Told as a series of journal entries by Dr. Curt Maxwell an unreliable narrator. Principal of a small town high school in Indiana. He runs his school as a tyrannical control freak causing troubles for students and faculty alike.
One evening, while Maxwell is working late, a mysterious young man in white enters his office. He warns him that he’s sent from Heaven to warn Curt to repent. Otherwise God will punish him in a way Curt will not like.
Defiantly Curt tells him he has nothing to repent of. “I’m a decent, law abiding man who has always played by the rules.”
The Messenger says, “Your judgment will be the rules. You appeal to the Law. By that Law you will be judged. Like every student here….Severity is your only hope.”
After the visit Dr. Maxwell collapses on the floor in a faint. On coming to the next day he discovers how severe his punishment is. He is forced to attend Northwest High School as a fifteen-year-old freshman.
The only hope for earning an end to his punishment? Following basic rules of moral decency (harder to obey than they seem) and every last rule of the hundreds he wrote down in the student handbook for the year. IF he does this perfectly he will have the right to demand his punishment be lifted.
Every time the Messenger reappears he has a checklist of all the rules Curt has broken. Despite his best efforts Curt cannot live by his own law. After repeated failures depression sets in as Curt despairs of ever getting his life back.
This is already written. Going over it one last time before getting it formatted, paginated and posted with three other e-books on Kindle, Smashwords and other platforms. This will also be out in paperback.
Like Flannery O’Connor I strive to show the work of grace in the life of one of us wretched sinners. Not sure what that hard headed southern writer of the realist school would think of it. But I’m sure she’d be happy I love her writings and have been inspired as a Christian as well as a writer by them. Different though they are from my spec pieces.
I owe the idea of this story to my Mom. When I was fifteen I was having problems in high school after we moved before my sophomore year. Too smart and homely and awkward. Mom suggested what would happen if a professionally successful middle aged educator reverted to age fifteen and were seen to have emotional issues.
The movies have tackled this but I flatter myself that this is a more realistic depiction of such a surreal, very hypothetical event. Partaking of the night dream more than the day dream.
Kafka got away with his gem “The Metamorphosis” because of all the realistic elements it contains aiding the suspension of disbelief. Yes, I owe the consumptive Czech surrealist a debt as well. Not to mention C.S. Lewis who exposed me to the device of the unreliable narrator long before I ever heard of Nabokov. (Age 6 was when I learned about this in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though not till college did I learn the term. Lewis uses this device masterfully in Till We Have Faces.)
Another influence would be George MacDonald. The last part of this book would not exist if I hadn’t read his glorious novella The Wise Woman.