Ms. Truncate arrived at the new semester staff meeting, clicked on the projector, and announced:
“Welcome everyone. First item on the agenda today,” she clicked, “Fuck trees.”
A slide appeared on the screen. The symbol of our order: the stump of a tree with a stack of paper on it. Black, red background.
We all rose.
“Before we go around and share, The Council has sent some policy updates.” Ms. Truncate unfurled a scroll and read allowed, “The quota for poster board projects has increased to three per semester and each teacher is now required to have a minimum of five subject-related motivational quotes printed out and hung on their walls. The Council hath spoken. Fuck Trees.”
“Fuck trees,” we said in unison, crossing ourselves with the sign of the order.
“Okay,” Ms. Truncate said, “Everything clear? Mr. Sherman, you’re first.”
Mr. Sherman stepped forward. “Hm—okay,” he said, “so, I changed the font size on the short stories I have the students read to create an extra page for each print-out. And—yeah, that was the main thing so, yeah, fuck trees.”
“Fuck trees,” we all parroted.
Mr. Gregory was next. “Uh—I made the latest edition of their textbook a requirement for the class so they can’t buy used books from past students. So, fuck trees.”
“Fuck trees,” we chorused.
It went through four more teachers before it was my turn.
I stepped forward. “I—umm, so when the students have quizzes, I print out—like—ten extra copies, and just throw them away after.” The room was silent. “Oh—in the trash, not the recycling, yeah—cool. Fuck trees.”
But no one called back. Instead, all heads turned to Ms. Truncate.
“Who,” she said, “can tell us what Mr. Pigeon has done wrong?”
Ms. Francine raised her hand.
“Go ahead, Francine.”
“Right—So, Mr. Pigeon’s sacrifice isn’t believable. He—”
“Exactly!” Ms. Truncate cut in. She stepped forward and began to pace for dramatic effect, “if we are caught, who will make these sacrifices to the gods? What happens if people start to ask why Mr. Pigeon doesn’t know how to count out his students? Did he not take basic arithmetics? We cannot afford those questions! We are the last line of defense. We take low wages, we deal with needy parents, we eat shit every damn day!”
The teachers around the room grumbled their agreement.
“And why?” Ms. Truncate clenched her first. “Because we are the last line of defense! Fuck Trees!”
“Fuck Trees!” Everyone cried.
“Understand, Mr. Pigeon?”
“Do better,” Ms. Truncate said, returning to her spot in the circle.
I nodded again, thoroughly chastised.
They continued on to Mr. Blabs who was beside me.
“I had all of the students print out their worksheets at home because I convinced them that writing by hand increases memory retention. Fuck trees.”
“Fuck trees,” everyone said.
“Fuck trees,” I said, a little late, a bit muted, my heart not really in it.
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