23 March 2012

Causes and effects

Mental Health
Chapter four. 
Principal Brink, now almost totally sure that the coast was clear, slunk through the window back into his office, as nearly as his middle-aged body and his suit permitted him to slink. He put his ear to the office door, and heard nothing. He knocked with the secret pattern he had devised and taught to the receptionist, and waited for the return signal that would say he was safe. 
The receptionist put down a boring magazine and leafed through the papers on the desk, but couldn't find the paper where the codes were written down. The principal would have felt overwhelming anxiety if he had known that the signals he had so carefully invented were in such a vulnerable written format, and held in such careless hands, at constant risk of interception. The receptionist was growing slightly irritated by the necessity of dealing with the principal's idiosyncrasies, and had written down the knocks because they did not merit memorization. 
The anxiety that the principal would have felt about all that was instead raised when the receptionist, failing to find the paper, called his office phone instead. He heard the dialing, knew it was from the other side of the door, but didn't pick up. Hadn't that fool ever heard of wiretapping? 
In an effort to calm his nerves, he tried to trace his mental steps back to the origins of his anxiety. The most pressing and immediate cause he could think of was being seen by the superintendent. Why didn't he want to be seen by the superintendent, or indeed by anyone? 
The principal didn't think he had paranoid delusions, and didn't believe in any conspiracy theories that he was aware of. The only reason which came to mind, in the sort of internal logic he would have been helpless to explain to anyone else, was that he hated that kid. The one whose easily-forgettable name he could never remember. 
He realized, as he pulled his thoughts from their mental tangle, that he was not hiding from the kid, who would be relatively easy to avoid. Instead, he was hiding himself, because he suspected that a principal who hates a child is either losing his mind, or is a horrible person, or both. Principal Brink had been trying to quarantine himself. 
He couldn't keep it up, though, and even if he were able to, it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the school. And so the solution became glaringly obvious: the kid had to go. 
What a happy coincidence, then, that just as he came to this conclusion, Principal Brink glanced down at his desk and saw, on the top of a stack of mail, a pamphlet from a charter school he had never heard of. Now accepting transfer students, it read. And the principal began to form a plan.

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