A Storyby Jane Delury
Selected for the O. Henry Prize Stories, 2011
They came to Madagascar—women, all educators—to train a group of French teachers from around the island. They were housed in the living quarters of an abandoned coconut plantation and conducted their classes in warehouses still dusty with copra. By the second week, the red soil had colored their soles and the sun their faces. Though in the classroom they were as rigorous as they were back home, their minds drifted. Lessons on the imperfect, discussions of Orientalism, were interrupted by thoughts of what would be served for lunch or whether a driver might be hired for an excursion to the rain forest. They returned to themselves when a student raised a hand.