“When I wrote ‘Ms. Greer,’ I was a veteran teacher and a brand new mother, and I’d been thinking a lot about how the two roles compared. Teachers and mothers are both invested in others; but the payoff, the love, in each is different. I was interested in the way that, in teaching, love often exists in both directions—teachers love their students, and students love the teachers who reach them—but those mutual loves aren’t really allowed to meet. There’s a wall of professionalism and protection from exploitation that leaves the parties on both sides guessing at what they mean to one another.
“Of course, real teachers have identities outside the classroom. For the character of Meg Greer, I stripped that away, so that her whole world reflected the teacher’s dilemma between guardedness and intimacy. I thought of the action as existing in the spaces between the characters and in how those distances change as the story unfolds.
“The seed of ‘Ms. Greer’ was that first scene, where a teacher sees her students kissing while she herself is watched. I was drawn to the drama of those nested observers, but it wasn’t until I started revising that I realized the students were for Meg what she and Kyle were for the reader. From there, I began to think about the way that narrative itself navigates between guardedness and intimacy. It was only then that I figured out how the story ended.”
Elena Graceffa holds a BA in English from Yale University. She currently lives, writes and teaches in the Greater Boston area. “Ms. Greer” is her first publication.