So Many Words, So Little Time
Tessa pulled her laptop toward her and took a deep breath. Her fingers hovered over the keys and just as she was about to start typing, she stopped. The keys were dirty. Well, they were actually just a little dusty. They needed to be wiped down and maybe some of the cookie crumbs needed to be removed from between the keys. That should be simple enough and only take about ten minutes. How had she ever typed on a dirty keyboard?
Getting up from her chair, she made her way into the kitchen.
“Now, where are those sanitizing wipes,” she said aloud to herself.
“In the top cabinet, honey!” Her husband shouted from the living room. It was Saturday and he was parked in his favorite chair, watching a March Madness game. So he was one less distraction for Tessa to worry about.
“Thanks!” She pulled the container of lemon scented wipes out of the cabinet and walked back into her office, closing the door. Sitting down in front of the laptop again, she cleaned the keys, the top of the laptop, and even took out the battery and blew the dust away.
Satisfied, she put the battery back in, turned the laptop on, waited for the home screen to appear and opened a new Word document. Okay, now she was ready.
She stretched and typed the first sentence: He waited in the train station, but she never arrived. This was a good start; she just needed to keep going. As she thought about what the next sentence would be, a thought struck her and she jumped out of her chair, opened her office door, and poked her head out.
“Honey, when is your sister supposed to be here?”
She heard the crunch of potato chips. “Not until Tuesday, dear. She called yesterday to remind us, remember?”
“Oh yeah. Silly me, I thought it was today for some reason. Thanks, hon.” With that, she closed the door and sat back down in her chair. Staring at the sentence she had just typed, she decided it was a little too cliche. After all, her agent said he was expecting a bestseller, not another book that would end up at a garage sale.
Taking a deep breath, she tried again. As the train pulled into the station, he knew she was not on it, even before it slowed to a stop. Okay, that was a little better.
An hour later, she had made some progress when her phone started vibrating. Usually, she turned her phone off when she was writing, but today she kept it on. The girls were at a birthday party and she wanted to make sure she was available in case any emergencies arrived. Sure enough, the name Lena flashed across her screen. Lena was her oldest; a shy 12-year-old who had trouble making friends, so Tessa was surprised when she agreed to go to the birthday party.
“Hey love, how’s the party?”
“Mommy, I want to come home. I don’t feel so good.”
“Oh love, what’s wrong?” Tessa stood up from her desk, opened her office door, and leaned against the door frame. Her husband, Charles, who had come into the kitchen to get some more potato chips, stopped when he saw the concerned look on her face and the phone pressed to her ear.
“What’s wrong?” He mouthed.
Tessa shrugged her shoulders and held up her finger as Lena answered her question.
“My tummy hurts and I feel sick. I wanna come home.”
“Oh honey, I'll have Dad come and pick you up-” She looked to see Charles shaking his head vigorously. “Wait for a minute, honey, Dad is trying to tell me something.”
She put her hand over the receiver and whispered to Charles, “What? Why can't you pick her up?”
“I have a very important phone call with Mr. Buckner in about ten minutes.” He wiped potato chip crumbs on his shirt. Tessa hated when he did that.
“Why didn't you-”
“Because he just emailed me to see if I would be available. His plane was delayed for an hour and he decided that he could squeeze me in.”
Tessa sighed as she uncovered the receiver. “Okay sweetie. I'm on my way to pick you up. Mommy will be there soon.”
As soon as she hung up, she rushed back into her office to find her car keys, coat, and purse. If she hurried, she could pick Lena up, grab some medicine from WalMart, and be back home all in the space of an hour. After putting Lena to bed, she could sit down and resume writing.
Charles had his phone to his ear as she walked toward the front door, so she nodded at him to let him know she was leaving. Just one hour. Just one lost hour of writing.
Two and a half hours later, she stumbled through the door with an armful of groceries, Lena behind her with one hand on her stomach.
“Okay sweetie, you go to bed and I'll be in after I wash myself up.”
Lena nodded and trudged her way to her bedroom.
Just as her bedroom door closed, Charles peeked his head out of his office. “Hey honey, you're-
His eyes landed on the pinkish spot on her shirt. “What happened?”
Tessa avoided looking down at it for fear of throwing up herself. “Lena couldn't make it to WalMart.”
“Oh honey, let me help you.” He came into the living room and took the bags out of her hands and took them into the kitchen.
Tessa walked into their laundry room, pulled the shirt over her head carefully, and threw it into the washing machine. Normally, she'd wait until she had a large pile of clothes, but she felt the sooner she washed this, the better.
“So, Tess, after you get changed, is there anything I can do for you?”
Tessa laughed aloud. “Yes. Just let me write in peace.”