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The Conference This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“You understand why you have to be suspended, then, Kali?”
The auburn-eyed girl tilted her head, gazing, unblinking. Mr. Dipaulis shifted uncomfortably. “I mean,” he hazarded, sweat forming in tiny beads on his brow, “this isn't cultural bias. Rules are rules. Your- the- it's a weapon in the school, Kali.”

Why did he get the sinking feeling that she'd stopped listening, that she'd gotten all she needed to know from him by simply plucking it from the folds of his mind. He shivered. He found himself wishing for the monotonous tick of the clock in the corner, but it had broken that morning, filling the room with the silence of dread. The hands hung loosely, trapped in a moment long since past. Trapped. Like a wolf surrounded by sheep who've discovered the meaning of unity in the face of a common goal.

Pull yourself together, Bradley. She's just a kid. Some snotty, smart-ass kid. You're vice principal, for Christ's sake. The jowly man drummed his fingers against the fancy refinished desk in an erratic anti-rhythm. The ­furnishings shimmered with polish; the girl's careless pose reflected on its surface. He cleared his throat. “We need you to tell us ­exactly how this works and where you got it, or else suspension may ­become expulsion and quite possibly a criminal charge.” There. Assertive. Ballsy, even, eh? More like it – what? Stop looking and listen.

Kali leaned forward, wide-eyed and misty. She was thin to the point of gaunt, and she pushed on the heel of her hands to be upright. The lower half of her body, well, it was useless in that chair, wasn't it? Poor girl, right? So why was it every time he glanced down at her, he got the impression that part of her wasn't useless, just simply … elsewhere? Not here. But of course it was here. Incredibly here, all too real. And, he reminded himself, she's becoming a menace to the other students. Caldwell Janes Academy for Girls prided itself on being menace-free.

Kali smiled with sugar-coated venom. It was not a reassuring smile. “My daddy can't pick me up from school anymore. Too much work.” ­Remarkable how she sounded exactly like a normal teenage girl, with just a hint of an exotic accent, for sweetness, for sophistication. Almost a woman. He pushed the thought away.

“I have to walk home on my own, in a manner of speaking. He gave it to me for protection. I'd like it back now.”

She was lying. He'd been told she would lie, that was how he was certain. He must be certain. That's what they paid him for.

“Ah-ha!” he started, then stopped, cheeks burning crimson, surprised at his own outburst. The sweat was condensing now; he felt it cooling, sticking, like a film of fat over his face and hands. “You're, you-” he faltered. “This weapon. You couldn't buy it at a store.”

Kali barely flickered, just smoothly raised an eyebrow. She had him, ready to sink her teeth in. “I've been assured by my superiors that this is not a commonplace item,” he snapped hotly, then cringed inwardly. She's mocking me. That bitch. Eyes blink, droop, glaze over, as something stretched inside him, hot and full of rage. His subconscious unfurled before him, relinquishing in careful tortures and taken tokens from the girl-woman in his mind, in his office, bind, take, cut, bleed, scream! Sparkle flame and heat and passion! Burn and blood, blood and burn, burn and suffocate and die! Die and death and oh, oh, sh*t!

And he was the one screaming without words, without sound. Open-mouthed in his office, suspended in time, as his consciousness Ego grappled with his Id. The heat was unbearable now, in a room filled with steaming shame and sparkling anger, only now the sparks were directed at him. He had no control.

He caressed his vice principal sign quietly, breathing deeply before he could look up again. Slowly, he spoke the words she put in his mouth.

“Anyway, what do you need it for? Who do you need protection from?”

“Oh, Mr. Dipaulis. You of all people should know that.”

He knew.

“Now, if you please? My vajra?”

Without a word, he slid the trinket knife across the desk.


*
*
*

She left, he realized later, after waking to an empty room, although no one else remembered her coming in in the first place. He made a point of never ­having a conference with her, though he couldn't quite fathom why. After all, every time he passed her in the hall, she smiled quite sweetly.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

meowers5 said...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm
WOW! This was pretty good. I wish all teachers got scared that fast...haha
 
Bookworm1997 replied...
Jan. 29, 2012 at 12:22 am
Ha me too! Nice work!
 
BehindClosedDoors said...
Nov. 6, 2011 at 12:23 am

After not being able to finish a lot of unappealing stories on TeenInk this was amazing. Every element about it was a amazing and I was hooked on. Especially to know what the item was! Thanks for a great read.

 

-BehindClosedDoors

 
SitsUnderWaterfalls This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 8, 2011 at 7:30 am
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
 
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