‘Let me finish,’ Mr Bell says.
Millie closes her mouth but her anger is clear. Her cheeks an incandescent pinkish red and her fists are clenched at her sides.
Mr Bell draws breath. Disappointment in Millie is brewing, gathering strength and threatening to infiltrate his words, tone and body language. His shoulders are tensed so tight, they are right up to his ears. He lowers them and gazes at Millie, mustering all the kindness he can.
‘When you cheat, you are deceiving yourself, Millie. You’re better than this.’
‘I didn’t cheat and you have no proof.’
Mr Bell sighs. She’s right. He doesn’t have the evidence. But it’s his gut instinct, coupled with her history with English, that sheds the light for him. This girl, promising though she may be, struggles to spell even the most common words correctly, to say nothing of knowing punctuation conventions. When he marked this latest test, he blew his lid over her stellar score of 100%.
‘Millie,’ he says. ‘You can go now. But we’re not done with this.’
He watches her storm from his office and wonders again why he thought teaching a noble vocation.