From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Opening Short Story Lines: The Teacher

Here is another beginning that I left off awhile ago. See what you can do with it.

The Teacher

The day my wife found the manuscript was the day I told my class that Pride and Prejudice was one of my favorite books. I didn’t mean to tell them. We were discussing intriguing female characters and it just kind of slipped out, like the first time I told Abby I loved her. When I realized what I’d said, I nudged my glasses farther up my nose, and wondered why confessing my love for Jane Austen in front of my class was making my ears feel so hot. As I expected, Patrick started cracking jokes from the back row of desks: “Mr. Willis reads romance novels,” he said. The throng of thick skulled, broad shouldered boys that surrounded him snickered their support. In the front row, Faye rolled her eyes. “At least he can read,” she said. I think I failed to suppress a grin.
Because I taught at a small boarding school, I got to know my students pretty well. Faye Guthrie had been my student since she was a freshman, and she always sat in the front row. She was one of my quietest students, and only in her senior year would she have been confident enough to get after the class dorks like that. She was the tiniest girl I’d ever seen. I’m no heavyweight, but even I felt like I’d snap her in half if I wasn’t careful. She had wispy, light blond hair, which, combined with her blue eyes and tiny figure, made me think of fairies. It gave me a kind of satisfaction to have a tiny blond girl as the smartest in the class.
The drive home felt normal, except that I was stuck behind a big moving van the whole way, whose driver must have been taking time for last goodbyes. My mom used to call them “not-moving” vans.
I turned on the radio, and “Always” by Atlantic Star came on. It’s mine and Abby’s wedding song, and it made me smile. I was going to tell her it had played, maybe twirl her around the kitchen as I sang a sincere, if botched up version of the song, but I did neither when I saw the look on her face.
“When were you going to tell me?” she said.
Crap, I thought, trying to figure out what I’d done. Out loud I said, “Huh?”
Abby pointed to a manila envelope lying on the kitchen counter next to a half eaten Yoplait. The covering was blank, but I knew what was inside. I scratched the back of my neck. “Oh,” I said.
Steam seeped from the rumbling dishwasher. “Yeah,” Abby said. Her sandy blond braids draped over her shoulders, and her eyebrow was cocked. The sprinkle of freckles across her nose stood out when she was angry, making her even more adorable then usual, but I did nothing. Smiling would not have helped at a time like this.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” I said, and shrugged.
“Why wouldn’t you tell me?” she asked. “Did you think I wouldn’t be supportive? You’ve always wanted to write, I would love for you to be able to do that. Of course I would. In fact, I’ve wondered why you haven’t been writing; now I know you’ve just been hiding it from me.”
I couldn’t even explain to myself why I’d kept the book a secret. The manuscript seemed such an indispensable part of me, yet at the same time, something from another life. “It’s just a start,” I said. “Of course I would tell you if it turned in to anything serious.”
Abby breathed deeply. “I read it,” she said. I looked at her. “It seems serious to me.” My ears started getting hot again, and I looked away. I needed a drink.
Abby moved closer to me. She smelled like vanilla and brown sugar. She looked up at me, and her voice was low and steady. “Todd,” she said, “it’s good.” Her hazel eyes glowed. “It’s really good.”
I shifted my weight. I didn’t know what to say except, “Really?”
Abby grinned and nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “You’re going to finish it, right? And get it published?”
I wiggled my toes inside my shoes and cleared my throat. “I don’t know,” I said.
“What do you mean?” said Abby.
“It’s not that simple,” I said. “I mean, getting something published takes a lot of work. It’s really hard.”
“I know,” Abby said. “I’ll help you. I can look for agents or whatever. You really should do this.”
I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose and shrugged.

Hope this helps!
Sarah Allen

1 comment:

  1. I have started to write short stories on my blog please read and let me know if I can.


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