“Nihil Est” by Fosco Graves

December 9, 2012

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If you disappeared, would anyone notice? [26min]

Excerpt:

“It’s been a while,” Principal Leth said.

“Two years.”

“Is the grass greener outside the city?”

I lied and told him things were just as bad out in the suburbs where I was now counselor for a whole district, instead of my former position as counselor for just this single school.

“And Judy?” he asked.

“Fine.” Truth was I didn’t know. She’d left me six months before, and I’d not talked with her since.

The small talk perished. In the big window behind him, the black branches of a dead oak scratched at grim November sky. His chair squeaked as he shifted. Then he finally said, “So. What brings you by?”

“I’m spending a week with my parents,” I told him. “My father’s getting worse. The cancer’s pretty advanced. We don’t expect him to last more than a few days.”

The principal frowned. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thanks. It’s no surprise. He’s fought it a long time. But… since I was right nearby again, I wanted to check in, and ask how things are. I still think about the kids I got to know.”

He nodded. That he understood. So, we talked about some of the more difficult cases. The teenage pregnancies, the students with drug-addicted parents, the homeless students, and the ones shuffled from foster home to foster home. It seemed I’d never left: so many of the problem kids were still exactly where I’d left them, a year before. But one name did not come up.

“What about Timothy Marlowe?” I asked.

“Marlowe?”

“Yeah. I always liked him. He had promise, if he could get over his anger and hopelessness.”

The principal frowned and leaned back in his chair. The cracked naugahyde cushion creaked. “Who?”

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