Once a month over the summer, we will be presenting a short story from a LuHi AP Lit student. This Saturday's story is by Kenzie Oreskovich, class of 2017.
I stood in front of the door, adjusting my gloves and my motivation while staring out of the glass window pane. The light fog that normally hung over Charles River was now so opaque that I couldn't see across it. Seeing wasn't necessarily the issue, since I had ran my normal route over fifty times and know it by foot and by heart. The issue is how wet and heavy I would get with the added humidity. Without any more contemplation, and a determined adjustment of my glasses, I pushed through the door. I had concluded since I was already up and dressed, standing around thinking about how difficult the run would be was a waste of time. Besides, I had run in cold and wet weather before.
Mornings were always cold and wet in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I knew this because I went for morning runs everyday. Despite having seven years to acclimate I don't think I will ever get used to it. Since I moved here from Colorado, I have learned that I can deal with cold, but humidity is my kryptonite. I vividly remember the wall of frigid humidity that I walked into coming off the plane. When I moved here to attend Harvard University to get my masters in literature, I was optimistic. This would be the beginning of my career as a writer!
“Well thanks for waiting for me!”
I glance over my shoulder to see a blond-haired boney boy sprinting to catch up. In my silent reverie I had completely forgotten to wait for my best friend, Benjamin Clyde, who had left his lucky earmuffs in his dorm room.
“Sorry,” I replied with a guilty readjustment of my glasses, “I guess I'm not use to having a running partner.”
“Well, I'm not use to getting up and running this early! What possesses you to go running in the cold every morning?”
“It helps me think. I guess you could say it ‘jogs’ my creative mind,” I say with an exaggerated wink and an elbow nudge.
He groaned and rolled his eyes to the fog above. “Why am I friends with you, Jordan?”
“Because I am hilarious and you need me to write your essays,” I answered.
“I'm not sure about the first, but you’re right about the second. Hey, speaking of writing, how's that story coming?”
“Great, I'm almost finished,” I say with a wide grin.
With an elated gasp he replied, “So does that mean I can read it now?”
“No, like I have said a hundred times before. Not until it's finished!”
Ben maneuvered in front of me so he was running backward, pinched his frozen finger and thumb, and waved them in my face saying, “I am about this close to just stealing your notebook.”
“That’s if you can find it,” I say as I ran around him and bolted back to the dorm.
“Throwing the gauntlet down now, are we? Challenge accepted!” Ben yelled out to me as he tried to catch up.
Leaving Ben in the dust, I shuffled frantically around my dorm, trying to hide my notebook where I put all my epics and poems. Groping for it in the depths of my backpack I finally got hold of a familiar rectangular shape. Once firmly grasped, I ran to my bookcase and wedged it between Invisible Man and Warriors Don't Cry, since I knew he wasn't going to be reading those books anytime soon. Once satisfied with my hiding spot I turned around and began to act natural. At that moment Ben burst through the ajar door, panting and glancing around the room.
“Good luck finding it,” I said with a mischievous grin.
I collected my things and headed for the bathroom to get ready for class, completely confident in my hiding spot, leaving Ben confused in my dorm room. I figured that even if he finds it, the story is close enough to being finished that I wouldn't mind.
Classes flew by like a rabid horse trying to win the Kentucky Derby. I had not seen Ben all day since we have different classes. At the end of mine, I found myself apprehensive to get back to my dorm room. Had Ben found the notebook? Did he read the story? Is it good? I didn't want to know, yet I did.
I hurried back to my dorm, my breath suspended in my throat. The notebook was gone along with Invisible Man and Warriors Don't Cry. So he had found it, but why had he taken the other books too? Classes were long since over so I decided to visit Ben’s dorm room.
Why am I tense? Famous writers don't get tense, do they? I have heard of writer's cramp or writer's block, but writer’s tension?
I knocked on Benjamin's door.
I heard paper rustling and feet shuffling before the door swung open.
Right as he recognized me he said, “I just finished reading your story.”
I nod my head emphatically, “And?”
“Jordan, you needed to be a published author yesterday. It was great, and that is big coming from me since you know I'm an avid reader.”
I released the breath I kept caged in my chest. “Really? Thanks.”
“No problem. Actually, can I show this to my dad? He is the CEO of a book publishing company and I think he would really like what you wrote.”
I nervously adjust my glasses up the bridge of my wide nose. “If you think it is that good, then yes. That would be really great for me since I want to be a famous writer.”
“Great! I’ll let him know,” he exclaimed, “Oh! Could I borrow Invisible Man and Warriors Dont Cry? I've suggested them both to my dad but I don't have any copies of my own.”
“Sure,” I said, but wasn't completely aware of it. All my thoughts were buzzing around my head, making everything else fuzzy. This was real. I was going to become a published author. The thought was invigorating, yet difficult to process.
For the following week I was riddled with worry. What if Ben is just being nice? What if his dad doesn't like it? What if his dad completely forgot about it?
I received a letter in the mail that night:
“Jordan Phillips, my son has showed me your piece and I am impressed with your work. I would like to meet you in person to come to an agreement concerning a possible business relationship. We will also discuss any other works you wish to publish. Please meet me at my office for a formal interview at 5:00pm this Saturday. – Daniel Clyde, CEO of Clyde Publishers”
If it weren't connected to my head, my jaw would've fell and hit my toes. I was in shock. A publisher liked my work. My life was unfolding right in front of me. In two days I was going to have an interview that could change my life forever!
The morning before the interview, I looked out my dorm window and saw that bucket size droplets of rain gushing out of the sky. There would be no morning run today. I sat down on my bed with notebook in hand, intending to write, but nothing came to my mind. I thought about meeting up with Ben, but remembered he had a date with his girlfriend. I glanced at the hole in my bookshelf where two books once stood, hoping that Mr. Clyde was enjoying them. Thinking of Mr. Clyde made me nervous so I continued to watch the rain pour outside my window.
The clock on my desk read 3:00pm and I decided to get ready, more out of pent up nervous energy than necessity.
Despite it being Saturday, I was dressed in my Sunday best. I began to make my way to the Clyde Publishers building and got there thirty minutes early. I checked in with the the secretary at his desk and he kindly invited me to have a seat while I waited.
Glancing around the waiting room I saw tall men and women in expensive suits coming and going. In that moment I have not felt more out of place in my life, like a dark mole surrounded by perfect ivory skin. I saw disgusted and confused glances shot at me like I truly was a revolting blemish that didn't belong there.
Daniel Clyde hastened through the waiting room to his office, speaking quickly to his secretary. “I only have forty-five minutes before my next meeting. Where is that young man from Harvard. Is he here yet?”
The secretary made an apologetic nod at me, “Yes sir.”
Washed over with a wave of embarrassment and frustration, I rose from my seat.
He watched me rise and he stammered over the words he was about to utter. With shock and confusion etched into the lines of his face, he hesitantly invited me into his office. I couldn't help but recognize two books that were pushed toward the edge of his desk, already covered in a thin layer of undisturbed dust.
Mr Clyde lifted his quivering hand toward me. “My sincere apologies. When my son mentioned you to me and when I read the name ‘Jordan Phillips’, I was not expecting a black woman like yourself.”
Ignoring his outstretched hand, I removed my glasses slowly, looking him in the eyes, “Sir, who exactly were you expecting?”
His shifty eyes and gaping mouth answered the question for me. I decidedly left without another word.