Somewhere in Japan, Dispatch № 85: Absent

I was sitting around with a handful of students yesterday who had arrived early. And in the early afternoon, we received news that a student, a little girl who I had seen just last week, had died.

Her father had called the school, voice shaking, to inform us of the event.

It was sudden. When I last saw her, she was bubbly and full of energy, as she always was. She came in displaying a vitality that is wholly at odds with what has since happened.

Later, as I was preparing for today’s classes, I arranged the magnetic name tags we put on the whiteboard every day. When I got to her name on the list, I was obliged to cross it out.

A thick black line drawn through her name, as she would not be attending.

There is nothing profound or poetic to say about it. We are in shock and cannot tell the other students. We are not sure what to do with ourselves.

It rained heavily all last night.

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