Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fiction Thingy and Gratitude

So, a couple of days before Thanksgiving the phone rang. Caller ID said: Purdue University and I thought, "I don't know anyone at Purdue University." And then I answered it anyway, even though these things are usually someone in a recorded voice announcing that my car's warrantee really, really is going to expire and that this is absolutely the last time that this recorded voice will be contacting me to remedy the situation (yeah, if only).

But it was a real person, whose name I didn't listen to saying that he'd like to accept a short story I sent over there. You know, an actual fiction thing that's made up and all. He stunned me into silence, the kind of silence in which you scroll through a list of names of people who might think that a prank phone call is a fun way to spend an afternoon. I think the guy on the end of the phone might have said, "Hello?" into the silence, before I roused myself and said, "Yeah, okay." We shared several more seconds of silence before he said, "Um, do you have any questions for me." I had none. I had no thoughts whatsoever. 

I wandered downstairs where I found Larry hanging window treatments. He nests when he gets anxious and so in the light of the advancing holiday season and the end of year scramble for new work, he's spent the last few days trolling the aisles at the soon-to-be-expired Linens N Things. I don't get in his way during these little excursions because nesting is the least self-destructive activity a person can engage in while anxious, and because his taste is better than mine. Here again I married up. (I also caught him watching West Side Story the other day. He seemed to know all the songs, too. Perhaps that's a story for another time.)

"Someone take your story?" he asked and then he got down off the ladder and gave me a kiss. He asked the name of the magazine and I had to admit that I didn't know. I didn't ask.
On the very next day, I got another note from a different literary magazine wanting the same story. I didn't open it because I wasn't home. Larry opened it, and he got in the car with both kids in tow and came to the coffee shop where I was meeting with my co-author. Larry knocked on the window and came in to make the announcement. He was genuinely excited and proud.

The look on his face: This is what I'm thankful for.

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