Breathed into Fruition

Submitted into Contest #123 in response to: Start your story looking down from a stage.... view prompt

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Fiction

The lights were blinding and cast an uncomfortable warmth over her, she could feel the sweat beginning to seep through her far to nice blouse, bought specifically for this occasion. She held her arms close to her, praying that the audience couldn’t see the obvious nerves take shape in the incredibly unattractive form of underarm sweat. She swallowed hard, feeling the dryness of her throat as she made an almost gulping sound that echoed into the auditorium. She looked down into the crowd, somehow, she could still feel the thousands of stares that were focused solely on her, even though she could not see them through the blinding spotlights. She took a deep breath and adjusted the microphone stand in front of her, looking around one last time, as if to look for the nearest exit should she need to make a quick escape, “G... g… good afternoon,” she managed to choke out. This is a part of being an author, you can’t sell books if you can’t talk about them, she anxiously reminded herself.

One more deep breath and a quick swig of water from the glass sitting on the table next to her chair, she managed, “My name is Belle, Belle Z. Orchade,” before she could finish her sentence, she was taken aback by the sudden applause that burst throughout the room. She fought back the tears that were immediately brought to her eyes, she never expected to be sitting where she was now, definitely not sitting on stage surrounded by thousands of people who genuinely loved her story and her writing, all those years spent in self-doubt, believing she could never make it, it was all just that, doubt. She was living the dream, her dream, despite what she believed about herself and what everyone said about her writing, too weird, not meant for our times, not good enough to publish, too complicated… She wondered if others faced the same rejection, the same criticism – by those who think they know better than you – greats like J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, or even Frank Herbert? Their books are all considered fantasy classics, setting a bar in which to beat, a bar set so high in the clouds, it could only take a dreamer to reach it.

She felt a sense of calm course throughout her, feeling the sweat creep back as the heat cast from the spotlights became a welcomed warmth, the slight tremble in her hands as she reached for the glass one more time was practically indiscernible, as she looked down into the crowd, trying now to see their faces as they clapped and cheered. She still couldn’t believe her luck, these were her fans, she had actual fans, and they all wanted to hear about their new favorite book from the person whose mind it stemmed.

“Thank you, thank you! This is incredibly touching, thank you everyone!” She smiled at the crowd – a smile that was the most genuine, a smile that could only be matched by the smile she had when she first dropped sushi on her first date with the man that would later become her husband, the day he purposed, the day they vowed to love one another forever, and the day she first laid eyes on her beautiful daughter, Evelyn, her breath of life – a smile she knew the crowd could see clearly, though she couldn’t see theirs, “I imagine you are all here to learn more about Tymidlyaen, is that right?” Another burst of applause echoed throughout the room with an audible, and easily recognized, “YES!” from the crowd.

“I am so happy to know how much you all loved my novel! Each and every one of you has touched my heart today, more so than I can ever accurately express in words, and that is saying something coming from a writer!” She paused as the crowd laughed and cheered, “This incredible support and amazing turn out is all that I need to help me get through book two of the Tymidlyaen series, of which you will be happy to learn that I have already begun work on.” Oh shoot!... she thought, she looked to her left to where her literary publicist was waiting, eagerly watching the events unfold, they hadn’t discussed the reveal of book two yet and she prayed that this wouldn’t come back to haunt her! However, her publicist gave her a little wave and a motion to continue on with tonight’s event, a speech about her, her life, how Tymidlyaen was born, and all the struggles that came from the five year long writing process. She looked back to the audience, a darkness filled with thousands of people shaped shadows, “I am happy to answer any questions you might have about Tymidlyaen, as well as book number two in her series, but first a little about me…”

She took another deep breath and a quick sip of water, she was about to tell them everything, at least everything that was important – according to her publicist – and the thought of being that vulnerable, well it was terrifying, more so than sitting in this spotlighted chair in front of thousands of people, “I’ve been writing since I was a little girl, for as long as I could read and write. I remember when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I couldn’t have been more than six years old, and thinking that this was all I wanted to be when I grew up, someone who makes people feel the way I felt when I read Harry Potter for the very first time.”

The crowd was silent, so silent a pen drop could be heard from every corner of that auditorium. She looked over at her publicist one last time and all she got back was a frantic hand gesture indicating to keep going. She could feel the sweat creeping back as the spotlight became an enemy once again, “Throughout the years my imagination grew, not out of childhood curiosity, but out of pure necessity. We moved often, seemingly always on the run, my stepfather yelled all the time and somehow yelled louder when drunk, soon my books, specifically the books that would take me away into another world, became my safe place. I didn’t have a childhood home, but I had Hogwarts, I couldn’t escape, but I could traverse Middle Earth with Frodo as we tried to restore balance and destroy evil for good, and when I wasn’t away at Hogwarts or fighting in the Battle of Bywater, I was writing, creating my own worlds. Some still exist today, in notebooks packed away in my mom’s garage, and some stories, or aspects of those stories, have been integrated into Tymidlyaen. Throughout the years, my dream of becoming a writer quickly fell to the background as the need to find a way to support myself grew. The only answer, to ensure that I could provide a life for my family – a life where they would always have what they needed and wanted, a life where my children never had to wonder where their next meal was coming from, and a life where my children would never, ever be afraid to go home – was to choose a major that earned a lot of money. I was good at math, I liked science a lot, and I loved looking at the stars, so naturally I thought, Astrophysics.

When I moved out of my mom’s, at the age of 17, I began working and saving up for college, eventually I had saved enough to finally be able to start school at the age of 22. I took my math classes and my science classes, with a writing class here and there, until I was ready to start my junior year at a real university, instead of a community college like I had been attending before. I applied and was accepted to Baylor University in Waco, TX! In January of 2018, I moved to Texas, fully intending to finish my degree and begin work on my masters and PhD, however the universe had different plans! When I arrived in Texas, I was shocked to learn that, instead of starting as a junior, they expected me to start as a second semester freshman, because my credits didn’t transfer. So, here I was in this state I had no familiarity with, expected to start over at a school that cost 20x more than my last school. Faced with the impossible, I started, again, at the local community college.

Completely demoralized and incredibly crushed I signed up for Physics, Calculus, for the second time mind you, Spanish, and British Literature. I was supposed to be completely done with my literature classes, but this program I was transferring to at Baylor needed one more class, and truthfully, I wouldn’t be here in this seat, holding my novel in front of all of you, if it wasn’t for that one British Literature class. There I fell in love with reading again, with writing again, and before I knew it, I was daydreaming in class about stories and novel ideas, and it was in that class, roughly ¾ of the way through, that I came up with the idea of Tymidlyaen. So, really, I should be thanking Baylor for wanting to make a little extra money from me, because if I wasn’t forced to start all over again, I wouldn’t have had the courage to change my major to English Language and Literature, and guess what guys, I graduated two years ago, summa cum laude, and the very first college graduate in my family.” She took a deep breath, realizing she had been holding it throughout the entirety of this part of her speech, and then she just listened. She heard the auditorium burst out again in cheers, this time not for her book, for which that was why they were all there, but for her, her life accomplishments, they accepted her, they respected her, and for the first time she let herself feel proud. 

December 10, 2021 23:41

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