Fiction Teaser: From Mid-Manuscript

The following piece comes from a manuscript I am currently working on. It is a portion of a chapter from the middle of the story so there are some details and background that are missing. I’m not quite into the editing phase yet so be patient of any grammatical or spelling errors. I’ve chosen to reveal a little piece of this puzzle which I pray will one day be a novel. Thoughts and encouragement are welcomed in the comment box below!

Michael slammed his Macbook shut with frustration on his large mahogany desk. Writer’s block was real and he had experienced this blockade of ideas and articulation for well over two weeks. He rolled his chair backward and settled on the idea of exiting his office space to clear his head. He grabbed his black and aluminum coffee tumbler and began to walk briskly toward the third floor break room.

“Still can’t shake it?” Michael’s intern, Rebekah, asked passing him in the row of cubicles outside of his four-walled office. Her spiky black heels caused her to be slightly taller than Michael. “Let me grab the coffee this time. You should do a lap outside. I’ve heard fresh air can do wonders for creativity.” She didn’t give him a second to protest and slid the tumbler out of his sweaty hands. At that Rebekah headed down the corridor to the break room and Michael diverted his course to include the stairs to the ground level.

He stopped once the metal door to the office stairwell closed. A deep breath escaped from his lungs. For weeks Michael had been noticing the young intern from Harry S Truman College. Rebekah was no longer the stupid college girl that she had been when his boss hired her, but had become at first a friend and then a crush. Michael tried to ignore Rebekah and keep his feelings a secret, and it wasn’t until this facade of unfazed persona began that he became acquainted with the dreaded writing difficulties. Every word brought to mind the face or body of this beautiful young co-ed. He had once been quite the wordsmith who prided himself on his rise through the ranks at The Chicago Tribune, but he had found that Rebekah was his kryptonite. The trouble was that Michael couldn’t bring himself to say anything to her. She had no idea that her constant checking in on him was actually making the writer’s block worse.

He wasn’t exactly the most happening bachelor in the city. Over the past five years he had done little outside of his profession. Occasionally he would journey back home to escape the city, but apart from those visits Michael’s nose was to the grindstone and his focus was superb.

Rebekah had become the complication that he had not planned for. Everyday he would look at the deadlines that had come and gone and have nothing to show for it. His work was mediocre at best and Michael had never been one for anything less than award-winning. He began each work day opening up his laptop and typing her name. Then her name followed by words he wished he had the courage to say to her in real life. He would delete and write. Delete and write. That was the typical work day for the past few weeks.

Michael bent down in the empty concrete stairwell and laced up his new Nike trainers. He bounded down three flights of stairs right to the opening on the busy city streets. It was another beautiful mid-May day. The sun was beaming and the breeze was a perfect seventy-five degrees. Michael sucked the perfect temperature through his nostrils and for a second he relived his days as a track and field runner for NYU. Back then he had lived for this weather. It was perfect for getting the right amount of oxygen moving through his lungs without the piercing tinge of cold or drowning heat. He closed his eyes and then his feet took over. Despite the fact that he was wearing tight fitting khaki Chinos he began to jog across the sidewalk.

Three loops of the block later Michael’s feet came to a halt outside of the Tribune glass doors. He doubled over to catch his breath. It had felt so great to clear his mind and pretend that he was the carefree college runner that he had once been. The doorman opened the doors for a now winded and sweaty Michael and proceeded to the elevator for the third floor.

Ten minutes later Rebekah appeared in the doorway to his office.

“How was the fresh air?” She kept her distance in the doorway folding her arms and giving a slightly flirtatious smile.

“It was nice to escape. I think it has given me a little edge.” Michael muttered looking up over the laptop at the co-ed.

“It could’ve been the jog, but also I did add a shot of espresso to your coffee.” She pointed toward the tumbler that Michael had practically inhaled the moment he returned to his office.

“Whatever you did keep it coming.” Michael smiled and then refocused on the task at hand. His boss had asked for a business piece over a week ago. He hated to miss deadlines, but at the time he had used up his shelf of ideas and instead had produced a variation of sentences all with the theme, “Rebekah, will you go out with me?” As he typed away he received an email in response to an interview for the business piece and began to lay plans to interview a young duo of entrepreneurs who had recently opened a booming consignment shop for working-class citizens.

Relieved that he had regained a semblance of focus Michael began to jot down bullet point questions to ask during the interview. He was deep in thought when his iPhone began to buzz across the desktop. After examining the screen he realized that his mother was calling. He pressed “save” on the monitor and accepted the phone call.

“Mom, hey, I’m at work.” Michael said before his mother even had a chance to address him. This was his way of saying he didn’t have time or energy to talk presently.

“Michael, are you doing okay?” Mona’s raspy voice echoed through the receiver.

“Yeah, Mom, I’m fine. Everything’s fine. You know how it is. Lots of deadlines. Not much time.” Michael began to make excuses for why he couldn’t spare time to chat.

“I won’t be long. As you know, Evelyn’s birthday is this Sunday. We would all love to see you come around for your sister’s birthday. Simon just said the other day it’s been about five months. Can you spare some time for us this weekend. It would mean a great deal to…”

“I’ll see what I can do. No promises.” Michael cut her off.

“It’s not a long drive. We aren’t asking for more than a couple of hours.” Mona’s voice now had a bit of sadness in it.

“Okay, okay. Sorry, mom, I’m just really behind. I’ll make time though I promise.” Michael began to speak with remorse. It was hard not holding it against his mother that she had started another, younger family with her current husband, Raymond. Evelyn was born when Michael was a junior in high school. He had avoided forging a relationship with her because he knew he’d be leaving and he wasn’t too keen on her father. Simon was born when Michael was already off at NYU. In fact, this new family was the real reason he chose to go to school in New York. Distance was a great excuse to lose touch and pouring himself into his work was a great excuse to avoid the thirty minute trip once he moved back to the Chicago area.

“See you Sunday. I love you.” Mona waited to hear the three words in response that she had been longing to hear for weeks.

“Love you too, Mom. See you then.” Michael ended the call and typed the event into his calendar on his phone. He had to do a little configuring to realize that Evelyn would be eleven. He reopened his laptop and in his search engine typed, “Gifts for an eleven year old girl.”

As he was sifting through the search results Rebekah’s silhouetted figure appeared once again in the doorway.

“Mr. Robinson, I’m about to head out for the evening. My friends and I are going to hit a gallery hop in the arts district. Is there anything you need before I head out? More coffee or a critical eye for editing?” Rebekah brushed her long blond hair off her shoulder. She fidgeted with her tight black blazer and straightened her red camisole underneath making sure it overlapped her black pencil skirt at the waist.

“Have a great evening.” Michael barely broke his glance at the computer while they spoke.

“Thanks you too.” Rebekah half smiled, but got the hint that Michael was not paying her any mind. She turned to leave.

“Rebekah, hold on…” Michael began impulsively. He looked up at her and met her gaze. “Could you help me with a gift idea for my half-sister?” He pushed his palms into his forehead. “It’s rougher than it sounds.”

“Every girl loves a journal, speaking from experience.” Rebekah responded without even glancing at the computer.

“Journal? Yes. Perfect. Thanks.” Michael reverted his glance to the computer.

“Anything else?” Rebekah asked.

“No. Have a great time.” At that she turned and walked away. Michael’s heart was pumping out of his chest. He had held a conversation with her. In his mind he knew that his focus had once again been blown for the day so he began to pack up his computer and put it in his satchel. The interview with the entrepreneurs would have to wait til tomorrow.

It is unlawful to plaigarize any of the original work from The Ameri Brit Mom. Always give credit where credit is due. 

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