“Are you sure you want to do this?” Walsh asked.
I shook my head. “Of course I’m not,” I answered, “but I have to.”
He nodded and pushed the bundled stack of papers to me. “What are you going to say to him?”
Running my hands over the papers, I shrugged my shoulders.
“You haven’t given it any thought?”
“Oh, I’ve given it thought. A lot of thought actually. I just don’t know what I’m going to say.” I stared at the papers. They were wrapped in plain white paper and looked as if it was just a ream of printer paper, but it was more than that, it was the novel I had cranked out in less than a month. It was the novel that Stellan had inspired. It was the novel that was perhaps going to revive my writing career and it was all because of him. “Every sentence I’ve put together in my head just sounds trivial and stupid. It’s as if I went to the nearest card store and memorized the first card I came across.”
“Say what’s in your heart.”
“There’s a big hole where my heart use to be so I’m not sure that’s the right advice I should go with.”
I knew he was growing weary of my woe is me act. He never said it to me, but I knew. He was just biting his tongue and trying to be a kind older brother. He was good like that. He let me feel what I was feeling and supported me in silence.
“Then say what you’re feeling.”
I looked up at Walsh and sighed. “I love you and I’m sorry might not cut it.”
“I know I’ve asked you before, and this is the final time I will ask, but are you sure that really love him?”
I nodded. “Without a doubt. I love him as much as Dad loved Mom.”
“Then why are you sitting here in front of me instead of standing in front of Stellan.”
“I’m scared of rejection,” I answered.
“You? Scared of rejection?” Walsh shook his head at me. “You have thousands of rejection letters from dozens of agents and editors. Shouldn’t you have a hard exterior that lets rejections bounce right off of you?”
“When it comes to writing yes, but when it comes matters of the heart or matters of life, rejection still stings. Worse than getting your dreams dashed by a letter saying you suck.”
# # #
When I left Walsh’s office, I didn’t go straight to Stellan’s house. I, of course, had a list of errands I needed to run first like getting my car washed, finally returning a shirt I had bought four months before, stopping for coffee on the complete opposite side of town where he lived, and the list when on and on.
After I had purchased my coffee, I took the longest and most scenic route to Stellan’s. I obeyed the speed limits, stopped at crosswalks, and slowed down if I thought the light was going to turn yellow. I knew I was putting off the inevitable.
I didn’t have liquid courage helping me.
I didn’t have caffeinated and over sugared coffee helping me.
I only had my words and myself.
If this had been a scene in any of my books, I would have been able to script the most eloquent and perfect prose to accompany my characters. In reality, I couldn’t have strung two complete and intelligent sentences for myself. I had no game plan, no plan b, and I had no words.
I was fucked.
Entering Stellan’s neighborhood, I drove towards his house and continued right on by it when I saw his car sitting in the driveway. I gave myself a tour of the neighborhood, driving up and down various roads until I was completely lost and had to backtrack to find my way to familiar ground. I drove by his house again and saw his car still sitting in his driveway.
I glanced at the clock on my car radio and sighed. Why was Stellan at home and not at work? I racked my brain for answers, but no smart answers came to mind. Though I was quite partial to the theory of he was so devastated after seeing me, that he had just decided to become the modern day male version of Miss Havisham. My luck though, he had a day off and was spending it with the harem of women my mind had imagined for him.
My mind was not my heart’s friend at the moment.
They were in fact, not even speaking to each other.
I flipped my turn signal on, drove out of Stellan’s neighborhood, and drove through the neighborhood next to his to collect my thoughts and to gather my nerves.
“You can do this,” I said to myself. “Knock on the door and say hello. No tears.” Glancing at my reflection in the rear view mirror, I repeated, “No tears.” I repeated this mantra for another ten minutes and then drove myself back out of the neighborhood.
“Deep breaths,” I said out loud. “Breathe in. Breathe out. You can do this.”
Pulling into Stellan’s driveway, I parked behind his car and felt my emotions lodge in the middle of my throat.
“Not going to cry. Not going to cry.” I moved as slow as I could to avoid getting out of the car. When I realized I had nothing else to do but get out of the car, I took another deep breath, grabbed the wrapped novel, and climbed out of my car.
Snails actually crawled faster than I had walked up Stellan’s walkway. When I reached the front door, I inhaled, hesitated, and then knocked. I waited for what seemed like forever and then exhaled. I walked to the table that sat on the porch and put the novel down on it.
Sitting on the edge of one of the chairs, I dug through my purse for a pen. I stared at the white wrapper and wrote Stellan’s name on it. If I didn’t know what I was going to say to him, then I sure as hell didn’t know what I was going to write to him.
Say what’s in your heart and how you feel.
I sighed and began to write.
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is an excerpt of the rough draft and not the final version