Monday, April 21, 2014

Dream a Little Dream ...and Make it a Big Dream

This is the story that was printed in the newspaper...along with a second part after the "waiting begins". Hope you all like it. Tell me what you think. Don't worry, I can take it. I might add that originally the story was complete with the "waiting begins" part but the editor wanted a second part, or continuation, in order to have a follow up printing. Like a series I guess. Which means I had to rethink another ending beyond the first ending. Wasn't easy and I'm not sure the second ending really fits the story as a whole plus I wrote it about two years ago so the groove I was in at the time just isn't here now. At any rate, here it is. You all (if you are still here) might remember the first part of this story from few years ago. 

Dream a Little Dream

Lee Ann Fleetwood
As the last page slips into the tray she gathers the pile up, straightens them up, and lays them down on her desk. She sits awhile just looking at them and not thinking a whole lot about anything much. For the moment the "what if" game is being silent and her thoughts are wispy things that have no substance.

She reaches over and takes the single white envelope from the edge of the desk and writes an address on it and then her own. She picks up the papers and starts to slide them inside but hesitates. After a moment she sits back with the papers and once again begins to read what she has written though she has read it many times already. It has been a long time in coming making the journey from the darkest recesses of her mind to the white pristine papers in her printer.

As each word of each line skims across her vision her mind instantly plays out the scenes of her life; the good, the not so good, and the ones she wishes she could forget, but of course, that will never happen. Some things are with you forever.

She reaches the end and once again straightens the pages into an orderly pile and slips them into the waiting envelope. Along with the papers she inserts her hopes and dreams that within these pages her future lies. That the events of her life will finally have meaning because to believe it had none is more than she can bear.

She lays the envelope down while she dresses but can't help looking over now and then and realizes the power that is contained within those pages. The power to change her life the thought frightens her nearly as much as it sparks a bright light of hope within her heart.

She slips on her jacket and collects her keys then walks over and stands in front of her desk looking down. The sudden urge to just chuck the whole thing in the garbage can at her feet is so strong she realizes her hand is already reaching out to do just that before she can stop it. She snatches it back and takes a deep breath. A small pep talk was in order and she gives it and listens patiently to it before grabbing the envelope quickly and heads for the door.

As she sits in her car she tosses it carelessly into the passenger seat almost as an afterthought. If she dwells too long on its importance she feels she will lose herself in the enormity of what she is about to do and, of course, back out while she still can. Backing out is NOT an option. Just start the car and get moving.

Traffic is sufficient to require concentration but she still manages to steal a glance or two at the seat next to her. The closer she gets to her destination the harder her heart pounds until eventually she can hear neither the sounds of traffic nor the negative voice in her head that has been her constant companion these long lonely years.

She pulls up into the parking lot, snatches the envelope, and quickly enters the building as if the hounds of hell are on her heels. She can't help but glance over her shoulder just to make sure it IS just her imagination.

She arrives at the counter and thrusts the envelope that contains her life at the surprised employee. Almost instantly she starts to grab it back as if discovering her child in the arms of a stranger. She catches herself, steps back from the counter and plasters a smile on her face to put the cautious employee at ease, or so she hopes.

“Uhm, can I help you,” he asks?

“Yes, I would like to send that by registered mail,” she answers quickly. She is pretty sure she sounds normal, at least to her ears, though they are full of the sound of her beating heart.

“Ok. Fill out this paperwork and that will be $6.80 and it should be there by Thursday,” he says as he places a sticker on her life and sets it behind him on the outgoing mail shelf. She looks at it sitting there and can't help but imagine the little adventure it is about to embark on. Once again the analogy of a child comes to mind. Her child is venturing out into the world and she won't be there to keep it safe. Her heart not only pounds but squeezes too with pain and trepidation.

She quickly looks away before the tears that threaten start to fall. You would think she had just laid baby Moses in a basket preparing to push him off into the unknown waters the way she felt.

She fills out the paper work and pays the fee then turns to walk away. She can't help but look one more time at her hope for the future lying there so innocently on the shelf. Such power in that envelope, she is amazed there isn't some sign, almost biblical in nature that would indicate the essence of what those pages contain.

She gets back in her car and starts the engine. Buckles her seat belt then turns the radio on. Checks her mirrors before pulling out and heads for home and it is only then that she allows herself to dream a little dream.

And the waiting begins...

Once she reaches home the real waiting begins. Even though she is aware that it could be days, weeks, even months before her intense pangs of labor bear fruit, she cannot help but count every moment of that unknowable future. She will ignore for the moment the possibility that she will never hear a single word about the package containing her dreams for her future and that it could end its short unassuming life lying forgotten and collecting dust in some storage room somewhere. Hardly worth thinking about so has shut that train of thought down instantly whenever it rears its ugly head.  

She gets on with the business of living her life as best she can. Working a dead end job that does nothing to satisfy her desires but pays her bills, what more could one ask for? Days filled with numerous trips to her local bookstore and library to fill her restless need to live an exciting full filling life even if it’s vicariously through someone else’s version of it. She wakes in the morning and falls seamlessly, if not contentedly, into sleep every night having managed to not let her gaze rest too long on the passing days as noted by the kitty calendar hanging in her kitchen.

She keeps busy doing lots of seemingly important things mixed with utterly pointless things. Rinse and repeat, and the days pass. Then weeks pass and slowly weeks turn into months. Turning the page of the calendar from one month to the next has become a ritual that is accomplished with a deep cleansing sigh and a mental kick in the pants to not give up, not just yet. Patience got her through her childhood of fear filled days and terrifying nights and patience saw her through a very long marriage to a very unkind man. Patience was her best friend and soul companion when all others had walked away or simply forgotten she existed. Patience had not let her down so far and she was more than thankful for that small spark of optimism in her life.

If you asked her later about the day she received the call she had been waiting for all her life, a call that started its process of reaching out to her way back in her childhood when every step she took and every action for or against her lead her through her life for better or worse up to that very moment she was meant to answer an unrecognized number, she would say it was among one of the best and worst days of her life. A life filled with a great many worst days but very few best ones.

She was on the side of the road staring down at a flat tire, already very late for a work related meeting, Her dress, torn from a grasping needy edge on the car door and a newly minted speeding ticket tossed angrily onto the passenger seat were just the latest in a day full of “should of stayed in bed” moments. By the time she answered her mobile with an exasperated frustrated sigh hissed through clenched teeth, she was already mentally preparing herself to do battle with whatever new foe was bringing even more bad news; however, the proverbial straw for this particular camel’s back was not in her cards for today. Oh no, not today. Today that camel was about to lighten its straw filled load considerably if she had only known.

“Hello,” she nearly yelled into the phone.

“Hello,” replied a somewhat hesitant voice. “Is this Renee Miller?’

She realized she needed to calm down and not take her escalating bad mood out on the poor stranger who chose to call her at the worst possible moment. “Yes,” she replied in a calm even voice. “Who is this?”

“Hello, Mrs. Miller. This is William Conner calling from Blue Moon Publishing Company. I hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time?” he answered with no hesitation at all in his voice now.

At the exact moment that he uttered the words Blue Moon Publishing it would seem the world came to a sudden and quiet end for it simply ceased to exist for her. She heard nothing, saw nothing, was aware of absolutely nothing other than the crashing thundering sound of a heartbeat that appeared to have forgotten how to function like a heartbeat should. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing at all came out. She closed her mouth and continued to live in a world that no longer existed for a few more crashing thundering heartbeat filled moments.

“Yes,” she replied again but gone was the calm even voice. This yes was little more than a breath filled release.

He rapidly started speaking but she only heard the odd word here and there accompanied by an odd tapping in the back ground. Somewhere in her mind she pictured this unknown William Conner tapping a pen against the edge of his desk, possibly with his feet propped up somewhere along its smooth surface. Words that did manage to pierce her fog filled mind included, “wonderfully written “emotionally powerful”, and “best seller”. Those two words evaporated the fog instantly and the world came crashing back into focus.

“What did you just say? Could you repeat that please?” she asked with a voice full of fear, incomprehension, and yes, hope. Hope that she hadn’t just miss heard him in the absolutely worst way possible and that this small flame of hope was going to quickly be stamped out before the much needed oxygen of life was breathed into it.  She pressed the phone painfully against her ear to drown out every other sound, including her own still thundering heartbeat. “Could you repeat that please,” she asked with as calm a voice as she could muster.

“No problem. I said that we received your manuscript and we are very excited about it. We at Blue Moon don’t usually say this to potential clients on the phone during a first contact call but Mrs. Miller, you just may have a best seller on your hands,” he answered with a touch of laughter in his voice. “We would very much like you to meet with us and discuss the publishing of your book.”+

“Really? You want to meet with me?” she asked tremulously. Not daring to believe that her dream was about to become reality. Possibly. Maybe.  “About publishing my book?”

“Why do you sound so surprised?” he asked. “It’s a beautifully written book, at least the chapters we have are so let’s assume the rest will follow suit. Could you come see me next Monday at our offices at 9:00 a.m...? Will that be fine?”

“Yes,” she nearly shouted once again but this time from within a bubble of exploding happiness. “Yes, that would be perfect.” Was it possible that all the pain she had suffered in her life, the loneliness and oceans of tears, the dark days that accumulated into dark years occasionally brightened with lightning strikes of happiness was about to finally mean something beyond she just had been dealt a bad hand? Were the hours and days and months spent pouring her grief and pain into her computer while keeping a box of tissues nearby that constantly needed replacing at last going to MEAN something beyond her life just sucked? She was beginning to think maybe it did. If it meant nothing more than her story might affect others in some way that benefited them to some degree than her life did mean something, at least to her, and that was a feeling she had needed to know all her life. The smile beginning on her face felt strange and out of place but also very good.

“Great,” he said. Monday at 9:00 it is. See you then.” He hung up and several moments passed before she closed her phone as well. The flat tire, the torn dress, the late appointment all seemed to fade away as she contemplated Monday at 9:00 a.m. and the impossible possibilities. Several cars passed by and the amused drivers were treated to the vision of a woman in her 40’s with long red hair in a blue flowery dress twirling happily with arms stretched out and her face raised up to the sun. A very odd reaction indeed for someone with a flat tire who looked like she needed to be somewhere important.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I am a published writer...of sorts. Woohoo!!

Hey, everyone. A local newspaper here, The Weekender, started a new thing in which writers' can send in stories and have them printed if the staff likes them. As soon as I heard about it I sent in one of mine (it's on this blog somewhere) and I quickly got a call from them about it. Apparently they really liked it and asked me about myself and why I wrote it etc.. At first the editor wanted me to change a few things, give the character a name and other things and then said he would print the story after the changes were made. I said OK even though I like it the way it is but it's not a big deal. He hung up but called back ten minutes later and said we decided we love the story just as it is, don't change anything. We will print it this week and we would like you to send in more stories if you have them. 

If I have them? I may have a few here and there. Ha ha. 

The cool thing (more coolness) is that they made my story into a competition by asking readers to come up with an ending for it. Actually, the story is complete as it is but he wanted to make it interactive. No matter, I am a published writer (an unpaid one but who cares). This could be a stepping stone for me, never know. 

Check it out. I'm famous for a min.