Z finished the final copy of the paper his composition teacher assigned for The Elie Wiesel Holocaust Competition.
K is on the phone talking to one of her best friends.
Z puts the paper up to K’s face.
Z: I’m going to read this out loud.
In between laughs in response to the telephone conversation, K makes a mental note that Z has decided to read the paper aloud so he can give it a final edit.
K gets off the phone and goes into the den.
K: Read it to me.
Z: In a second. I had to make some changes.
K checks on the food in the oven while she waits.
Z: I couldn’t think of a title.
K: If you read it to me, I can help you find a title. The title is in the piece somewhere.
Z: I know, but I don’t want that title.
K: Are you going to submit it to the contest.
Z: I don’t know. The teacher says we’ll probably have to revise it if we submit it. I can get a title then.
K: Let’s hear it.
Z begins reading.
K likes what she hears, but she wonders where he got the quote from Hitler.
K: Did you say as bad as slavery or almost as bad? (K explains why the latter might be problematic; Z refuses to change it, but he understands why some people will not like the words he’s chosen. K will not force him to change the wording because she believes the writer has the right to choose his own words.)
Z continues to read.
K: Did you look up the word impel?
Z: Yes, I looked it up using the dictionary in Microsoft. I didn’t know we had it.
Z: I don’t need it. There isn’t an error here.
Z continues to read.
K can’t believe what she’s hearing. He’s sharing something intimate and personal that transpired between the two of them. She learns for the first time how he felt when the situation between them took place. The piece moves her. She is reminded that writing is risky business.
K: It’s good. You should enter it.
K leaves it at that; she is too close to the topic, to the writer, to be an objective listener. She could read it for herself and mark it up, but she doesn’t want to teach him that way. She wants him to learn to write words that move, even if a few are misspelled or poorly punctuated. She'll get to that part of the lesson.Z continues to read. He stumbles so K hands him a pen.