Assassination

     

 

      The art teacher put her glasses back on,

      turned, faced the room

      of bored eighteen year-old faces,

      none of whom were wearing a black trench coat.

      "What do you see?" she said, gesturing toward the painting.

      A student in a jersey with bats flying

      across her breasts mumbled: "Like you just said,

      it's a from the Bible story, Susannah and the Elders."

      "What's the evidence? How do you know that?"

      the teacher asked, her hand fiddling with the small

      smooth stone in her skirt pocket.

      "Those old men behind the bushes are spying on her."

      "Why are they doing that?" the woman asked.
      She found the crumbled tissue in her pocket.

      "Maybe they've never seen a naked woman?" the girl offered.
      Some boys at the back of the room snickerd.

 "   "What else do you see?" the teacher repeated.

       The girl in the jersey had tucked it up

       under her breasts. "She's hanging on, but she's about to fall."

       "What do you think about her falling?"

       The girl shrugged, showing white skin between the jersey
       and her low-cut jeans. She took a bite from her sandwich.
       "They"ll get a good look at her tits."

       "Nothing more is going on?"

       "What else? Naked girl. Dirty old men."

       She glanced back at the noisy boys, glared at them.
       The bats on her breasts rose and fell with her breathing.
       She took another bite.

       "And that's all Benton is saying? Nothing more?"
       She could almost feel the bats settling on her, beginning to feed.
       "Don't eat in class, please." The girl put down her sandwich.
       "Who's Benton?" The teenager looked her straight in the eye.

        The teacher glanced at the clock. In two minutes the bell would ring.

        They'd leave, and she would be alone. She'd put on
        her black trenchcoat, finger the cold metal charm in her pocket,
        know she would never use it no matter how much she wished she could.


                                                                                     Claudette Mork Sigg