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Gnawed Pencils #fiction #shortstory

gnawed_pencilsI arrived at the classroom early Monday to find him waiting by the door. “Are you the returning student?” I hipped the stack of books and papers and unlocked the door.

He didn’t look up from the ground. “Yes, Ma’am.” His pants were ragged, average-brown hair a little longer than approved dress code length.

I walked to my desk to put down my stack. “I expect you to come to class prepared each day, same as the others. Since you’re coming in a little late into the semester I can give you some extra tutoring to help you along. I don’t have that plaque on my wall for letting students fall behind. Though since it’s only English you’re taking, you shouldn’t have trouble keeping up.”

He shuffled a foot and made brief eye contact.

My chest tightened, as though my Grapes of Wrath flew from my stack and walloped me. “Robert? Robert Maples? Is that you?”

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