Copyright is held by the author.
“What was I thinking!” Melony cursed as she slid the glittery silver sandal onto her foot. “Good, now one more, and let’s hope I don’t make a fool of myself in these.” She thought. It had been years since she wore heels and never ones that where 3” high, and strappy sandals with no support, but man, they looked good. What was she thinking? Too late now to change her mind. The blingy, chandelier earrings were a nice touch — an extravagance, but worth it. They played off the simple navy gown beautifully. A little dab of burgundy lipstick for that touch of colour. She examined herself in the small bathroom mirror, turning from side to side. I guess I look good enough, she mused. “I hope I look good enough,” she whispered to herself. The small cottage was empty, but for one rather nervous middle-age woman. That was the life of a writer wasn’t it? A lonely occupation.
Alone, only you and the written word, but shared by all the characters that invaded your mind, demanding to be given their time. Their story would be told and they would tell you what that story would look like. She had never really felt alone. Sometimes rushing to get back to the computer to add more to their story.
She had a few moments before the ride would pick her up. She reflected on all the rejections over the years and all the so-so books that never saw the light of day on a publisher’s desk. She reflected on this last book. It was to be her last. If this didn’t make it, that was it. She would take up knitting or something. The thought made her smile, then laugh. Knitting really? The last time she tried to knit a vest, the right side was obviously different from the left.
She checked her wrap, picked up her purse from the couch and looked around the cottage. It was all she could afford for years. A small two-bedroom cottage on the outside of a little hamlet. The taxes were low and the neighbours were friendly, but not invasive. What would they think of her now? They considered her a bit of a recluse, but nice. Would they be the same? Would they still like her?
A car horn broke through the silence of the room.
She ran out to the limo, as if they would leave if she wasn’t ready. The driver held the door for her.
“Stop running. You could break a leg in those shoes. You don’t want to miss your special night, now do you?”
Breathlessly, she smiled and slid onto the back seat. “Thank you. I am a little nervous. This is all so new for me. You know where we’re going?”
“Ma’am, I have been driving people to this event for years. Finding where they live is the hard part, getting to the centre is the easy part.” He smiled. He was younger than she imagined, but she instantly liked him. The three-hour journey would be pleasant, full of stories and laughter. His job was more than just transporting people from point A to point B. By the time they reached their destination, the author would be relaxed and in good spirits.
Upon arrival, the press was busy taking pictures of the authors as they arrived. The noise of the city was a little unnerving for her, but she kept her composure as best she could.
Melony started to block out the noise and chaos, reflecting on this last book. It had been an instant success. The publisher loved it and heavily promoted it the minute it was off the press. She had added lots of explicit sex and violence carefully dappled into an intriguing plot with twists and turns and a surprise ending. The book seemed to write itself. The characters came alive in her mind. They became part of her life, talking to her about what they would do next.
A young uniformed lady called to her: “Donna Parks. Ms Parks?”
Suddenly she realized she was being called by her pen name. “Yes,” she said, hesitating. “I am Donna Parks.”
They walked into the hall where she was shown to her place at a front table. The table had a cascading flower arrangement of every type and colour imaginable. It was like a waterfall of flowers. She admired it as placed her evening bag on the table and slowing sat herself. The others at the table were in conversation, but stopped to introduce themselves.
“You’re Donna Parks?” one said without thinking.
“Yes, thank you.” But that was not my real name, she thought.
“I loved A Time to Live, a Time to Die. I could not put it down. You captured it all, the joy, the sorrow, the height of ecstasy and the depth of despair. What is your secret?”
She was a little embarrassed by the praise, but responded, “I wanted to write about life, not a pastel of life but the darks and the blacks and the reds, all the colours of human experience. The characters just came to me, each telling their story. I was reading the book as I was writing it.”
A trumpet sounded in the back of the hall. The hall suddenly became silent. The time everyone was waiting for had arrived.
The MC read out the winner’s name and pseudonym: “Winner of Book of the Year: A Time to Live a Time to Die by Donna Parks.The audience applauded as she rose to make her way to the stage. She looked elegant in her navy floor length gown with gathered short train which just brushed the floor.
While the camera zoomed in on Melony’s face, back in the little hamlet, a neighbour, Mrs. Brown, had just turned on the TV at that same moment. Brushing her apron, she shouted to her husband: “Harold, Harold, come quick. Look, isn’t that Melony Burgess, that lady across the street? You know who I mean. She bought the old Davis cottage. Look. It is her. She wrote that book that I just finished — A Time to Live, a Time to Die. I didn’t even know she was a writer.” Upon reflection she added. “You know there was some pretty steamy love scenes in it, but I just brushed past them. I’m not into that sort of thing, you know.” She lied. Her husband raised an eyebrow then went back to fixing the cupboard door. He had read the book too, but he did not even try to rush through the love scenes.