Spotlight: Only Twenty-Five by Author Jennifer McCoy Blaske

A sweet story told with gentle humor and bravery.

Music teacher Meg Caldwell knew it would be difficult starting over in a new town. She’s perfectly happy with her books and her cats, but she knows she has to meet people if she ever wants to find love. The problem? Meg is losing her hair and it isn’t growing back. How can a girl have any kind of social life when she has to worry about hiding her growing bald spot?

Josh Harrter is the acknowledged cool kid of the faculty lounge – he has a classroom stuffed with bean bag chairs and includes video clips from The Simpsons in his lesson plans. He is drawn to the pretty new music teacher singing and skipping her way through the halls, but he can sense she’s hiding something beneath her sunny smiles. How can a guy falling for a girl convince her to trust him with her deepest secret?

Only Twenty-Five Excerpt

“Are there any questions about tomorrow’s quiz?” I asked my seventh grade music class.

Chris Caldwell waved his hand back and forth before belting out, “Are we gonna have to do that stuff where you play the notes and we write the numbers?!” Chris always spoke loudly.

“Yes.” I nodded. “There’s a section on melodic dictation, but it’s exactly like the sections we practice at the beginning of every class. If you’ve been doing well with those you should have no problem with the quiz.” I looked around the room. “Any other questions?”

Half the kids stared at me. The other half started packing their stuff.

“Okay then.” I glanced at the clock on the wall. “The afternoon announcements should start any minute. Do I have a volunteer to clean the whiteboard?”

The usual six hands shot into the air.

“Emily, you can do it today. Thanks.”

I walked to my desk in the front corner of the room as the kids fidgeted in their seats, waiting for the announcements. I wanted to double-check that I’d made enough copies of the quiz for tomorrow. I quickly counted them and put them in the Manila folder. Then I scribbled “review the choral pieces to order for the fall concert” on a yellow sticky and stuck it to my calendar.

“I like your ponytail holder Miss Caldwell,” said Emily as she erased the side of the whiteboard near my desk. “It matches your earrings.”

I put my hand to the burgundy scrunchie in my hair and gently tugged at some of the loose strands. “Oh, uh…thank you.”

“You’ve been wearing ponytails a lot lately,” she said, doodling a little picture of a butterfly on the top corner of the board. “They look cute, but you should wear your hair down sometimes too. You have nice curls.”

I poked at a few more hairs before forcing my hand down. “Thanks, Emily.” I eyed her face, wondering if she meant it or if she was hinting at something. You could never be too sure with middle-schoolers… After running her tone of voice and facial expression through my bullcrap detector I decided she appeared genuine. “I guess you’re right. I have been wearing ponytails a lot lately. I haven’t really thought about it.” I was lying, of course. I knew exactly why I was wearing ponytails and I was getting tired of them myself. I hoped I’d soon be able to go back to wearing my hair any way I wanted.

Fortunately, any further discussion of my latest hair style was avoided by the commencement of the afternoon announcements. The choral room came alive as the twelve-year-olds who’d been made to sit still and be mostly quiet for the last several hours banged their chairs into stacks against the wall. Those who listened to the announcements were informed that the chess club was meeting in room 205 and bus number five was running late. The bell sounded and everyone made the usual mad dash for the doorway.

“Have a good afternoon!” I called after them. “See you tomorrow.”

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About Author Jennifer McCoy Blaske

When Jennifer McCoy Blaske isn’t writing, she works as a professional piano player for weddings and other events in the Atlanta area. She has three kids, two cats, and one husband. Her TV shows of choice these days include The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidtt with her daughters and The Monkees with her 11 year old son. Jennifer and her daughters are patiently waiting for the second season of Stranger Things.

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