It was time for the critique. June got up from her desk and peered out over the assembled group.
“OK, it looks like everyone’s here, so let’s do this…Kevin–we’ll start with you.”
Kevin shuffled to the front of the room, turned, and faced the group. Lindsay’s hand shot up.
Lindsay nodded towards June, then dove right in.
“I kind of hate your face. There’s something…you know what it is? You’re not fat, but your face is. You have this weird, wide, fat face with a double chin, but then the rest of you is too tall and skinny. Like, you know how in old cartoons when a character would get hit in the face with a frying pan, and then their face would be wide and round and frying pan-shaped? Kevin, you look like you got hit in the face with a frying pan. Oh, and your teeth suck.”
Lindsay sat back, pleased with herself, as some quiet pockets of giggling broke out around the room; others started to chime in, ripping apart Kevin’s appearance. He was already on the verge of crying.
June took special note of them both. These kids were shaping up to be an especially good batch of recruits. Lindsay was pretty, smart, funny, and, best of all, vicious. The group was going to need more Lindsays–those who could cut someone down and put them in their place with nothing more than a few well-placed words–to be the next generation of leaders. June would have to keep an eye on her, though; she knew a girl like Lindsay would be the type to start gunning for her position the first chance she’d get, and that she would and could get it, too, unless June saw to it that she didn’t.
And then there was Kevin. The group needed plenty of Kevins, too. Those who would break easily, who were unsure of themselves, afraid. People for the Junes and the Lindsays to boss around. People who followed orders and avoided eye contact.
June looked at Lindsay sitting there with her arms folded, legs crossed, smiling; she looked over at Kevin and saw the first tear roll down his cheek. They were both, in their own ways, perfect.