The Frankenstein Diaries
by Matthew S. Rotundo
(Part one is in issue 8.)
The guidance counselor introduced himself as "just Mike" -- a young man, barely
older than the students, clean shaven, short hair, small gold triple-hoop earring for
the lightest touch of cool. He stood a head taller than John. His handshake was
firm, his welcoming smile easy and natural. He invited John to sit.
Across his walls ran inspirational holos of mountain climbers scaling impossibly
steep pitches, runners dashing for finish lines, and the like. Interspersed among
these were college and financial aid fliers, and a single army recruiting poster,
tucked away in a corner.
Instead of taking a seat behind the desk, Mike sat in the chair next to John's. "I
don't like putting obstacles between me and my visitors," he said.
John nodded, tapping one foot.
"A little. I've never had a meeting like this before. Paul's mother used to take care
of these things."
"I understand." Mike pulled a PDA from his breast pocket and tapped a few keys.
He scanned the readout for a few seconds. "How's Paul adjusting to his mother's
"Yesterday he got a snake tattooed to his face."
Mike raised an eyebrow, tapped a few more keys, then stowed his PDA. "I see.
Well, he has a lot to work through. The grief, the anger, the transition from living
with his mother to living with you -- it'll take a while. The best thing you can do
is stay alert for warning signs, and let him know you're available if he wants to
"Is the tattoo a warning sign?"
Mike shrugged. "Hard to tell. He's not the first student I've seen with one. What
did you say to him about it?"
"He may have been trying to provoke you."
"The thought occurred to me."
"It's natural, given his situation, for him to test his limits. He needs to know how
far he can go. But once you show him where the line is, he'll respect it."
"You know, I doubt that."