Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy: “The School Teacher's Scandal”

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy:
 “The School Teacher's Scandal”
Released: 12 May 2014
Although times are hard in 1934, rural school teacher Alice Ettinger lands on her feet with a new job teaching in town. She boards with the local undertaker, a widower with two small children, but when tongues wag, scandal threatens!
About the Author:
Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a native of historic St. Joseph, Missouri and now makes her home in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. As a wife and mother to three children, she spends her days penning her stories, substitute teaching, gardening, cooking, and all the other daily duties. She has a BA degree in English and History from Missouri Southern State University and an AA degree from Crowder College. She has worked in broadcasting, education, and retail. Lee Ann is a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Writers Guild, and the Ozark Writers League. Her multiple works include full length novels, novellas, and short stories. Lee Ann has also contributed to more than two dozen anthologies including the popular Chicken Soup For The Soul series. She writes a weekly column for the local newspaper and writes several romance genres and subgenres.
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May 1934
Her routine was as fixed as the constellations in the night sky. The moment the children's voices and laughter faded into the distance, Alice Faye Ettinger slipped out of her heavy pumps with a sigh of relief. Her shoes, handed down from her married sister in Springfield, refused to be broken in properly and rubbed her heels raw each day. Once the shoes were off, Alice pulled out the hairpins and let her braid fall free of its figure eight pattern and down her back. Then she undid her top button, the one so tight she often thought she wouldn't be able to draw the next breath. Sometimes she took time to heat water for a cup of tea and savored it before she put her shoes back on for the walk to the Richards', where she boarded during the school year. On the nights she knew in advance Mrs. Richards – Mollie – would serve cabbage, green lima beans, or stewed turnips, the three things she loathed the most, Alice ate some of the graham crackers she kept in the bottom drawer of her desk or a few saltines. Sometimes she opened a tin of sardines as a treat.
Since she'd spotted Mollie out in the garden early picking the first tender green beans and digging new potatoes, Alice knew what would be served so she didn't even make tea. After a quarter hour of hard earned solitude, she stuck her feet back into the pumps and began gathering her things. This late in the season, she didn't mind the mile and a quarter walk to the Richards' home through the greening fields and trees as long as she didn't linger until dusk.
With a sigh, she reached for her shoes. If she waited much longer, the shadows in the wooded areas would thicken into near darkness. At the same time she stood up, pumps in place on her feet, a car horn blared into the quiet.
"What in the world?" Alice said aloud as her fingers fumbled her top button back into place. She flipped her braid over one shoulder as the car, an old Model T, came into view. Although she didn't recognize the driver, she knew the passenger and tensed. The superintendent of rural schools usually made one visit a year, and his appearance now didn't bode well. Alice steeled herself as he walked through the door.
"Hello, Mr. Bartholomew," she said, her voice schooled to be calm and polite.
"Miss Ettinger," he replied and doffed his hat. "I've come on an errand, and it's not happy news, no, it's not."
Her heart fumbled a few beats. "Would you care to sit down?"
He waved his hand in dismissal. "No, thank you. It's best if I just state my business. As the rural superintendent, it's fallen to me to close some of the schools. With hard times making the rounds, I have to shut down schools with the fewest students. Harvest Moon School's numbers have declined steadily. Too many families have left to find work in the cities or to try their luck in California. When this school year ends in a few weeks, it's the end of this school. The remaining pupils will attend Spring Creek School, and I apologize but I won't be able to offer you another position. Your final pay will be mailed to your home address."
Alice stared at the man. As stunned as a bird who's just smacked into window glass and dropped to the ground, she remained wordless, something which seemed to increase his anxiety.

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