*This piece is part of an ongoing short story*
You can read parts one through twelve HERE!
Anass tries to win her over with his stare. She can see his upside down reflection in the shiny surface of her newly cleaned desk, but refuses to look up and make eye contact. She’d stayed an extra hour past school’s end to sort through paperwork and tidy her office after leaving a message for Ms. Harris to come in at her earliest convenience. She’d planned on calling Helena down as soon as the bell rang, but Mr. Anass descended upon her before she could even brew her morning tea.
“Honestly, I think it’ll go more smoothly if we’re alone.” A waterfall of fingers cascades over Anass’ boggy image. “I just think she’ll be more open about things.”
“That may be so, but I am the Principal of the school, Stephanie. I should be here.”
“And what good will that do if she won’t talk?”
“You don’t know she won’t talk. You’re assuming.”
Her skin crawls with the familiar frustration of Anass’ obstinate disposition. She’d been here many times with him and wasn’t about to back down on this one.
“I offer counseling to kids, Rupert. It only works when there’s trust. I’ve built that up, you haven’t.”
“They like me just fine.”
Stephanie suppresses the urge to make what will most likely be an offensive sound.
“You’re right. You are the Principal. And because of that, they avoid you at all costs.”
She gets ready to wield her last resort, the student/counselor confidentiality speech, but there’s no need. As Anass stands, his defeated physique slumps like a sagging marionette.
“Alright Steph, you win. But dinner at Manger next week.”
“You know I’m…”
“There are details to discuss, not to mention some upcoming cuts you might be interested in. Always good to stay in the loop.”
He leaves a trail of musk in his wake and Stephanie, reading between his lines.