A Terrible Beauty by D. W. St. John

By D. W. St. John

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There, as he lay dying, in the thick layer of dust on the diamond plate floor, her father had traced her name. • • • She looked up to find O’Connel beside her in the quiet hall, long hair wet from the shower. ” She looked up, eyes narrowed, on her guard. Just how much could he see? ” “You looked a little sad for a second, that’s all. ” He led the way down the hall toward the teacher’s lounge. Dreading this, she hung back. “Oh, I didn’t know, I should have looked at the schedule. ” He turned back, smile mocking her.

She crossed her legs under her case. “I’d like to hear it. ” He nodded, setting back his glasses. ” She squirmed uncomfortably on the hard bench, ran her tongue along the inside of her teeth. So he was right, he couldn’t know for sure. She wouldn’t get sucked in that easily. She smiled sweetly, eyes diamond hard. ” “Hey, don’t give me that look, I don’t blame you. ” He planted a noisy kiss on the ends of gathered fingers. ” She swung her foot impatiently, high heel dangling loose on a toe. ” He turned his head to look at her, ear to the mat, thinking it over.

He clapped his hands. “All right, this is it. ” Fists clenched, Solange wanted her to succeed, needed her to. A tear coursed down her cheek and irritably, she wiped it away with an open hand. Coming to the kick, Chelsea hesitated, and Solange squeezed her eyes shut, unwilling to see her fail. A slap on the mat, and a cheer told her it was over. Solange looked up to see O’Connel flat on his back and Chelsea, a grinning, teary-eyed sprite kneeling on his chest. O’Connel smiled, reaching up to touch her forehead gently with a finger.

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