in science class, they sit and take notes in cow-speckled composition books: atoms, epidermis, photosynthesis, and the earth’s perfect pull of gravity in math class, they calculate how to build drawbridges and fences and try to prove proofs and isolate variables to determine their worth in French class, they order imaginary bread, translate Baudelaire, and ask where they can purchase shoes in English class, they study Poe, discuss summary versus scene, and learn long multisyllabic words that halt conversation in history class, blackboards are tattooed with white letters detailing Pol Pot, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Tuskegee Study, and smallpox-infected blankets and no hands lift, no one poses the question of when are we going to use this? but rather, they nod, and think, for how much longer?
Mathieu Cailler is the author of six books. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous national and international publications, most notably in The Saturday Evening Post and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award, a Short Story America Prize, and a New England Book Festival Award. Heaven and Other Zip Codes, his debut novel and most recently published book, has been hailed “a postmodern masterpiece” by Midwest Book Review and was named the winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival.