No one knew what he carried in his fist.
“It is undoubtedly a fly” said the tall teacher with the sweaty nose.
“A robot,” said the fat teacher whose cheeks were cherry.
The one with glasses said nothing. She saw light leak from between each finger, decided to keep her own counsel. It could be a heart, a soul.
Sometimes he held it to his ear. As if it spoke and could tell him things. Like the nature of evil. Or the name of God.
Sometimes he put it to his lips. “Geh, geh, geh,” he would tell it. As if it could translate.
The thin teacher believed that the boy would often loosen his fist to a zero and look inside. Compound eyes peered back, one hundred silver, gold and ruby mirrors. It had a tin tongue and aluminum antennae. Sometimes its jaw came unhinged and the boy could see its teeth.
The fat teacher believed the boy let it out whenever he went home. But only at night and in the privacy of his own room. It would march from door to bed, bed to door, whistling something snappy and savoir fair. In the morning, the boy would pick it up and actually speak. “Good soldier,” he would say. On the bus ride to school, he'd even let it see what he could see – tree, house, house, tree, sun, cloud, cloud, school, teacher, teacher, teacher.
The tall teacher's suppositions got to her first. “No more fly,” she told the boy. She tried to pry open the fist. The creature must have flown out. Such buzz and blood.
The fat teacher punished the boy, put him in a corner. But she was afraid. Her cherry cheeks turned blueberry.
The teacher with glasses had had enough. She squatted on her haunches in front of the boy. “Let's go for a walk,” she said. She rolled out her hand. Flat and open.
The boy rolled out his, flat and open and empty.
And that was that. No one has to wonder anymore.
Thank you, teacher with the glasses.
We are delighted to nominate the following FlashFlood stories to the 2023 Pushcart Prize: ' The Doll House ' by Nathan Alling Long &...
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