205 words by Stanley Lieber
There is a slow dithering moment before it coalesces and comes upon him like a seismic event and all the air goes out of him at once. What the tiny viewscreen shows is certainly the end of his tenure, if not his career as a children's instructional agent.
Little Violet reading from her diary.
He clutches at the front pocket on his shirt for tobacco. Must watch. (Can't watch.) Runs a knotted hand through auburn strands (or lack thereof) and pulls at the lobe of his left ear while blue smoke runs fingers of its own along his cheek, mocking him tenderly.
Another minute, maybe less.
Violet brings her reading to a close, the other children begin texting each other about the performance, updating their own journals silently. The classroom is devoid of snickers; broken out into mad hysterics of flat silence. His attention still rapt. What she has said.
Rick pockets the monitor and pokes his cigarette into a receptacle. Attaches his glasses and pushes back through the heavy air of the empty hallway to his class.
She'd kept quiet.
In spite of her innuendoes, threats, comminations, bluster, disparagement; she hadn't shared her scathing review of his first novel with the class.
Antique photo found on the Internet