PW #413: Adult Women’s Fiction: CALLBACK
Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor Name: Laura Heffernan
Mentee Name: Elizabeth Leis Newman
Genre: Women’s fiction
Word Count: 83,000
Claire dreamed a dream of Broadway stardom, but instead boomerangs home to teach high school drama. She promptly casts a real orphan as the lead of Annie, adopts a pit bull to co-star, and embarks on an ill-advised romance with another teacher. Unless she can make the show a smash, her life’s headed for another flop.
The difference between a high school thespian and a long-term substitute teacher was, instead of sitting with drama queens at lunch, I was about to sit with faculty queens who love drama.
The teacher’s lounge was where you find your allies, or so I was told. Someone was always declaring war on teachers: administrators, parents, students, their own children. Whether you were the aggressor or the victim, Russia or Poland, other soldiers were on your side.
“Remember,” I told myself, staring at the door. “You’re Stalin, but with jazz hands.”
Hands reminded me of my ring finger, and I wondered if anyone would notice the white outline where a gold band once sat. As I mused, I was tackled by Taylor Lopez, Spanish teacher extraordinaire.
“Claire! I’m so excited to see you!” Taylor squealed as she hugged me. “Simona and I were just saying it’s going to be the best. year. ever.”
She pulled out a compact to reapply her lipstick, a bold red complimenting the black curls framing her round face. In my mind, Maple High School was the setting for a new musical, one in which Taylor played an enthusiastic sidekick to resident diva and choral teacher Simona Martin. Unfortunately, when I examined my own role in my new life as a musical, the character I most related to was a vengeful Sweeney Todd upon his return home after years in prison.
Maybe I wouldn’t mention that to parents on Back-to-School night.