It actually hasn’t done much since last November, and as spring was approaching it started begging me to let it out and get some fresh air. Okay, whatever. I’ll let it out, some of it anyway, on one condition. It’s gonna want feedback, this thing, so I’m groveling to you now, asking, nay begging, for commentudinous commentary.
Here we go then.
[It's a little shy, maybe you could be more, well, encouraging?
That's better. Thanks.]
Here goes then.
Here we go.
Any time now.
Married at 19, divorced at 22, Kate spent her 20â€™s in a haze of work and not-work. Weekends were never her own as she was generally appointed to cover for those who had families and homes to go to, her coworkers breezily departing in a flurry of hasty goodbyes as they left for their other lives, the lives away from the office, leaving Kate alone with silent desks and papers to sort and file. Apart from work, Kate stayed home with her cat mostly, but at 29 decided that she had had enough of this life and it was time to make something better happen.
Thatâ€™s how she came to file a personal ad in the Pennysaver, the throwaway circular attached by rubberband to everyoneâ€™s doorknob so as to force them to detach it, unroll it, and maybe even read it before throwing it away, as surely 98% of people in Kateâ€™s neighborhood likely did.
Ironically, when Kate was 11 she begged her parents for a chance at taking a job. She wanted a full paper route like the boys in the neighborhood had, awakening early before the town arose, riding through the mysterious semi-darkness alone and with creaking bicycle wheels, laden with hundreds of heavy papers in the canvas saddlebags behind them, then expertly tossing the paper just so, so that it would land with a quiet plop squarely on the doorstep, awaiting the moment when Mr. Smith or Mrs. Smith would step out of their house, glance around shyly or boldly as was their particular mien, wrapping a robe around themselves more tightly perhaps, taking a quick breath of the frosty pre-dawn air while allowing that brief glance into their abode, cavelike and secure with a family portrait hung on the wall behind as if to remind them that This is Where They Are, then furtively or defiantly grasping that newspaper and bringing it into the fold of home and hearth, to be unwrapped in the ceremony that marked the beginning of a new day.
Kate wanted to be a part of peopleâ€™s lives like that, so she wangled an audition with one of the seasoned paper boys of her neighborhood. Her conduct on this audition would be passed along to the route manager who ultimately would decide whether she was fit to join the ranks of the early-morning army that fanned the town with the dayâ€™s news. She awoke early in the stillness that was 3:30 am, surprised by her own fatigue yet curiously energized by her task and by the promise of this daily rhythm and the $30 or so it would bring to her passbook savings account each month, to be turned later into something so special she dared not even think about yet what it might be. The neighbor boy instructed Kate in the art of folding the newspapers just so. Kate was surprised, as she had assumed that the riding and the throwing would be the largest part of her task, yet here they were, quietly folding and rubberbanding on his livingroom carpet, for a good hour before the papers were ready for distribution. Kate fingerâ€™s fumbled with the rubber bands, and she worried about the black ink smears on her fingers. When the hour was over there were smudges on both cheeks from when she had smoothes stray strands of hair back in her concentration. Soon she found a rhythm to the fold, turn, slide motions of the work, and felt pleased that she had mastered this so quickly.
â€œThis is an easy dayâ€, said the neighbor boy. â€œYou should see it on Sundays.â€
â€œSundays?â€ asked Kate.
â€œYep. Theyâ€™re full of inserts. Sunday funnies. All thatâ€, answered the boy. â€œThis is nothing.â€
Kate was a little deflated.
The boy instructed her to fill the canvas saddlebag while he brought his bicycle out of the garage. She was surprised by the heaviness of the bag as she lifted it to bring it to him. She could barely lift it high enough to place over the rear fender of his bike.
Kate got on her own bike, the brown Schwinn she received as a surprise on her 10th birthday, and they were off in the still, silent dawn. The sky lightened a little and she could see glimpses of faint pink and purple through the trees.
â€œNow the first thing you gotta remember,â€ said the neighbor boy, breaking the silence and with it Kateâ€™s reverie and wonder at the stillness of the early morning, â€œIs to get it on the porch. Like thisâ€, and he expertly tossed a paper sidehanded, so quickly Kate barely saw his casual motion, so that it landed with a neat quiet plop on the porch of the house they were passing. â€œHere, you try.â€
Kate took a paper and held it in her hand. Should she throw right-handed or left? she wondered. She was right-handed but the house was on the left side of the street. Well, here goes, she thought.
The paper landed in the bushes, far short of its mark.
â€œYou gotta go get that!â€ yelled the paper boy as he rode off to the next house on his route.
Kate stopped and got off her bike, carefully parking it on its kickstand, and gingerly approached the house where she had thrown the paper. Would the houseâ€™s occupants see her? she worried. Would they come out and yell at her? â€œHey, who do you think you are, skulking around here in the middle of the night? Iâ€™m gonna call your parents!â€
Kate rooted around in the bushes, and finally found the newspaper, a little damp from the morning dew still on the ground. She brushed it off on her pants and slowly walked with it to the porch, placing it very quietly and gently on the doormat. She wondered if she should ring the doorbell, to signal that the newspaper was delivered and ready for consumption, but decided against it. Instead, she got back on her bike and peered into the lightening gloom of the street. The neighbor boy was nowhere to be seen.
Kate pedaled to the nearest intersection and looked both ways. No paper boy. She rode all around the neighborhood, crossing and recrossing the route he had outlined for her back at his house. She never saw him.
She rode back to the neighbor boyâ€™s house and waited for him in the driveway for awhile, then sadly rode home, put her bike back in its place in the garage, careful not to scratch the big blue Pontiac housed there, and went in her room and lay fully clothed on her bed until it was time to be up for school, the weight and shame of failure too great to afford her any sort of rest.
Her career as a paperboy was apparently over.
Even though Kate was a failure as a regular paperboy, her parents thought she could manage the once-weekly opportunity (this is how they presented it: an opportunity! You, too, can strike it rich!) to deliver the Pennysaver. All she had to do was attach each tiny paper rolled-up to every doorknob on every porch, just once a week. Easy, right?
Kate felt foolish wearing the canvas newspaper poncho, the word â€œPennysaverâ€ emblazoned boldly across front and back as if to magnify her shame of holding a job distributing what was essentially junk mail, bird-cage lining, filler for the trash can, which held 200 thin tubes exactly the size and shape of a few sheets of rolled-up sheet of typing paper. Kate had already spent an hour rolling and rubberbanding those tubes. She knew they would likely be thrown away as soon as they were detached from the doorknobs. Her parents always threw theirs away, and Kate herself had never even read one. But for $11 a month she walked weekly around her neighborhood, hoping no one she knew would see her, approaching each porch and securely attaching each paper to the houseâ€™s doorknob. Sometimes people would see her approach and would open their doors, surprising Kate and alarming her somewhat, as this was out of the ordinary arena of expectation, this having to deal directly with the paperâ€™s recipient, and she would offer the paper shyly, mutely, eyes cast downward, knowing it would probably go unread directly into the trash. The recipient would accept the paper sheepishly, as if accepting an unwanted gift, and then silently close the door again in comment as to the unworthiness of the gift received.
Now the grown-up Kate was receiving those gifts herself, and one day something compelled her to open her weekly Pennysaver and read it instead of throwing it away as she so often automatically did, rubber band still attached.
And there, amid the poorly-spelled ads for old washing machines, broken-down mattresses, and used dinette sets, was an entire page of personal ads. Love wanted. Love for the taking. Find your mate here.
After having had an intensely torrid, secretive affair with a married man from the office who promised her the moon but ended up, after a year and a half, not riding off into the sunset with Kate when he finally split with his wife as promised but finding instead a new girlfriend entirely, unbeknownst to Kate who was told the news by one of the secretaries instead of the skulking sneak himself, Kate was finally healed but lonely. It was time for something new.
[By the way, I hate to even bring it up, but just so you know, this is all copyrighted, meaning it belongs to me and only me. So don't even think about it.]
[tags]novel, writing, NaNoWriMo[/tags]