1. to make false and malicious statements about; slander.

Peter Peterson saw the demise of his career as a substitute teacher before the wolfish howls reached his ears. Clumps of rich brown curls fell ever so gently to the floor like feathers from a shot turkey.

Miranda Bainer’s little blue eyes filled with tears as she continued to scream. Ever the loquacious drama queen, Miranda was known to exaggerate her emotions, but Mr. Peterson knew the 6 year old felt the loss of her waist-length hair in the depths of her soul. Her red ribbon flopped around loosely now that it no longer had any hair to anchor it to the center of her head.

Next to her, Reginald Ballmer held a sharp pair of scissors–probably from home, Mr. Peterson, thought. He had a malicious smile on his face. Surveying the situation, Mr. Peterson could only surmise that this was all premeditated.

Reginald always wanted Miranda’s attention. Often her only response would be to highlight his inability to play with coordination and speed and calumniate about his intelligence before turning back around to play with her friends. Her words, often hurtful, were not entirely false. But today, Reginald’s facial features denoted his determination that he had won a sizable victory.

It wasn’t until Mr. Peterson took the first step toward Reginald that fear and remorse even began to register in the boy’s eyes. As fast as Reginald could, which wasn’t fast at all, he pivoted and tried to run toward the back of the classroom and out the door.

Before Mr. Peterson could warn him not to run with scissors, Reginald ran clumsily into Gladys Wellington. Her shrill scream drowned out Miranda’s screams and sobbing. Blood covered her dress, the floor, Reginald’s shirt and a few other children nearby.

A chorus of crying broke out, including quieter sobs from Mr. Peterson. He’d only been filling in for a month now, to allow Mrs. Pendelton’s maternity leave, but he knew that the bludgeoning of Gladys might as well have been performed by his own hand. Any harm done to the youngest Wellington of the famously influential Wellington family that donated annually to the school in astronomical sums would mean the end of his career in the whole of England.

Hoisting both girls up in his arms, the three cried together as Miranda covered her exposed scalp, Mr. Peterson headed toward the nurses office, and Gladys left a trail of red on the white linoleum floor.




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