Subtext

In this distance-learning class
I have sixteen students
from seven separate schools
and of those eager, energetic souls
four are named Caitlyn (Kaitlyn/Kaitlin/Katelyn).
Statistically speaking, this means
25% of the class is named Caitlyn.
And each of them spells it differently.

I am reduced to calling on
Kaitlin from Guthrie, or
Caitlyn in Choctaw. But in
my mind I’m hearing
Kaitlyn, the Amazon Warrior
Caitlyn, Assassin of the Cult of the Red Scimitars
Kaitlyn Who Must Be Obeyed, and
Katelyn, Princess of the Land That Time Forgot

They will never know
how I keep them distinct
or how I amuse myself
as I discuss the evils of passive voice
but that is because they are unaware
that I am not merely their English teacher
but in reality
Sir William, Professor of the Seven Secret Signs
Last Practitioner of Shimbitzu—the
deadliest of the martial arts—and
Hallowed Knight of the Sacred Scratches.

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William Bernhardt

William Bernhardt is the author of over forty books, including *Challengers of the Dust*, the bestselling *Ben Kincaid* series of courtroom novels, the *Red Sneaker* Books on fiction writing, the *Shine* young adult series, and two books of poetry, most recently *The Ocean's Edge*. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife novelist Lara Bernhardt and their children.

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