Today’s daily prompt: Shaken and Stirred
What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco? Give us the behind-the-scenes story
Breakfast is the only meal I really cook for myself and it is not complicated, so no triumphs or fiascos.
But my mother is an amazing cook, so I got that going for me, which is nice.
If I can stop thinking or talking in memes, that’d be great…
My short story series, inspired by NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo and the daily prompt. Well, not really so much by the prompt today.
“Very nice to meet you, Connor. Call me Pam.”
Pam Henderson was a tiny woman with blonde-grey hair cut into a short bob around her round face. She looked like a Matryoshka doll with her chiffon scarf wrapped around her neck. Connor imagined her children to be miniature versions of her.
“I’ll get right down to it: we are interested in publishing your illustration series, The Boy with the Golden Feathers.”
Connor’s eyes bulged. He was already half-expecting this since he received her phone call. Nevertheless, to actually be offered the chance to be published by Dutton Children’s Books, one of the earliest children book publishers in the US, was surreal. Connor wasn’t even an aspiring author; he was just a mess.
“May I ask why? I mean… I’m very flattered but I’m not in any way a writer.”
“We are currently collecting stories from local writers and artists to be featured in a campaign to promote children literacy and art in New Jersey. The theme is ‘Stories’ and someone nominated yours. Our committee reviewed your story and thought it aligned very well with our purpose, so we decided to contact you to see if you were interested in getting it published with us.”
Connor ran his fingers through his hair, feeling slightly flustered at being referred to as an artist. “So… it’ll become like, a real book?”
He winced at how stupid he sounded.
“Yes, we will be printing around ten to twenty copies of each collected story. Copies of the entire collection will be showcased at our launch event and then donated to elementary schools around the city. It will be a real book except, of course, our intentions are not to make profits.”
Pam added hastily. “But you never know, Connor. Your story may be a hit and there may be consumer demands for it after the campaign is over.”
Connor shook his head excessively at Pam, as if the idea of making money from his story offended him. “No, no. I wasn’t intending on getting it published in the first place, it was just a side project for me.”
Pam gave him a pleased smile. “So, are you interested in participating in the collection?”
“Yeah, sure. Why not?”
Connor had already decided to say yes going into his meeting with Pam. What did he have to lose? Getting The Boy with the Golden Feathers published was his original intention. Even though he no longer wanted to send Samantha a copy, he thought it would be kind of cool to have his story published into a hard-copy book. That was the best part about being a designer, to see his work in its final published form. It was something tangible and it screamed, “It’s real!”
“One last question: are you allowed to disclose who nominated my story?”
“Oh yes, it was a gentleman named Brandon O’Riley.”
The name hung still in the air like a foggy morning. Connor couldn’t believe the name he just heard. Brandon O’Riley was Father’s name.
Father nominated his story? How could that be? That had to mean that Father was on his website, looking at his portfolio. When did he have time for that?
Father always left a stoic impression in Connor’s mind. Growing up, he was neither affectionate nor encouraging. His presence was, in many ways, non-existent. He remembered how he vied for Father’s attention as a young boy, constantly trying to achieve a level that Father would acknowledge, only to disappoint himself.
As he grew older, Connor gave up trying to impress Father. He stopped playing soccer and stopped trying in school. Life was simpler that way. He didn’t feel so disappointed with himself and Father never noticed his dissipated admiration anyways.
Then, the accident happened and Connor saw a new side to him. For a while, Father was a wreck but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t live with him. He still functioned perfectly fine at work, but Connor could tell from his chaotic den that Father was anything but organized. At least, not inside his mind.
There were the presents. Oh, the countless number of presents he sent to Samantha’s family, most of them returned. Then there were the in-person meetings, where Father and Samantha’s mother would meet up to discuss financial struggles like not being able to pay rent for the month. Father would pay it for them. It was a tiny price to pay in return for forgiveness.
Sometimes, Connor felt that Father showed more love for Samantha’s family than his own. How many times did he and Father have a real conversation? Not a conversation about school or a greeting in the morning, but a deeper talk about his hobbies or his friends?
No, Father never really cared much for whom he hung out with or who his girlfriend was at the time. That was just the way Father was.
Then, he started having in-person meetings with Samantha. The two of them would go into Father’s office and talk for an hour or more. Connor would always hear them when it was over. Father would always say, “It was a pleasure talking to you. See you next time.”
Even when he was at Princeton, Samantha would bring up Father. She would ask, “How is his case going? I read an interesting article the other day that he might want to take a look at.”
As if Connor had any idea how Father was or what case he was working on.
It was upsetting at first, but Connor concluded that Father and Samantha were bounded by unfortunate events that led to an uncanny relationship. Besides, Connor thought the two of them shared many similarities: ceaseless confidence, anchored ambitions, and an affinity to be respected.
Connor spent his childhood trying to impress Father and then he spent his youth chasing after Samantha’s footsteps. He thought he would never catch up to either of them.
Now after his meeting with Pam, it felt like he had finally caught up to one of them.
To be continued…