In the past, I’ve shared some of what I’ve written here. It may be good, it may be terrible, but I need to get it out into the world. If you like what you read, let me know. I’ve been posting this story in installments and this is the final chapter.
Live Your Dreams (part 5)
Two more weeks passed as John continued to refine his novel. With this draft he let Stephanie review it again and he emailed a copy of it to his brother, Pete.
Pete wrote back three days later. “Hey little bro, this is really good. Where did all this come from? Glad to see that you are putting your time off to good use.”
John and Stephanie both agreed that it was time to send his manuscript off to an actual editor and to start submitting samples to publishers. At night they would talk of what should the cover art be or joke about who should star in the movie.
During the day while John would write, Stephanie was beginning to worry. She had picked up as many extra hours at work as she could. John being home all the time helped with the cooking and chores, but the financial stress was starting to wear her down. His unemployment had run out, and their savings was dwindling. He still applied for jobs but wasn’t getting any call backs. She was hesitant to bring it up with him, he was in a good place and she didn’t want to ruin that. He had been there for her while she finished school. She felt it was her turn to be strong for him.
Tuesday started as most Tuesdays started now. They slept in until it was time for her to get up and get ready for work. He got up with her and watched her leave. He went in the study and worked for a few hours. At 3:00 he stopped, went outside to get the mail before making a small lunch. He was halfway through the living room when he stopped dead in his tracks. A small white envelope in his hand, the rest of the mail fell to the floor. The letter was from one of the publishing houses he had submitted a sample to.
He gingerly put the envelope down on the table, still unopened, grabbed his phone and texted Stephanie. “I got a response, what should I do?”
“Open it silly.” She responded several agonizing minutes later.
“Do I have to? Should I wait for you to come home?” John was pacing the living room now. Excited to see what it said, but also terrified of what it might say.
“You can wait for me if you really want to.” She responded.
“Good, I’m afraid of what it might say, either good or bad.” He knew he was not going to get any work done today now. He turned on a video game to take his mind off the letter, but he could still feel it there like it had a magical power to it.
At 7:15 Stephanie finally came home. John was getting a bit frantic with nervousness. She came in to find him pacing the room with the controller in his hand still trying to play the game, unable to sit for even a minute.
“Oh thank god you’re home!” John tossed the controller down, gave her a kiss and put the letter in her hand. “Open it, I can’t. I just can’t.”
Stephanie laughed at how ridiculous he was being. “Okay, I’ll open it, but you need to sit down and relax.” She opened the envelope and read the letter inside. Her smile beginning to fade.
“What? What does it say? They hated it right?” John was back on his feet.
“I’m sorry sweety.” She began to read the letter aloud. “Dear Mr. Miller, we thank you for your submission but unfortunately we are not interested in publishing your work at the present time. We wish you the best of luck in your career.” Stephanie came over and put her arms around John. “It’s okay, rejection is part of the job.”
“I know, but I just had this feeling like things were going to turn around for us.” He put his arms around her.
“Take the night off, relax with me. We will watch something fun and cheer you up.” Stephanie walked them into the kitchen. “Now what are we going to do for dinner, I’m starving.”
Two days later, another rejection letter came in.
A week later, two rejection letters showed up on the same day.
As the days stretched into weeks, more letters would arrive. All of them saying the same thing. John’s heart was crushed with each one. It became harder and harder to pull himself out of bed each morning.
Even though they didn’t talk about it much, John knew how bad their finances were. He went three days without a shower, and hadn’t shaved in nearly two weeks. Stephanie worried everyday when she left for work, what shape he would be in when she got home. She never saw him go in the study. She would call him everyday on her lunch break and she could hear the TV on in the background.
John knew he was sinking into depression. Daytime TV is full of depressed people and people who have failed at life. However he saw no way out of it. His writing had failed. No one was calling him back about the applications he had turned in.
John was falling asleep on the couch watching a heartthrob actor talk about his latest tearjerker movie, he was woken up by his phone chirping. It wasn’t Stephanie’s ringtone.
“Hello.” He hoped it wasn’t a call back on an application with how groggy his voice sounded.
“John? Hey! It’s Tommy.” The voice on the phone identified itself.
“Tommy?” Slowly the wheels in John’s head turned.
“Sorry, it’s been a few months hasn’t it. Tommy Jackson, we used to work together. You were across the row from me until we were booted out the door? I didn’t wake you up did I?”
John woke up a bit more. “Tommy, hey. Sorry I was kinda out of it. How have you been?”
“I’m good. I was actually calling you to see if you had a found a job yet, I know it’s pretty rough out there.”
John was awake, but confused now. “It’s going okay, I haven’t found anything yet, but I’ve got some applications out there. Why do you ask?”
“Well I remember you were really good at solving some complex problems back at the old job, and I’ve started at a new company and I think we could really use someone like you. I’m in pretty good with the managers here. I think we need to get together one day and I’ll let you know all about it. Would you be free for dinner tomorrow night? You can bring Stephanie too. I’ll bring Janice. Think of it as a job double date.”
“You and Janice? Wow. Yeah, we can do dinner tomorrow night.”
“Great! How about the italian place on Main, Antonia’s at 7:00?”
“Sounds like a plan. See you tomorrow then.” John hung up feeling confused, but like there was a slight weight lifted off of him. This was closer than he had gotten to a job in weeks. He texted Stephanie to let her know.
She texted back “That’s great sweety. I told you good things would come.”
John and Stephanie walked arm in arm through the door of Antonia’s restaurant.
“Have I told you how beautiful you look tonight” John whispered in Stephanie’s ear.
“Only three times tonight, but thank you. Again. You are looking quite dashing yourself too.” Stephanie said with a smile.
Tommy stood and waved them over from across the room. “So glad you guys could make it. John you remember Janice?”
“Yes, we met after my incident with Roger.” John laughed.
“That was so embarrassing! It’s funny now, but was so awkward then.” Janice laughed
They sat at the table, laughed and exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes. Tommy finally brought them back to the point of the dinner meeting. “Now, for the reason I called you. It’s been almost 6 months since we were both let go, and it looks like you haven’t yet found anything. I was lucky enough to make it into my current position and I know we need someone like you. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks building the case for my bosses, this isn’t a position open to the public yet. I’ve convinced them to talk to you first. I think you would be perfect for the position. What do you say?”
“What do I say?” John was trying to hide his desperation, and not seem to overeager. “I say yes, what do you need me to do?”
“Great news! Bring your resume down tomorrow morning around 9:00 and we can get an interview going right then.” Tommy shook John’s hand over the table. “Now that that’s settled. I’m starving, I hear their lasagna is to die for.”
The rest of the evening was full of laughs and good times shared.
On the ride home John turned to Stephanie “Was I too eager? I didn’t want to sound desperate.”
“No, you didn’t sound desperate at all. You sounded like you were happy that a friend was offering you a good job.” She patted his leg. “You worry too much.”
John could already feel the burden on his shoulders lessening, but one thought was still nagging at him. “Do you think I am giving up on my dreams?”
“What do you mean?” Stephanie asked.
“Am I giving up on being a writer by taking this job? I’m just worried that I gave it up when things got bad. Should I have stuck through it and kept fighting?”
“You’re not giving up. At least I didn’t think you were. This job, whatever job you do doesn’t define who you are. It’s just a way to pay the bills so that we can go off and do the things we want to do.” Stephanie reassured him. “Last I checked, there was only one requirement to being a writer.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“To write and to keep writing. As long as you keep doing that, you are a writer.”