Stop Video/Mute Audio by Hector Duarte, Jr. 

Punk Noir Magazine

April 8, 2020

Today’s the day. 

Miss Klees’ verbal quiz on European capitals. 

Beatriz isn’t worried about flunking. She’s studied and has the material down. Verbal quizzes are so much easier than pencil and paper. One question, get it right; pass. Couldn’t be simpler. 

Beatriz worries about turning on her camera and mic. 

She’s been able to slip by the last few weeks but lately Miss Klees has been more vocal about Beatriz’s lack of presence. Some kids lagged at the start too but now she’s the only one still hiding behind a black screen and red-slashed microphone icon. If she wants to pass, she’ll finally have to click resume video and unmute.

The problem is dad’s always screaming. About how he has nothing to do, nowhere to go. About how no one is hiring. “Not even that spic at the corner store.” 

Beatriz doesn’t understand that one because dad’s parents are Cuban. 

Sometimes after him and Mom are done yelling back and forth at one another, he’ll come in to the room and start in on Beatriz. While she’s trying to hear Mister F’s lectures on informational text or context clues. 

“It won’t matter in a week when they cut the Wi-Fi. Como carajo you expect me to pay for this, niña?” he said that a couple of days back during Miss Coley’s lesson on plate tectonics. 

“Miss Ohana,” Miss Klees calls out.

Dad’s feet stomp up the stairs. Closer and closer. 

“Miss Ohana. Please turn on your mic and camera, and give us the capital of Greece.”

Gosh darn it. 


So easy. 

Dad’s feet sound like hammers getting closer. Maybe she has time to answer. 

“Beatriz Ohana. This is your last chance. Capital of Greece!”

Dad’s too close now. 

Miss Klees is mad at her too now. 

It won’t matter in a week. 

After they cut the Wi-Fi.

Hector Duarte, Jr is a writer out of Miami, Florida. He is editor at The Flash Fiction Offensive and teaches English at the high school and college levels. He has lectured on crime fiction and led flash fiction workshops at several international conferences. His work has appeared in Shotgun Honey, HorrorSleazeTrash, Spelk Fiction, Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, and many more.

Find Hector Duarte, Jr. online …

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