A Dream Turned Reality

Submitted into Contest #125 in response to: Write a story including the phrase “Better late than never”.... view prompt

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African American Black People of Color

Drips of perspiration slid from her palms to the floor. Her skin was flush. It could rival the sun’s warmth. Misty eyes hid images in front of her. She blinked to bring them in focus. She wavered in her stance, losing her balance. 

“Are you alright?”

The young man who was no less than ten years her junior stood beside her, holding her up. She could hear the tiny voices murmuring in his right ear. His youthful face watched her with concern. Once she regained stability, he let her go. 

“Would you like some water, ma’am?”

Ma’am. Her eyebrows had furrowed before she noticed that her face had changed. She knew he meant no harm. She finally nodded to his question. She stumbled once again but caught herself. Looking out, there were so many faces she had never seen before. He looked around the dark area and found a chair for her to sit in. Once she was seated, he went to grab her water.

She watched the panel sitting on the stage—women who looked like her. The audience was full of an ocean of various hues and dimensions. She pulled out her phone and opened her camera. Her face had lost color. She was not her normal deep sepia with red undertones. Frightful and washed out were seeping from her pores. 

The young man returned with her water in one hand and a clipboard in another. Putting away her phone, she took long sips of water. Deep breathing in between. He didn’t leave her to her panic; he looked out at the stage. He checked his watch and glanced at her. She finished her water and gave it back to him. 

“Ms. Buran, would you like to go over the questions before you go on? It might help.”

She looked up at him. He reminded her of when she was young. Back when she was starting her dream. That seemed like another lifetime. Nights of no inspiration. Many days spent crying and dreaming of days like…today. His face read compassion. 

“Yes, I would like that.” 

They took the next 10 minutes going over the panel’s questions. She would have to take some from the audience, and every time she thought about it, her heart raced. The panel was closing with Q&A for the guest on stage now. It was time. 

Dizziness clouded her vision like mist again—deep breath in. Deep breath out. Years it took to be here in that moment. The young man had not left her side. Whether he was assigned to her or not, she appreciated his presence. He smiled at her. Then she heard the name of her book. And before the title, New York Times Bestseller, staying in the top ten for the last eight weeks. 

“Good luck,” he said, patting her back. 

She reached over and hugged him. She would never forget him. It was her first interview on stage talking about her journey.

“Everyone give a fabulous welcome to New York Times Bestselling Author Rana Buran.”

Her feet moved before her mind could think about it. The applause sounded like an orchestra. Her heels matched her pulse and forced her to walk faster. She had met the ladies via zoom. Their smiles put her at ease. She hugged the four ladies that she had looked up to for years. Issa Rae, Zane, Taraji P Henson, and Demetria L Lucas. These were goddesses that she often dreamt of being next to, sometimes unsure of how she would get there. 

Over the next thirty minutes, they asked the standard questions of a new writer. Her smile was genuine. Her nerves had finally dissipated. This was her life now. Issa opened the floor to ask questions for Rana. 

            The first question came from a full-figured woman who could have been a twin to Rana in every appearance.

            “How do you have time for love? Is there a special person in your life?”

            Blushing, Rana replied, “The first part, having time for love. I have time for love because it comes from everywhere around me. I can’t miss love when I watch the sunrise or a full moon.” She chuckled. “But I get it; I could have time for love if it knocked at my door. There is no mate. And that door is not closed. We all can make time for what we want.”

            Seeming happy with the answer, the woman left and was replaced by another woman who appeared to be in her late 30s. She gripped Rana’s book in her arms, face full of admiration. Rana knew her. Not personally. But she had met this woman and been this woman. She went to appearances meeting women she admired all the time—seeing women who looked at her that way filled her with love. She had to keep from crying on that stage. 

            The woman opened her mouth. She got choked up. Tears fell from her eyes, but she wiped them quickly. She cleared her throat and finally spoke.

            “How did you keep going?” The tears fell again. “I read your book, and though it isn’t listed as self-help, it helped me. I find it so hard to keep going. I am 36, and I feel like most of my life is gone. How did you keep going after your dream?” She wiped her tears again.

            Rana took a deep breath in and sat back in her chair. She looked up at the ceiling hoping the tears she was forming would slide around inside of her eyes. And yet, a few fell anyway. The ladies on the panel smiled and reassured her. Taraji grabbed her hand and squeezed tight. Rana finally looked at the woman at the microphone stand. 

            “That is a fundamental question. I grew up seeing black women around me being strong. They had so much pressure put on them and were cared for the least. I saw it in everyday life. I saw it in corporate settings. Working so hard and I could see the weight of the world on their shoulders. I grew up and ended up following the strong black woman standards. I kept going no matter how tired I was. I smiled and changed the way I spoke around certain people. I worked harder than my non-black peers, and I continued to get paid less than my non-black peers. I was miserable. Until one day, I woke up and said, no more. Living a life day in and day out, I was not at my optimum happiness. You know, most people truly believe no one will ever reach full happiness in life. Let alone nirvana. I decided I would not subscribe to that notion. I wanted to live a life of my wildest dreams, and I wanted to show women just like me that they could do it too. A dark-skinned full-figured, FAT, black woman. All the things society says are not aesthetically pleasing. I am my aesthetic. I am part of THE aesthetic, which is the black woman. And I decide on if I will be happy or not. It wasn’t until I truly decided my dreams were more important than anything else that I started building a path to reach them. And yeah, I was 34 when I started making that page. Well above the recommended age.” Rana laughed, looked down at the floor and back up to the woman. “Forget what rules the world places on you. Forget it all and go after what you want, what you desire. It is never too late. And if you are late in the game, remember this. It is always better late than never.”

December 25, 2021 04:38

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2 comments

Calvin Kirby
20:41 Jan 03, 2022

Vivian, I really liked your story. Also, my dear departed mother's middle name was Vivian. You captured so much in such a short story. It was very well written and the emotions of the characters came through. Keep up the good work.

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Vivian Cooke
01:32 Jan 04, 2022

Thank you so much Calvin for your kind words. I appreciate it very much.

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