I was rereading The Lord of the Rings under my desk for what was probably the fourth time that month when our teacher walked around with a jar filled with folded bits of paper. Each student put their hand into the jar and pulled out one of those bits of paper. Each bit of paper was blank until the jar got around to me. My note had a black spot in the center.
Our teacher told us to get up, to go outside. She pulled me aside, had the rest of the students stand in a line and wad up their notes into crumpled balls. I stood in front of my classmates, and they stoned me to death.
Back inside the classroom, my teacher handed us Xeroxed copies of Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.” I put The Lord of the Rings aside. I never did pick it up again.