MFotD: Resile and a video reward for anyone who finishes it
Look here for an intro to the wildly successful Micro-fiction of the Day series.
Today’s word: resile, verb (rih-zyle)
1. Recoil, retract, especially: to return to a prior position
Wordlessly, Dave stood up from his desk, put on his coat and left. Ms. Jones would be the last teacher to leave the English department office yet again. She sat grading papers at her desk-in-the-corner, which was home to a miniature cactus, a lighter that looked like the Statue of Liberty and a red ball-point pen she adored, which in all her years students had never seen (she kept it in the top, lockable drawer during school hours) but knew and resented from the scathing comments it was employed to write.
After grading for a while, she picked up a cigarette and the lighter. Now that her colleagues were gone she didn’t have to step outside for a smoke. As she puffed her eyes scanned the room. From her desk she could see a picture of Dave’s family; his kids were handsome but his wife’s smile was gummy—and of course there was the one mangled ear. Ms. Jones spun in her revolving chair to look at the clock behind her. It read 5:25, so Haden Tompkins would arrive soon. She was waiting for Haden to get out of basketball practice in order to confront him about the inauthentic writing in his essay.
She put out the cigarette on the wall and looked at the essay in question. It was about The Catcher in the Rye, and the sentence that aroused her suspicions was, “Holden resiled in disgust from Mr. Antolini’s outstretched hand, which is ironic because after spending the whole book proclaiming his hatred for phonies he can’t accept Mr. Antolini revealing his true self.” With a second read she found at least six other examples of words that didn’t quite fit, which Haden probably found in an online thesaurus.
Haden opened the door. He was still wearing his practice uniform.
“Hello Ms. Jones,” he said politely. “What did you want to see me for?”
“I wanted to talk to you about your most recent essay. Please, sit down.”
His face grew apprehensive and he walked slowly across the office. “What’s wrong?”
She smirked. “Why do you assume something is wrong, Haden?”
“Because of the way you said that just now.” She could see that he was still sweaty from basketball.
“Yes. Well. Tell me, Haden, what does resile mean?”
He slunk low in his chair and rubbed the back of his head. “Uh…I’m pretty sure it means to recoil, you know, like flinch.”
“I’m sorry, that is incorrect. It means recoil, yes. But someone can’t resile physically. It’s more like a rhetorical move.”
“Something you do with your words,” she said, mistaking his “oh” for misunderstanding. “So if I said that your team was going to win your next game, then said that you were going to lose, I would be resiling from my original position, get it?” She thought using basketball in her example was a sound pedagogical move.
“Yeah, I do. Thanks, Ms. Jones. Can I go now?”
“No,” she scoffed. “I say all this because I noticed you used a lot of words incorrectly in your paper, just like resile. It makes me think that you used an online thesaurus instead of your own words.” She leaned forward to better study his face.
“No! I swear I didn’t!” He looked panicky, even a little confused, and he was speaking quickly. “Please, Ms. Jones, I…I just asked my older brother for some help! He knows a lot of words so—”
“Calm yourself, Haden,” she said. She was certain he was lying, partly because his older brother always struck her as an idiot. But seeing Haden squirm like that was enough of a joy that it was worth letting him slide, at least this one time: “I’ll believe you. But if I suspect you are doing this on your next essay, I won’t be so lenient. Write your essays in your own words, understand?”
“Oh yes, Ms. Jones, thank you! It won’t happen again I swear!”
“Indeed. Now you may go.”
He nodded and exited the room as quickly as possible.
Later that night, when she was sitting stoned on her couch, she thought about the irony of how she resiled from her original idea: to give him a failing grade on the paper. Ha ha, she thought.
Here’s a song with no meaningful connection to what you just read.