Monday, October 31, 2016

#NovelSnip: Havoc at the Drama Board

#amwriting, #novelsnip, fiction, women's fiction

It's been awhile since I've shared a snippet of my creative writing project! Here's a longer bit - the inciting incident for the antagonist. If you want, you can leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Elizabeth pulled her black Mercedes E-Class into the Liston High parking lot at 2:28.  She cut the engine in a visitor spot in front of the Performing Arts entrance and watched the doors for activity.  

As a member of the Theater Booster Board, surely she was justified in her desire to review the cast list.  She’d then be able to contact the parents of the first-time actors, welcoming them the LHS theater family and coordinating their donations to the Theater Booster Fund.  She could even, after double checking addresses - god forbid any lead characters be enrolled from outside Liston - suggest carpools.
She double-checked the pocket of her down jacket for her cell phone.  Her idea was to snap a quick photo of the cast list, leave before Andrew or Tracy saw her, and zip over to Starbucks to speculate about Derus’s choices with Helen.
Elizabeth clicked open the driver’s side door and hurried out, looking left and right on her way to the theater entrance, betting that, as usual, a student hoping to catch an illicit smoke over lunch, had left it propped.  Sure enough, she pulled open the door and beelined for the bulletin board, stopping short when Alice Thompson, the arts teaching aid, stepped out of her office ahead of her.  
“Damnit!” Elizabeth thought, inhaling sharply and twisting her mouth into a smile.  Alice glanced over her right shoulder and stopped, surprised.

“Elizabeth!” she said, cocking her head to the side.  “What brings you to LHS today?”
“Oh,” said Elizabeth, as she pulled her cellphone from her pocket and glanced at the time - 2:29. “I just wanted to check in on, um, Andrew.”  
Alice smiled.  “Is he sick?” she asked.
“He had the beginnings of a migraine this morning,” Elizabeth lied, nodding.  “So.”
“That’s too bad,” Alice said.  “I’m just on my way to post the crew list.  We have a few new assistant stage managers for the musical. Their parents will probably want to be included on the email list.”
“For sure,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll walk with you.”
Elizabeth fell into step with the younger woman as they neared the Drama board.  “You don’t have to go out of your way,” Alice said.
“It’s no problem,” Elizabeth said.  “Maybe I’ll just take a quick peek at the cast list now that I’m here.  Is it posted, do you know?”
“It is!” Alice smiled.  “I think I saw Andrew on it someplace,” she sang.
“Oh,” said Elizabeth dismissively.  The two were no more than 50 feet from the 11x17 pink paper.  Elizabeth could see the “FINAL” scrawled across the top in large letters.  “He just loves being part of the productions.”

Just then, the bell reverberated in the hallway.  Students rushed from the classrooms that lined it on either side.  Alice and Elizabeth were immediately surrounded by backpacks, backwards caps, and swinging ponytails.
“I have to get this posted,” Alice apologized, weaving ahead of Elizabeth through the throng to the bulletin board.  Elizabeth followed tentatively, hands in her pockets, trying to make herself smaller.  A circle of nervous-looking students had already formed around the board.  A girl that Elizabeth didn’t recognize ran her finger down the pink paper until she presumably found her name.  She turned, beaming, and re-joined a friend who hovered near Elizabeth. The two high-fived.
Alice skillfully sidestepped her way out of the growing crowd and waved at Elizabeth as she headed back to the theater office.  “Hope Andrew feels better,” Alice called. Elizabeth nodded, her mouth becoming increasingly dry. She watched for a minute as others searched the list. The circle grew. Elizabeth knew she was running out of time, and yet she was so close. She set her lips in a line, took her cell phone from her pocket and opened the camera app.  Her eyes trained on the cast list, she propelled herself forward, lightly shoving the oblivious teens who stepped in her path.
“Excuse you,” said one before turning and realizing Elizabeth was an adult.  Elizabeth reached the circle around the board, now two deep, and cleared her throat.  Could she take her photo by lifting her camera above her head?  A quick calculation revealed that she couldn’t - a very tall Tryg Ogilvie ruined the shot. She exhaled and turned to her right, scanning for options. She caught sight of Tracy exiting a classroom at the end of the hall with Isobel Johnson.  “Damnit,” Elizabeth whispered. If Tracy saw her, she knew the ninth grader would be mortified. Now or never.
Elizabeth’s arms shook with adrenaline as she moved.  Her left hand gripping the phone, she bladed her right arm into the crowd and hooked the students roughly to the side.  Her vision blurred slightly; her blood whooshed in her ears. “Pardon me,” she grunted.  “Theater Booster Board coming through!” She caught a few frowns in her peripheral vision and, as if through water, she heard Julian Bergstrom, Helen’s daughter, say, “Mrs. Abbott?”
“Hi, Honey,” Elizabeth intoned without making eye contact.  “Booster Board business!”  Now standing in front of the cast list, incredulous students still around her, Elizabeth quickly snapped a photo of the paper. “Got it!” she whispered, and then, involuntarily, she began scanning the names for the tell-tale double-A.  She started at the bottom with the ensemble - groups of immigrants from different European countries - and with Andrew absent from that section, she began to hope, salivating lightly and color rising to her cheeks.  The students, recovered from the initial surprise of her entrance, started to move again, to crowd back toward her, some reaching over her shoulders to point at other names.  Elizabeth barely registered a finger slide into her line of vision and run itself down the cast list from the top.  Finally, frozen, she found Andrew.  And near the top of the list!  She raised her own index finger, as the students around her had, and traced back from his name to his role.  
“Inspector,” she whispered and inhaled deeply.  “Inspector,” she said louder. She closed her eyes and smiled, glee rising from her gut.  The failed auditions, the board meetings, the lessons, the coaching, the emerald fucking shoes, the goddamn make-up studio.  And now!  Finally! Andrew had chance he deserved.  Without thinking or opening her eyes, she raised her right arm over her head and closed her fist. Energy coursed through it, radiating through her knuckles.  She breathed into her belly.  Yes, she thought to herself.  Yes!  Anxiety that she didn’t even realize she’d been carrying bubbled up and out of her. “Yes!” she hissed aloud, holding the “s.” She found herself jumping up a little, her eyes still closed, and then pulling her arm down quickly, bending it at the elbow, her fist still closed.  She swung it front of her face and back from her waist, fast and hard.  Fast and hard, until her elbow encountered an obstacle, stopping it’s trajectory with a sickening thud.
Someone grunted behind her and then cried out.  She heard the movement stall. She breathed in once and blinked her eyes open.  The pink of the cast list blurred before her, and she felt the plastic case of her iPhone weight her left hand. “What the hell?” someone said, and Elizabeth turned. Melissa Young was doubled over in front of her.  The girl moaned, rubbing the place where Elizabeth’s elbow had connected with her abdomen.  Elizabeth’s mouth gaped and she surveyed the crowd.
“Holy shit,” one boy whispered.  Others looked at their shoes.  Maeve Hollister was rubbing Melissa’s back, as the girl started to straighten up.  
“I’m so sorry,” Elizabeth whispered to her, as she turned and began walking back toward the door. “I’m so sorry!” she called, louder. She kept her eyes trained forward, although she could feel the kids’ gazes. As she reached the outskirts of the would-be cast members, focused only on the exit, she heard a disturbingly familiar voice to her left.
“Mom?” Tracy asked.  Elizabeth looked up to see her wide-eyed daughter.  Tracy stood next to Isobel Johnson, the teacher’s mouth pinched in a thin frown. Both stared. Tracy finally said,  “What are you doing here?”

1 comment:

LH said...

I love this a lot.

I have lived among parents who want to be very involved with school stuff for
a lot of years. I love the way the intrigue plays out in a school setting.