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page 3
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Chapter 1
Jean Kosciuszko stood waiting outside her door, monitoring the hall as all teachers were
expected to do during the four minutes of passing time between classes. It was the last period of
the day on the last day before a two week Christmas break, and the hall was empty and quiet.
No other teachers stood on duty, but that was not unusual.
The silence suggested that the whole school might already be empty of students. Even on
normal days, eighth period seemed to exist to be cut, but the halls would still be full of kids at
their lockers or on the roam, looking for trouble. Today the absence of a single sound was
almost eerie. Jean wondered if the other teachers were even around, or if they'd found some way
to leave early. Since the school had stopped using signatures for attendance, she’d often noticed
some teachers running more than one ID card through the machine that took attendance. Since
she didn’t join the cliques that went drinking after school or partied on weekends, she was, like
other loners on the faculty, out of the loop when it came to knowing how practice differed from
policy.
Leaving early was dishonest, but in her mind it implied nothing about how hard a teacher
was working; everybody put in many hours at home, giving evenings, weekends, vacation time,
always looking for something that would work better. Nobody could survive in the classroom
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