Fate was cruel.  But then, she didn’t believe in fate.  She’d always maintained that a person’s destiny lay within their own hands.  At least, that’d been her conviction before the curse was pronounced upon her.

It started in very subtle ways.  She remembered the first day clearly. She’d been having a light conversation with a dear friend when she stopped mid-sentence because the words which had just come out of her mouth did not match the words in her head.  She corrected herself quickly enough and put it down to exhaustion.

She was teaching full time and shouldering the job of principal.  Up every morning before five, on campus for twelve hours, home to cook for family and then mark papers and prep for the next day.  She usually got to bed between eleven and midnight.

Then one day, while surfing the web for story starters for her students, she’d come across a writers’ blog.  Aspiring authors were encouraged to participate in challenges designed to improve their writing skills.  They would post their pieces on the site where others would then read them and pass comments.  She’d always harboured a dream of being an author.  Words were precious and beautiful to her and she delighted in painting pictures with them.

It took her three days to deliberate and then she clicked “join.”  She was welcomed into a fraternity of word enthusiasts and began using the hours between eleven and one for writing.  As she flexed and exercised her literary skills, so her works became tighter and more profound.  She delighted in the encouragement offered to her by others and it spurred her on to more ambitious projects.

For five years she continued at this hectic pace, catching up on sleep during the weekends.  She compiled a collection of her best short stories and submitted them to a large publishing firm.  The fellowship of writers buoyed her up.  But then she received her first rejection slip.

“Now you truly are a writer,” inscribed @metaphoraphile.  “You have joined the ranks of Dr Seuss, James Joyce, Isaac Asimov, William Faulkner.  The list is endless!  Why, Marcel Proust was rejected so much he decided to pay for publication himself!”

“Ha!” she’d written back.  “Like I would be able to afford to do that!”  But she was so hungry for  publication, she made enquiries and did sums.  It wasn’t at all feasible, so she followed the advise of her blogging buddies and continued submitting her manuscript to every publisher she could find.

The letter appeared in her post box on the same day she had a mighty tumble. The envelope was different from all the rest.  It was a C5-pocket, white with a blue-stamped return of address.  Her breath got caught in her chest.  “Badger Publishing Company.”  She forced herself to breathe and walk to the car.  She placed the envelope on the passenger seat and drove home as if she were transporting a box of rare China.

She let herself into the house, put down her bags and carefully placed the envelope on the dining room table.  She went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of chamomile tea, trying to act nonchalant.  Then she walked back to the table and sat down, her eyes never leaving the epistle.  Slowly she reached for the envelope and peeled back the flap, pulling out six A4 pages, each folded neatly in half.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and opened the papers. When she looked again her heart did a super flutter.  “Dear Ms Marston,  We take great pleasure in informing you that we would be most happy to publish . . .”  She couldn’t read any more.  With shaking hands she carefully reinserted the pages into the envelope.  She’d open it again when Mark came home from work.  How proud her husband would be of her!

With a generous smile on her face and a heart that felt as though it was skipping beats, she filled her lungs to capacity and rose to her feet.  Picking up her cup of tea, she stood up and started walking toward the bedroom.  She never made it.



Apologies for posting half of a story.  Hopefully part two will follow soon.