The Spot Writers – “Stolen Time,” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to use the following 4 phrases in a tale (in any order): “back to school,” “glorious roar,” “and then it fizzled,” “while the wind gusted.” Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, the YA reboot of Hawthorne’s original in which a girl tries to stand up for the truth in a deceptive world.

Stolen Time

By Val Muller

Rebecca had been dreading Tuesday night for weeks now. September the Fifteenth was the longest night of the year. A night of sweating and stuttering. Of uncomfortable shoes and business suits. Of mosquito-eyed parents staring her down, questioning her, ready to feast on her dignity.

Tuesday was Back to School Night.

Whoever thought of the idea was clearly a sadist. Anyone but first-year teachers hated the concept. Rebecca’s first year, she looked forward to the opportunity to meet and impress parents. She spent two weeks prior making a folder for each student—yes, all 125 of them. A welcome letter for parents. A copy of the syllabus and her office hours. Even a bookmark with a Shakespeare quotation underneath Ms. Reynolds – British Lit – Looking forward to a great year!

That had been in 2010 when her passion for teaching was new, and at its peak.

And then it fizzled.

Though parents seemed to enjoy their folders, they spent the night as Inquisitors. How many years of teaching experience do you have? How many movies do you plan to show? Why so many? Why so few? Who chooses these books on the curriculum, anyway? Why so dated? Why so new?

A haughty woman quizzed her on the spot about prepositional phrases to see how sharp her grammar was. She knew all about the concept, but her mind went blank, and she spent the rest of the night flustered and tongue-tied.

She’s hated Back to School Night ever since.

Which is why the prospect of Hurricane Hughie thrilled her. They had cancelled after-school activities and sports, just as a precaution, and they promised to make a decision on Back to School Night in the early evening. Rebecca flipped on the local news station. Still nothing.

But the wind and the rain certainly was picking up. Nothing like hurricane winds yet, but enough to be alarming. While the wind gusted, she checked the school’s website from her phone. Nothing yet. The power flickered, browned, returned. Then it went out.

The land line rang, and her heart lifted. She picked it up and answered eagerly. She knew this was no telemarketer. It was the robo-call she had been desiring. Back to School Night was cancelled. Not only that, but so many schools had already lost power—with three elementary school basements flooded—that school was cancelled for the next day as well.

Imagine that—a “snow day” in September!

Rebecca pulled on her slippers, lit a candle, and pulled out a good horror book. It certainly fit the mood, and October wasn’t too far away. Then she stretched out in her favorite chair and lost herself in a book against the glorious roar of the wind, snapping trees, upending furniture, and fulfilling dreams.

The Spot Writers–our members:

RC Bonitz: www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

 Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

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