“Has anyone heard from Jack?” I ask, looking at the little Zoom boxes, trying to spot him.
“I haven’t heard from Jack.”
“Thank you, Jason.”
“Great—okay, so, today we are going to talk about direct and indirect characterization in The Great Gatsby and—Clark?”
“Yes, Mr. Davis?”
“Could you mute, please?”
“Sorry, Mr. Davis.”
“Okay, so this week—oh, there’s Jack. Hold on.” I move my mouse over to the ‘Participants’ window of the Zoom class and click ‘Admit.’
Jack pops up on the screen. He looks different, a bit older, and he is wearing a crown.
“Hi Jack, how are you doing—“
“Hi. Mr. Davis! I can’t hear you very well! I just wanted to sign in to say goodbye.”
“Jack. Your connection is bad. Where are you? Is that a crown?”
Jack’s face lights up in a smile. He holds up his phone so that we can see behind him. It is an epic landscape of mountains. There is a vast sea of tents and medieval-looking soldiers traipsing about.
“I’m in Klarvendale! It turns out my parents aren’t my parents. My birth parents are wizards! Check it out!”
Jack holds up his hand and a fireball appears. He shoots it up into the sky, then another, and another, laughing as he does.
“So,” Jack says, “I was transported here through a—like—portal thing in my bathroom, and now I’ve gotta beat this evil Green Prince guy. It’s wild, Mr. Davis. I just wanted to let you know I can’t come to class anymore.”
He hunches his shoulders against a violent wind that erupts around him. In the background, two enormous dragons fly overhead.
“Shit,” Jack says, “Sorry, Mr. Davis, I’ve gotta go. Thanks for everything and sorry about not doing my homework!”
Jack leaves the Zoom class.
I look at the other windows—teenagers trapped in boxes, cameras tilted up to hide their messy bedrooms, staring blankly out at me.
“Okay, so who can give me an example of direct characterization in The Great Gatsby—Clark, Clark!”
“Yes, Mr. Davis?”
“Please, I told you guys before. If you’re going to cry, please mute. Okay?”
Clark sniffs, wipes away his tears, and says, “Okay. Sorry, Mr. Davis.”
Thank you for reading! If you’d like to learn more about me and what I do, check out my personal website. To receive the months’ flash stories in your inbox plus updates on my other work, sign up for my newsletter.