Internal Affairs at Ten O'clock

Version One

He sat stiffly in the rigid, school desk, jotting down notes quick as the teacher spoke. His eyes were focused sincerely on the paper before him, ears listening for every new word. A small bead of sweat trickled past his knitted brow in the classroom. He paused a moment to flip the notebook over, wipe his forehead with the back of his sleeve, then resumed writing.

One hand wrote diligently, keeping pace with the flow, and the other tapped nervously on the desk. Every once in a while, his finger would twitch from the multitasking. He glanced around the room anxiously with wide, fearful eyes. He grimaced.

Version Two

Write faster. That wasn’t fast enough. He had trained himself for hours on end at home for months just so he could trail a few words behind the teacher? It was not sufficient. Unacceptable. He concentrated harder on the notes, practically stabbing the ballpoint pen into the college-ruled paper. His breath came quicker from straining himself so hard.

Now turn your notepad over. Quickly, now, there’s not much time! Ignore the cramp. If you cried over every muscle cramp that came your way, you wouldn’t get anything done. Voices in his head whispered taunts, tales, and little bad things. Why are your tapping? Stop that! He tapped faster on his desk, the voices agitating him.

He peered at people in the room. They were doing better than me. They always do better. What was that? They were talking about me. I know they do. I hear them in the halls. Whispering. Laughing. Shouting. Teasing. Always teasing… He clutched his head with his free hand, trying to squeeze the voices away. Get out of my head!

Version Three

There’s Connor again, taking notes as usual. I never even assigned the notes, did I? That poor boy. I see him in the hallways every day; head down, body unbending, eyes to the floor. He seemed like such a nice boy, too, in the last parent-teacher conference.

He appears so different nowadays. Not in the physical sense, or not entirely in the physical sense, at least. He’s paler these days. I need to speak with his parents again. As much as I’d hate to admit, there’s something wrong with Connor Michaels.

“Open your books and turn to page 362; the Medieval Ages.”

The End

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