The class somberly filed out of her room. She noticed that one of her students was hovering around behind, trying discreetly to be the last one out. The girl probably wanted to talk to her alone for a minute. It happened sometimes. Usually it was the smartest students, or the sycophants who stayed behind. Dina didn't recognize this girl as either. In fact, she didn't recognize her at all. She knew all the brilliant ones and all the troublemakers by heart (they made an impression). The girl was probably a well-disciplined, average student, so Dina didn't know her.
"Professor Sharp?" she asked.
She sounded meek, gentle, and concerned.
"Yes, dear?" Dina asked.
She wanted to be polite, but she didn't know the girl's name. That could be a problem.
"I don't know if you remember me. My name is Daisy."
Well, that solved that problem.
"I have to admit I didn't," Dina confessed, "That's a pretty name, Daisy."
"Thank you," she said, and then smiled, "I...I just wanted to ask if you were all right."
Dina glanced down at her broken arm, which was still in a cast, and she involuntarily touched the stitches on the side of her head.
"Not as good as I could be," she said, "But, then again, not as bad as I could be, either. I'm fine, Daisy."
"Oh, good," the girl said, brightening up.
As Daisy started to turn and walk out, Dina realized that she had stayed behind just because she was concerned. It was a bright spot in Dina's day that someone had been nice to her. She sat down at her desk and began to ruffle through some reports.
"I never noticed that before."
The professor looked up. Daisy was looking at a portrait of Victory Halov. It was hanging on the wall of the classroom. Victory had put on his Fellowship uniform and posed for the portrait, then gave it to Dina as a keepsake. Dina had once kept the picture by her bedside at home, but she had found that after Vic’s death she couldn’t sleep with it there. She had transplanted it to her classroom.
“Being the girlfriend of the founder of the Fellowship might mean something someday,” he had once told her.
He had turned out to be right. Being associated with the Fellowship nowadays meant that you were the object of persecution and hatred. As a matter of fact, it was not very safe to keep that picture around.
"I think I'm going to get rid of it."
“Do you mind if I ask why you have a picture of a Fellow?” she asked, with constrained anger.
“That’s Victory Halov,” Dina said, “He was my boyfriend once. I think I’ll get rid of that portrait, actually.”
"Oh, don't do that!" Daisy exclaimed.
"But it's a Fellow," Dina pointed out.
"Well, I never liked the things the Fellowship did," Daisy said, "But Halov wasn't just another bully."
"Everyone thinks he was."
"Does that make everyone right? It's not promoting the Fellowship, it's remembering someone you loved. It's in memory of a single person who did some good, even if he wasn't in such a great group. Right?"
Dina smiled. She must have taught her students well.
"So don't get rid of it," Daisy said, then she turned and started off again.
She turned around almost instantly, though.
"Besides, it's not a political statement. It's just a picture."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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