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Gabriel tapped his foot in time with the ticking of the clock, like the pulsing beat of time was the only song he heard. Where is she? Lucy was late again. Gabriel glanced at his watch, though he knew exactly what time it was. He always did. 10:17 A.M. and twenty-three seconds. Of course, his continued inward recital of the time did nothing to hurry Lucy’s arrival. By now, he had been waiting in that barren office for thirty-two minutes and twenty-three seconds. Gabriel was a patient and down-to-earth man, whereas Lucy never brought her head out of the clouds, yet they had willingly collaborated. His thoughts trailed to Where is she?, then Why did I put myself into this? If Lucy arrived any later, she will miss the window of time. Time, he thought, we're running out of it, and she's constantly wasting it. Gabriel steeled himself. He didn't need to be angry at her, not when he was so close to pushing her bad habits behind them.

“I’m here!” Lucy’s shrill voice floated through the door before she entered the room. Her tortoiseshell glasses were askew and her hair flew behind her in untamed curls while a jumble of binders and loose papers were stacked in her slim hands. Altogether, this was one of her better days, Lucy being endlessly more put-together.

“Lucy!” Relief filled Gabriel’s words with warmth. At least she made it here at all. “Let me help you with that.” Lucy happily placed her belongings in his arms.

“Thanks! I got caught up in a bit of writing I was doing and lost track of time.” She scurried past the amused man and fluttered to a seat. “Sorry you had to wait.”

Gabriel gently placed her stuff on her desk and attempted to sort it into neat piles. “It’s alright, Luce. What were you working on?” She hopped to her feet, unable to sit still, but her mind already elsewhere. He didn’t seem to mind her excited pacing, but didn’t partake in her bubbly mood.

“Not quite there yet…” Lucy muttered under her breath, blowing off his earnest question. "Maybe if I..."

"What did you say?" He leapt up to supplement the chances of coherent thought coming from her.

Ignoring him, she focused her gaze on the whiteboard that covered one wall of their shared workspace.

Gabriel calmly stood by her side, gesturing to the mishmash of notes they had written there over the past four weeks. “I was studying the Thought-Wall and noticed several plot holes.” Before he could point out the aforementioned mishaps in development, she surfaced from her mind.

Lucy blinked, as if only just remembering he was there. “Oh, yeah, I was writing those out before I came here...it’s somewhere in one of my binders…” She began to rifle through the documents she had brought in, ruining any semblance of order Gabriel had painstakingly erected.

He placed a gentle hand on her arm, stopping her search. “Look, I placed corrections in this stack, no, not that one, that one!” She scrunched up her nose in confusion, but they eventually located the document in question. Gabriel nodded slowly in approval as he skimmed her work. “This is great, Lucy. We’re back on track now that you’ve finished this work.” Gabriel tapped the paper as he spoke, as if there was a chance she didn't know what he was speaking of, before placing the paper-clipped file on his desk.

Lucy pulled the file close to her chest protectively. “It’s not done yet. I need to add some more details to reinforce the story line”

He sighed, feeling an old dispute rising to the surface of reality. “We talked about this. In order for this to be publishable, we have to only write what is essential. This right here,” Gabriel placed one pacifistic hand on her shoulder and eased the papers out of her grasp with the other, “is perfectly concise and yet enthralling as it is. We can’t risk losing the reader’s attention, though.”

Lucy tugged back the documents, refusing to buy into his train of thought. “Wait, please. Just a little longer! Let me go back to my writing room and I’ll fix this.”

He pleaded with her futilely. “Lucy, we can’t keep missing deadlines! I’m not the one setting them, and I’m definitely not in charge. The publisher isn’t nearly as understanding as I am about these things.” Anger began to fill his typically serene mind. He fell back into his chair, running a hand through his hair, exasperated. “And you won’t even let me touch your writing! Aren’t we supposed to be a team?” Frustration boiled up, burning his patience.

"Of course we're a team!" Lucy placed her hands on his forearms. "I don't even know where I'd be without your help." Her voice was honey, pure and sweet on old wounds. "I'm sorry I'm constantly so difficult, but it's just the way I am." She smiled warmly at him.

He stared at his hands, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. The truth was next to her syrupy words, hard and steadfast. "Nobody simply can't help being as difficult as you often are. I need you to try harder."

Lucy perched on the arm of his seat. Desperation etched hard lines in her soft tone. “Gabriel, I-”

Gabriel swatted her repentant embrace away. “I don’t want another air-headed apology and an empty promise. I want things to change around here! You can't keep taking advantage of me like this!"

She bristled indignantly. “My book needs time and care to-”

“Your book? Your book! That’s it Lucy. You can keep your book. Go ahead and watch it fail without me!"He snatched up his belongings in a fluid motion and stormed out, Lucy trailing behind.

“Wait!” She cried futilely, pushing back open the door he slammed shut in his wake.

Gabriel’s voice was flat and cold. He was no longer angry, only firm, letting the truth fall upon her. “I’m done waiting for you.”

July 10, 2020 15:38

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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