend Claire had found a beau on the ship who invited her to dinner, so I sat alone at the bar while listening to Piano Man. In another setting, it may have been too on the nose, but floating on the Atlantic Ocean with strangers whom I’d see for another 7 days, it was pitch perfect.

It was then that the bartender brought over a drink paid for by “the gentleman over there.” I almost waved it away, but I noticed a tilt of the head that was not unfamiliar, the bar lights glinting off cheekbones that were like the ones I brushed highlighting powder on earlier that evening.

I didn’t touch the drink for a while. Condensation was slipping off the glass when I finally picked it up and brought it to my lips. It was bitter, with an underlying current of something sweet and bright, like citrus.

I couldn’t discern what this drink was – an olive branch? A bridge? A door, perhaps, opened after being shut forcibly and for so long.

As I stood and moved toward the seat across him, I decided it was a road, though not an easy or pretty one. It was rough and hard and unforgiving. It was still a road, though it was a road of anthracite.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spotwriters – “A Wait with Gabriel” by CaraMarie Christy

Welcome to the Spot Writers. We’ve all been waiting for 2017 to start and now it has! Waiting is rarely the most fun topic to cover, but for this prompt, we have to write a scene/story that’s whole premise is around waiting in a line. And try to make it as interesting as possible.

This week’s post comes from CaraMarie Christy, the young-un of Spot Writers. Visit her blog on Word Press at Calamariwriting and check out her book from when she was twelve, Fairies Fly. Bonus points if you ask her about her book photography.

***

A Wait with Gabriel

This didn’t look like the bank. It had to be the bank, because she had parked her 2001 Civic outside of a bank, but as Melanie Court had walked through the familiar squeaky double doors, something felt different. The fluid in her stomach swirled and her head ached till she was sure that she was fainting, dropping like a rock toward the ground. When her vision cleared and her headache eased, there was something different about the room she was looking in at. Her TD Bank, in Melderstown, MA, a town where bank tycoons knew they didn’t have to spend much money facilities, was a gray place, with motheaten chair and rusty chandeliers. This bank felt so much bigger, but no… It couldn’t be a new one. Someone would have gossiped her ear off about the jobs brought in by the construction. It was just somehow… incredibly renovated since her last visit. Now her bank was decadent, covered in gold trimming and mahogany booths.

And the line.

She was about to head back to her car, when she saw the number of people leaning against the tills and plucking at the red velvet ropes meant to section off one line from the next. They were packed in, almost side by side, but no one seemed to be looking at one another. They all just stared at their hands, some with theirs clasped in front of them, almost as if in prayer, and Melanie felt awkward being the only one staring, so she looked down at her own, chipped pink paint nails.

They were such a wreck, that she dared to look up at the lines again. A young man, in a pressed suit with deep amber skin and a winning smile, was making his way up and down every line, with a small tray. It seemed awfully too small, Melanie thought, for the number of coffees he was managing to give away. Almost no one refused him, and he gave the young boy that did a different cup, with darker liquid, and a big smile. After a few rounds, he stopped at Melanie.

“Coffee?” His smile might have been the most beautiful she had ever seen. “Bit of a wait to get through without coffee.” Her tongue went numb and she couldn’t form words, so she blushed, and tucked away a gray strand of hair. “I could get you some cocoa if that is more your taste? Or wine. Definitely no shortage of wine around here.”

Wine at a bank? Just before she was supposed to drive home? As uneasy as she felt by the offer, Melanie’s chest felt warm and comfortable in line. She was in no rush and had already moved up three people. It would be waste to leave now.

She held out an apologetic hand for the coffee he had offered. “I guess I haven’t been to TD in a while. Didn’t know it got this busy.”

“TD…? Aw! TD Bank?” The man closed his eyes. She could see them roaming gently beneath his lids, like he was searching for something. Then he opened them with a smile even more dazzling than his last. “They really should have fixed the bricks holding up their sign. It was a real shame. Not many people don’t see it hitting them like that. Maybe a shame and a blessing though. A blame? No, that’s already a word… how about… a shessing? Whatever it is, I’m glad you’re not nervous.”

It didn’t matter that he spoke strangely, Melanie decided, or used “they” instead of “we”. This man was dazzling. Whoever made the dimples in his cheeks was a genius. She had made great progress in the line while he was occupying her. She wanted to wrap her arm around his and hold on to him for a while, she would probably never get a chance to speak to such a handsome young man again. Not at her age. They would reassign him to a different bank soon, for sure, somewhere more crowded. Melderstown was never really like this. Today had to be some mistake.

“When did your sign break? Are they going to make you fix it?” No, they would give that job to someone else. Tom down the street or someone from Larry’s construction. This man, in his white shirt and flawless dark skin, was too clean-cut to be outside. He was a jewel and needed to be locked up in a treasure trove. Melanie blushed again.

He half-smiled at her. “I’d guess it broke half a second before you stepped through our doors. And me? No, I’ll stay here. My name is Gabriel, I just like helping around this place. Especially the dog room.”

More people had filed in through the doors. Gabriel flashed her one last smile before he gestured with his free hand for her to look forward. They had slowly walked so far, and talked so long, that she had made it to the front of her line, stepping up to the woman at the till without thinking about it. The young woman was almost as beautiful as Gabriel. She looked Melanie up and down with a stern, icy gaze.

“Go up the staircase to the left behind me and pass through the gates at the top.” The woman opened the door to her booth and Melanie was sure she shouldn’t be allowed in such a high security area. This was where all the money was kept! And other people were stepping back too. The woman pressed her, “You can head up now, Mrs. Court.”

Mrs. Court did what she was told. When she was halfway up the stairs, she stole a look back at the bank, and could have sworn that the man in the suit, carrying the silver tray, had bright, feathery wings on his back.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Timehop” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers, bringing you your weekly dose of flash fiction. This month’s prompt is to write about waiting in line, making it as interesting as possible.

Today’s scifi-inspired tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter and The Man with the Crystal Ankh. You can snag a copy of The Scarred Letter for just $3.99 through January 15th.

***

Timehop by Val Muller

The line wound through ropes the way lines do in amusement parks, a labyrinth of time travelers waiting their turn at the portal. Paul sighed. This could take days. The woman in front of him eyed the line and then checked her phone. She turned to him with a smiling scowl. “I hear the line is always longest at the beginning of the year. New Year’s resolutions and all.”

Paul nodded, trying to say something snarky and witty. Guilty as charged, perhaps?

But the woman kept talking. “I was hoping to get this done before noon. I have an awful meeting with the boss, but if things go right this morning—well, you know. That meeting should cancel itself, right? I keep checking my phone, you know? Like, the whole paradox thing. If I am successful, wouldn’t my appointment have been cancelled already? But it’s still here in my calendar.”

Paul shrugged. “I’m not sure how it works, but I think you have to have your appointment first.”

She sighed. “I know that, but wouldn’t I always have to have had my appointment?”

Paul raised an eyebrow. The whole paradox thing was beyond him. Best not to think too hard about it, anyway. That’s what the brochure said. He eyed up the woman again. She looked about his age. Not too bad looking, either. But why was she here? Avoiding a meeting with the boss? Dressed in simple business attire, the woman hadn’t struck him as particularly sinister. What could she have done, anyway?

“Theft, honey,” she answered. “You have an honest face. I don’t. It’s the sweetness of my face that lets me get away with things. I stole from the boss. Wasn’t worth it, of course. Turns out I need the paycheck more than I needed the one-time payload. Wouldn’t’a been so bad, except for the criminal record and all. Now I can’t get a job anywhere, you know?”

“So you’re meeting with your boss?”

“Not that boss. He was done with me long ago. This one’s a different kinda boss. Parole officer. But I hope to fix things today.”

Up ahead, an employee dressed like a 1960s flight attendant was moving down the line. “Triage,” she announced. “Trying to move the line along. Please have your applications handy.” She carried a slim tablet and held up the camera to a paper application held by one of the people in line. Then she sighed loudly. “I’m gonna say this once here, for all of you in line. You need to have read the user agreement before signing it. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had to send home today. For the last time, you cannot go back in time for the purpose of changing the outcome of the presidential election. Got that?”

A few of the would-be clients looked around nervously, then stepped out of line and shuffled away, heads down.

“Seriously, people. This is time travel. The secret service is already on our backs, and we’re this close”—she held her two fingers together—“to losing our permit. And that means none of you get to go back to do whatever it is you’re here to do.”

She paused as if she had finished, but then she continued her tirade. “And you think it’s cheap fixing what you people mess up? You’re all lucky we make you take out an insurance policy. You know how much it costs for us to send our SpecialOpps back in time to fix your mistakes? Every time you digress from your intended purpose, every time you ignore the contract you signed upon completing your application. I can’t even tell you! Listen. No politics. No assassinations. No kidnapping. No giving out lottery numbers or any of that nonsense. What do you think this is, Back to the Future part two? I can’t even tell you how many agents we’ve had to send to clean up those messes.”

A few more people stepped out of line, shoulders drooping. She continued her tirade, but Paul turned to the woman in front of him again.

“So theft, huh?” Despite her chosen profession, she was attractive and seemed witty enough. Maybe a good match for Paul?

She shrugged. “What about you?”

Paul felt his face blush. It was just the reason he was going back.

“It’s stupid,” he muttered.

“No it’s not. If it was stupid, you wouldn’t be here. We all know how much this costs. It’s obviously very important. So, out with it!”

Paul took a deep breath. “Okay. So I’ve always been so, well—vanilla. Nothing spectacular. As a kid I always amazed my parents and did brilliant things at home. But whenever I walked out my front door, I just closed up. Never spoke up for myself. I was thinking about it, and this one day, one stupid day in my childhood, stands out above the rest.”

“You’re much more interesting than a thief,” the woman said. “Do tell.”

His face felt impossibly hot. “It was elementary school gym class.”

She laughed. “Go on. I think most psychiatrists can trace everyone’s problems to elementary school gym class one way or another.”

Paul managed a chuckle. “A hockey game. I wasn’t the last one chosen, but I wasn’t the captain, either. The two captains were doing a face-off. I never heard of it. I just saw them standing there, in the middle of the gym, with the hockey puck between them. They just stared at each other. I didn’t know what they were waiting for.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“So, thinking I was being some kind of hero, I ran up to them with my hockey stick and smacked the puck toward the goal. Everyone was so shocked that it made it past the goalie. I raised my hands in victory only to be met by the gym teacher’s angry stare. I had to sit in time out for half the class. I was so ashamed that for the second half, I just kind of moped around by the corner, playing with a crack in the plastic of my hockey stick. I’m pretty sure it was the last time in my life I’ve ever taken a risk.”

Her smile faded. “Oh, honey. That’s no way to live.”

Paul nodded. “I know.” He sighed. “So you see, I think if I could just go back and stand up for myself, I would have found the footing to have confidence in other ways, too. Instead of a downward slope, it would have been the start of an upward climb. From getting shut out of sports teams in elementary school to not asking my crush to dance in middle school. Everything would have been different. And I’d be a lot better off than I am now.”

The woman stepped closer to him, and she was about to say something when the “flight attendant” approached. “Application?” she demanded.

The thief flipped a screen on her phone and held it to the attendant. The tablet beeped. “Eleanor Dietz.” The tablet’s screen glowed, and the attendant sighed. “I assume you read the user agreement before you signed it?” she asked.

Eleanor reddened. “I, um. Those things are all the same, you know? I mean, I skimmed it…”

The attendant shook her head. “Traveling back in time to avoid becoming a criminal is a violation of our user policy.”

Eleanor’s eyebrows arched. “Why? I would think causing fewer criminals in the world would be a good thing. I just want to stop myself from stealing the—”

The attendant shook her head. “Too many criminals were going back not to stop their crimes, but to improve them. With hindsight, they were able to go back and destroy evidence and cover tracks. Under our agreement with the EPA, DHS, and several other organizations, we are bound to prohibit anyone with a criminal record from traveling forward or back.”

Eleanor squinted her eyes at Paul, like maybe he could do something about it. But the attendant had already moved on, asking Paul for his application. “Paul Harper.” She scanned it, read her screen, and then looked sympathetically at Paul. “Sweetie, we should let you cut the whole line. Poor thing, but you’d probably be too afraid to, wouldn’t you? You go back there, and you make sure that little boy doesn’t hit the hockey puck, okay?”

Paul nodded.

The attendant continued down the line. Eleanor shook her head. “Well, life’s much more interesting with a parole officer, right?” She deleted her application with the swipe of her finger. “So what’s your plan, anyway? You gonna go and scare yourself? Or maybe you’ll go convince the gym teacher to take a day off? You know, so you can be the substitute for the day? Make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself? The young you, I mean.”

Paul shook his head. He hadn’t thought of that. “No, I have this book.” He pulled a small board book out of his pocket. “It’s about the rules of hockey. I was going to give it to myself a year or two prior to the, um, event. I figure, if I learn the rules of hockey, I won’t make an idiot of myself later on.”

“Not a very bold plan. You sure it will work?”

Paul’s feet grew heavy, sinking into the ground. Maybe she was right. Even after all the money he’d saved up, even after all the time he’d had to rethink his life, all the lonely nights, maybe he just wasn’t meant to be a somebody. Maybe he was simply destined for vanilla.

Eleanor raised an eyebrow. “You know, it’s never to late to start fresh. I don’t mean going back in time. I mean, how much does it cost for—” She turned to a chart on the wall, showing the cost versus demand for traveling back to the 1960s. Cost increased as more people travelled to an era—the more time travelers, the more complicated it was for Timehop to monitor the integrity of the space-time continuum. “Holy crud,” she said. His desired time period put him out seven figures. “Holy crud.”

Then her face melted into a smile, and she stepped close. Very close. “Paul Harper, I happen to know someone in the islands who knows someone who knows a guy who can fudge identities. And they always have need for couples willing to run businesses for tourists. We could, I don’t know, take some of your money, buy a fresh start, open a sunset cruise destination for tourists. Live every day in the tropics.”

Paul’s hands grew sweaty. He wanted to take her hand, to say yes, to step away from the others in line, the ones in their fancy business attire with their fancy jobs and fancy lives, the ones who hadn’t been afraid to say no. But how could he? The image of his gym teacher’s disapproving stare haunted him. He’d be punished again for taking a risk, wouldn’t he?

Eleanor took his hand, and the warmth travelled from his fingertips to his shoulder, and all the way to his chest.

“You know what?” he said. “Why not?”

Like a wild hockey player defying all the rules of the game, he grabbed her hand tighter and wove himself through the serpentine line, Eleanor in tow. He brushed passed a surprised attendant and sailed out of the door with his new love just as smoothly as a hockey puck sliding into an unguarded net.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

 

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The Spot Writers – “Reaching” by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following five words in a writing: marble, TV, evil, butcher, couch.

This week’s post comes from Dorothy Colinco, a new member of the Spot Writers. Visit her new blog for flash fiction, short stories, and book-related news. Stay tuned for a Holiday Gift Guide that will be shared in early December!

Reaching

She recognized a backhanded compliment when she heard one. As hard as Ms. Wang tried to couch her criticism in her fake, cloying, positive, growth-mindset crap, Vivienne detected the undercurrent of disapproval in the written comments on her essay.

“Insightful comment – why do you think the author made this stylistic choice? I’d be interested in your interpretation.”

Which basically translated to: “You didn’t explain this enough, and it’s clear you know nothing about analysis; otherwise, you would’ve expressed it here. Nice try, genius.”

Vivienne looked up at Ms. Wang, who was standing in front of the room, leaning on her desk in a pose that was supposed to emit an air of ease and nonchalance but only made her muffin top more pronounced. Her eyes flitted down at Ms. Wang tights. Her outfits, on the surface, were well put together, but Vivienne knew to look for the short white dog hairs. When she saw those tiny flecks of imperfection sticking out of the “hip” teacher’s tights, a slight grin of satisfaction spread over her mouth. She glanced up and found Ms. Wang smiling at her with eager eyes, that stupid look that was supposed to be encouraging and warm. Vivienne returned the look with a smile that flashed her porcelain teeth, but her eyes remained as cold and hard as marble.

Wang. Fang. Bang. Hang. Dang, girl! Sang. Tang. Yin and Yang. Vivienne butchered her name a hundred times before the bell rang. RANG. The whole time, Ms. Wang walked around the room, spouting something about themes in the book they just read, but Vivienne didn’t hear a word, as if Ms. Wang was a muted TV, a mere backdrop to Vivienne’s thoughts.

As everyone stood to pack up and leave, Vivienne glanced at the essay, splotches of green in the margins, green instead of red to promote conversation rather than criticism, another one of Ms. Wang’s positivity gimmicks. Vivienne didn’t think green was any more positive than red. If anything, green symbolized evil.

She was about to cram the stapled pages into her backpack, but at the last moment, she decided to leave it on her desk – a silent protest. A “positive” protest against cold criticism in the form of rhetorical questions disguised as conversation starters.

She rushed past her brownnoser classmates who were all wishing Ms. Wang a great weekend. She hoped Ms. Wang would notice that she left without a word.

—-

After the students had all left, Ms. Wang took a deep sigh of contentment. What a great class. The lesson was a huge success. The pacing was perfect. The kids were so invested in the warmup writing assignment. She reflected on the day as she went around the room aligning chairs with the tiles on the floor. She would stop by the guidance office today to check in on a student who had been absent for two days now.

She came across an essay that was left on a desk. It was Vivienne’s. Ms. Wang smiled at the thought of the bright girl, a promising writer. Hers had been the most insightful essay in not just this class but the whole grade. She recalled Vivienne during class today. Deep in thought, nodding her head along with the discussion of themes in a literary work. That was a student who got it – who understood that literature was about more than just enjoying or not enjoying a book. She saw the lightbulb go off in Vivienne’s head when she told the class today, “Literature holds a mirror up to humanity and reflects back to us who we really are.”

Those were the moments she lived for. Vivienne would want this masterpiece back. Ms. Wang tucked the essay into a folder on her desk, but not before clutching it to chest. It was a physical manifestation of her hard work and dedication. Everyone knew that teachers weren’t paid well, at least not in dollars. But they were paid in moments like this, moments that reminded them of their meaningful work. The dreaded first year hadn’t been bad at all so far. She was doing it. She was reaching these kids.

__________________

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

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