Miss Harvey picked up the notebook. “You have a gift for writing,” she said, though she seemed unimpressed. “Your style is very… uh…” Her voice trailed off. She set the book down, raised her head and drew a deep breath. She turned to face Holly, her lips screwed up to one side. She stared at her for a moment, then shook her head and shrugged. “What were you trying to do?” Holly didn’t know how to answer. “I get it,” said Miss Harvey. “Okay, I get it. I’m not stupid. The shipwreck, the island, the child—he’s male in the story, but his initials are a giveaway.” Holly sat in silence, trying and failing to comprehend what was going on. “L. H.?” said Miss Harvey. She pointed to herself. “Lauren Harvey. Not very subtle, Holly.” Holly opened her mouth but said nothing, as her eyes darted back and forth between Miss Harvey and the notebook.
After thirty seconds of torturous silence, Miss Harvey flipped the pages of the book to where the dragon story began. “I mean..” she began, and then stammered for words. “Is this, uh… is it a joke? Or, what—you just like to be cruel? So I’m the shipwrecked boy. Huh? I, uh, I’m alone, always going to be alone—is that it? Okay, sure, I’ve made some bad relationship choices, but it’s not that easy, you know. And the dragon—okay, so somebody told you Mr Reynolds and I dated last year, I suppose. You’ve seen him teaching the class next door, seen the dragon tattoo on his forearm, and wow, look at that—a dragon just happens to be in your story. And then this wonderful relationship between the boy and the dragon is destroyed.” Miss Harvey drew a deep breath, looked up to keep her welling tears from cascading through her mascara and down her cheeks, and then exhaled slowly. “Just like I screw up all my relationships.” She sniffed, took a tissue from the floral box on her desk and dabbed her eyes.
Holly had lowered her head under the weight of awkwardness in the air, but now she glanced up at her teacher, who was shaking her head and quietly berating herself. “Miss Harvey?” said Holly. Miss Harvey shot her a glare. Holly lowered her eyes. “It’s just a dragon,” she whispered.
“Just a dragon?” said Miss Harvey. “Oh, sure. And the pirates? What did they represent? That I’m doomed now after ruining yet another relationship? Well, it would be nice if I could just pick up a cricket bat and get attention from the opposite sex—” she raised a judgmental eyebrow “—but I’m afraid I don’t have that skill. No, I’m just so desperate for love, and so afraid I’ll sabotage it, that I’ll keep giving myself as a slave to every toxic man with great hair that I meet, knowing it will lead nowhere. How’s that? Did I interpret your pirates correctly?” Holly gave an uncertain half-shake of her head. “Well, congratulations,” said Miss Harvey, leaning back in her chair and stretching her arms out to give a sarcastic clap. “You did it, Holly. You figured me all out. Your teacher who will never find love. Your stupid, too trusting, too pushy teacher who opens up her soul and then scares off every man she meets.” Miss Harvey’s lips quivered and her face screwed up. She dropped her head and buried her face in her hands. Her bracelet jingled with every heaving sob.
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