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By D. W. St. John

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O’Connel lay where he was, arms wide, palms up. ” She couldn’t help smiling. ” He shrugged. “Oh, yeah. I knew she could. She’s just a little hesitant. ” He looked over his shoulder at the locker room doors. They were closed. ” Solange shivered, suddenly cold. “She was there. She saw it. She’s been in foster care ever since, but Chelsea— “ He nodded. “She’ll make it, she’s a fighter. 8. ” The rain picked up again, peppering the roof high overhead, a gray, desolate sound. He lay, head flat on the mat, watching her.

As O’Connel came through the door, Celia handed him a message. “Mrs. Sandoval just called again. ” Solange caught her eye as she passed through the swinging door at the counter. Celia knew why she was here and didn’t like it. Why should she be different? Recoiling from the frosty stare, Solange followed O’Connel inside, curious what to expect. The vice principal’s office was a small, windowless room not much bigger than a janitor’s storeroom. A small desk and two chairs filled it. An old paddle, drilled with holes, hung on the wall, thick with dust.

He winked. ” Pleased he had pronounced her name correctly, she nearly smiled. Few got it right—for some reason he always had. “You’re responsible for ten questions. You’ll find the answers you need in the copies of the Constitution I just gave you. Everyone must have the answers in their journals for a written grade, and each group will make an oral presentation at the end of the hour for a second. Test tomorrow over the Bill of Rights as well, so we’re talking about twelve points here, guys.

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