Dominique curled her fingers around the lever to the red fire alarm. She pulled, connected with the glass bar, pulled harder, shattered it, popping it apart, then the lever eased toward the floor.
The alarm blared and pulsed. Dominique cringed under the decibel assault; her face flushed. She leaned into the hallway wall, her ear pressed to the painted cement. Dully chairs scraped, on the other side of the wall. Voices. Footsteps. The doors opened, almost all at once, throughout the hall. Inseams shuffled, and soles of shoes scuffed and squeaked across the polished floor. There was laughter and a nonchalance among the students. Dominique pressed closer to the wall.
The hall slowly emptied out into the afternoon. A few students lingered, talking or texting on their cell phones. The alarm broke up the monotony of the day. Dominique turned and slipped into the nearest room. Mr. Carson's room. It was a still and quiet as it was in the evening, but lighter. The windows faced west, so the afternoon sun made golden parallelograms of the desktops. The room smelled of paper and the vinegariness of dry-erase markers. An old map of the United States was pulled down at the front of the room. It swayed slightly in the air conditioning. She had been pressed against that map, her hands on Alaska and Maine. Saskatchewan probably still had her smear of lip gloss. Mr. Carson had refused to kiss her.
Dominique bee-lined for Mr. Carson's desk. His laptop was open on the top, but locked. She reached down and picked it up, started to close the lid, then opened it again. She held the computer briefly before replacing it. She grabbed some ungraded papers from a stack on his desk and crumpled them up individually in little balls, dropping them on the keys of the laptop. She took a lighter from her jeans pocket, the lighter that Mr. Carson had given her on her birthday, and clicked it. She watched the flame for a second, felt the radiance of it on her thumb, then held a paper ball to it. The ball ignited and was quickly engulfed. She dropped it with the others.
"Dom!" he said. He stood in the doorframe. Dominique froze, her skin crawling.
Mr. Carson rushed in and brushed the burning paper off the laptop and to the floor with a sleeved forearm. He stomped on the paper until it was out, then examined the laptop. The keys in the center where soft with the heat and sooty.
"Do you know how much this cost me?" he said, calmly.
"I'm not sorry," said Dominique. She stepped back from the desk, back from Mr. Carson. He put the computer back on the desk and stepped closer to her. Dominique glanced at the open door.
"There's no one here," said Mr. Carson. Dominique stepped back again and bumped into the whiteboard. The map brushed against her shoulder. Mr. Carson stepped forward and pressed one hand into Dominique's hip, and placed the other on Michigan, splaying and flexing his fingers across the Great Lakes. He dug his thumb into her pelvis, in towards her ovary.
"Ow," she said, wincing. She turned her head to the side as tears began to flow. "Stop."
"I say when to stop," said Mr. Carson. He smiled. Dominique turned back to face him.
"They don't love you like I love you," she said.
Mr. Carson relaxed his hand, then moved it up to her waist, running his fingers under the line of her breast.
"Everyone loves me," said Mr. Carson. "They can't help it." He leaned in, breathing in her ear as she trembled. "You're nothing special," he said, grinning.
Dominique shook with crying. She let her hand walk up the wall searching. It clambered across the ledge of the whiteboard, then she stretched out her fingers and found the weighted end of the map. She grabbed it, pulled violently, wrenching it from the wire that affixed the map to the ceiling. North America buckled and fluttered. She twisted her spine, swung the weighted end at Mr. Carson's head, striking him in the mouth. He fell backwards, hitting the back of his head on the desk. He slid to the floor and rested unconscious in the blacked balls of paper.
Dominique stood over him, the map hanging upside down from her hands, her mouth open and panting. She dropped the map over him, then dumped the rest of the pile of ungraded papers on top of him. They slid and fluttered around him. She took the lighter from her pocket and clicked it. The flame reflected in her tears, her face sparkled. She knelt down next to him and picked up a paper. She held the flame to the bottom edge, and looked into his vacant eyes. Then she dropped the paper.