The Attitude of Gratitude

Submitted into Contest #222 in response to: Write about a mentor whose methods are controversial.... view prompt


Suspense Friendship


Remember to Apply the Attitude of Gratitude and Life will soon go your way.

 And send.

 Richard Salsa smiled as he looked at his daily twitter post, ensured it was shared to all his followers, -always hoping for a few new ones, and logged off his laptop  before the likes and comments began to flood in and distract him. Extending his smile , the laptop lid closed  as he  stood up from behind his desk, stretched and looked out of the large east-facing window. Posting on social media and not feeling the need to scroll was a good show of self-discipline to kickstart the day. The feeling that today was going to be a good one was strong, and his instincts were rarely wrong. Teaching the mantra enough that when you felt good, you looked good and when you looked good, the world around you worked for you he believed it. Of course he did, he mused - it worked.  How many times had he said at a seminar , or wrote in one of his books that you were not just entrapped in your flesh but the world around you but you, yourself can alter your walls. Richard, or Rich as the world now named him always practised what he preached. Watching the sky through his bright blue eyes witnessed  the sun’s rays attempt to break through the white clouds before he diverted  his gaze downwards  to the land below. His land below.  All five acres of looked after  property would have that sun beaming down on it shortly he hoped. It was indeed a glorious sight on a summer's day.  He couldn’t quite catch the large figure of Dave from where he was standing but he knew his gardener would be hard at work mowing the lawn or weeding the edges to make it look as beautiful as possible. Like himself, Rich contemplated, Dave was always early. “‘I would rather be an hour early than a minute late,” Dave regularly said to him when he arrived well in advance. Rich then decided that would be the morning social-media motivational post for tomorrow. 

“Thanks Dave.” He said quietly more to himself than the gardener.

Rich’s study or ‘Ideas Hub’  as he named it in his bestseller books  was a neat space indeed. The white square desk in the centre of the light spacious room simply had a slim black laptop  placed on it. Left of the window was one tall bookshelf, containing all his six books in many different editions, languages, and formats. A copy of Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandella, How To Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Book of Joy, The Art Of Happiness, Freedom In Exile, Destructive Emotions and An Open Heart by The Dalai Lama also all sat upright on the shelves next to his works. The Richard Saka collection contained  The Life of Gratitude, Positive and Positive equals Positive, The Internal Harddrive and Find the Love in your Coffee  Their overriding connection was that they all held the same photograph of the author on the back cover, above the blurb and the well chosen rave reviews. The black and white photograph showed Rich smiling at the camera, his clean-shaven head and face with his large blue eyes staring right back at the reader, with an impression full of interest and playful joy.  The photograph was around ten years old, but Rich was still more than happy with the image it portrayed. Excited, keen, motivated yet calm and dignified. In truth, he hadn’t changed much in that time. The healthy diet, constant exercise regime and daily stretching had so far done exactly what it had set out to do. Looking at the sky one more time, and observing the suns rays gradually finding their way down to the surface, Rich smiled and left his Ideas Hub, headed downstairs to hopefully grab a lovely freshly brewed coffee with Kate before his meeting.

“You got everything you need, darling?”

“Yeah, it shouldn’t be long. An hour tops. We’ll just sign off the deal and all good. A four-book deal on 400 up front and they are paying for the meal.” He smiled and accepted the mug of steaming coffee that she had passed him. “Thank you. Smells lovely.”

Kate’s smile must be the most beautiful Rich had ever witnessed he thought for the hundredth time over the cloud of steam that was now diffusing through the air. The aroma was wonderful.  Kate and him had met five years ago at his second book launch and since then he was adamant  he had  never seen such a beautiful smile, a fact that he continually recalled to the world in his speeches on gratitude and attitude. Rich recalled that question and answer session like it was yesterday.  He was reading out  the second chapter of The Internal Harddrive to the selected audience of sixty people and had  glanced at one of the employees of the bookstore who was presently unpacking a box. Immediately knowing she was the one. The reading and question and answer session was a success, the hour  session flew and as he was packing up his belongings and saying some goodbyes to the staff, he introduced himself to her and asked if she was free for a meal or a drink perhaps. Kate said yes, she was indeed free and the rest, as they say is history. Two years later Rich and Kate stood in bright white clothing in the Bahamas exchanging vows. It was inevitable and to Rich it was perfection.

“But “Kate continued, ensuring her dark hair was still in a tight ponytail, “Didn’t that Merchant guy insist on some negotiations. You don’t think he’s going to be a problem?”

Rich glanced at his wife, the sweat dried on her face but still wet in her hair. Her gym clothes clung tight to her and always when she had finished exercises Rich understood the term ‘glowing’. He glanced at the swoosh emblazoned on her chest and wondered if the logo looked this good on anyone else.

“Don’t worry about that, dear.” Taking  another sip of coffee he looked at her over the steam, savouring  the beautiful bitter blend and its powerful soothing aroma. “I don’t think he’ll come. I think it will just be Matt and I.”

“Fingers crossed he doesn’t. He always makes these meetings difficult, “she said and leaned over through the steam and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “You know best.”

“Americana please. Oh, and a flat white for you Matt?”

“Yes please. Thanks Rich.” Matt replied and smiled back at the waitress as they  continued their conversation. The two men sat at the table in the Ivy restaurant, the colourful deco and upbeat music reflecting both their moods and their appearance.  Although both mid-forties and the same approximate height, Matt’s hair was black, thick and curly, a contrast to Rich’s clean shaven smooth head.

“Well, that’s it then. Four more books in the next three years and let’s hope they will be as popular as the others. I’m sure they will be.”

“Thank you, Matt”, Rich replied shaking his hand. “I know Mr Merchant would have made the deal a little tougher, but I sure hope he’s okay.”

Matt smiled back at Rich, his hair bouncing slightly independently from his face. “Oh, he will be. Strangely he has been in great shape for months now but somehow managed to catch a bug or something.  He  got bad stomach cramps this morning he said in his texts.  Came out of nowhere. He did send his sincere apologies. He hates missing meetings. Remember the last time we were meant to meet he  had the same problem? Probably all that fine dining.”

The men shared a laugh and looked forward to their upcoming caffeine hit. 

Rich noted that the suns rays did not only manage to break free from the shelter of cloud but stayed out for the remainder of the afternoon basking the ground with glorious light. The thought made him smile as he sat in his hotel room, three hours after his beautiful black strong coffee with Matt. His hand written notes for tonight’s talk were spread out on the king-size bed as  he mouthed the speech he had prepared. The talk was named Luck is in your Life  and the hour-long seminar was based around his belief that with the right attitude, you can make the right decisions, hence feel that luck is driving you forward which produces more good feelings. With these feelings the world is simply a better void to inhabit. The Feeback Loop of Brilliance, he tended to call it.

Rich loved preparing in this  modern stylish hotel room. Although the college in which he was presenting was only ten miles from his home, his agent insisted on booking the room before the talk. Gemima has been Rich’s agent for the last four years and was permanently on call. Reflecting on tonight’s talk he was grateful that he had such a kind, giving and wonderful woman for his agent. No stone was ever unturned and her work rate was simply  second-to-none. Calenders always up to date, communication always precise and accurate, problems in scheduling minimised. She was forever punctual. Her and Dave would make an unstoppable team if they knew each other, and Rich laughed quietly at the thought. Three years ago, an unfortunate accident involving Gemma, her husband and a kitchen knife potentially could have got her in major trouble, but Rich and some of his team had managed to calm the waters and the situation, like most moments in time had settled. Thankfully for Gemima time had smothered the incident from most memories. Since then, Gemima would bend over backwards to accommodate  Rich, including bagging the spacious hotel room before the gig. Gemima’s husband unfortunately had made life hard for several months for her after the incident. As Gemima, Rich and the publishers began to worry about standards and repuatations, her husband had met his untimely death in a freak scuba diving accident. Again, Rich was eternally grateful for the cards that he had been dealt. The publishers relaxed,  the gossip died down, Gemma focused on work and everyone was productive, Gemima was indeed a godsend.

The sky was dark as the moon stuck under cover of some clouds just before 11pm. “Hi, honey I’m home.”

Rich stepped through the door and was welcomed by Kate, sitting on the sofa watching a late-night movie, now out of her sports gear and sporting a red dressing gown.  She picked up the remote control, lowered the volume and asked, “How was it?”

Rich smiled. He reflected at the full room, the audience hanging on his every word. He thought back on looking out to the crowd, watching as Gemima with her bright red hair and thick glasses smiled, preparing to get the books for signing out of the box and swiftly sold. He grinned  as he watched Matt drink coffee from his oversized travel-mug, standing next to Gemima, happy with the sales that were soon to be made.

“It was great Kate, let me just wash my face and I’ll be down to join you.”

“Great.” Kate smiled as Rich walked upstairs.

Instead of taking a left to the bathroom, Rich took a right to his Ideas Hub. He opened the door, walked in, and closed it thoroughly behind him. 

He removed the Dalai Lama collection  from his book shelf, stacked them neatly on his desk and removed a box that sat previously unseen behind them. The box was black, no larger than an average sized tool kit. Placing the box on his desk, he glanced to the closed door again, reached into his trouser pocket, retrieved a small silver delicate key and then gently unlocked the box. Lifting the lid, he looked down into it. Facing him were eight small hand-crafted figurines. The one with the red hair had a plastic knife next to her arm. Delicately moving  the knife ever so slightly from her hand. Rich carefully removed a figurine which was slightly larger than the rest and gently removed the pin from its stomach. He then placed it carefully back in the black box, the pin next to it. Closing the box, he recalled bringing one in the bath with him  all these years ago, smiling as it was submerged under the water. Another, he recalled throwing out of the bathroom window when Kate wasn’t home. He remembered exactly the time when he placed two figurines laying down next to each other, a bald one and a slighter smaller one with black hair. He ensured ever time he opened the box that they did not move.   He did not want to be lonely. The thought filled him with uncontrollable fear.

“Coming dear.” He shouted as he carefully lay the box back on the shelf with the spiritual leader of Tibet’s book back in front of it. “Just coming down now, dear.”

He was indeed grateful for all that he had been given. He sure did apply the attitude of gratitude to his own circumstance and well damn it  life was indeed good.

November 02, 2023 09:22

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Michał Przywara
21:56 Nov 08, 2023

An interesting twist! The story seemed a bit too chipper, a bit too positive, and we learn, it seems, that there's more going on under the hood than initially appears. Rich is right to be grateful, for it seems the universe has given him an unparalleled - and perhaps unfortunate - gift. Critique-wise, there did seem to be some minor typos, like Gemima/Gemma, and I think some of the paragraphs could be broken up more - particularly the intro. I do like what the figures represent though - it's a very literal take on how a successful person mi...


Pete K Mally
08:55 Nov 14, 2023

Thank you so much. That is really, really useful.


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