Elevator

Elevator

By: Tony Ortiz | January 19th, 2017

 

 

Honey guess what, Angela said.

 

What? Asked Daniel.

 

You got another letter.

 

Another rejection, you mean?

 

C’mon, don’t say that.  Be positive.  Besides, I have a good feeling about this one.  Here open it.

 

         Angela handed Daniel a letter that came in the mail, from one of the dozens of Agents and Publishing houses that he submitted his latest manuscript to.  Most of them never responded.

 

I guess you’re right, he said as he started to tear it open.  Maybe the 16th time is the charm right?

 

Mommy? - Their child’s voice said from his bedroom.

 

Shoot.  Let me go make sure he’s ok.  But open it, open it.  I’ll be right back.

 

         Daniel slid the tri-folded letter out of the envelope and began to read as his heart rate began to elevate:

  

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dear Author,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your manuscript. We read it with interest but I regret we will not be making an offer of publication. We do not feel that it is the right fit for our publishing house.

Thank you for thinking of us, and we wish you every success in finding a publisher for your work.  Keep on writing.

Yours sincerely,

Rough House

 

He’s fine, he just wanted his stuffed whale.  So?  What they say?

 

They said that the 17th time might be the charm, responded Daniel.

 

Awe, babe.  I’m sorry.  Come here, she said as she wrapped her loving arms over his shoulders and gave him a kiss.  I love your writing … and I hate reading, so if you can pull that off, they’ll wise-up eventually.

 

Thanks babe.  I’m not sweating it.  I mean, J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times before she got published.   

 

See, so no need to worry. 

 

And Jack Canfield with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series had a whopping 140 rejections.

 

Lets try and keep it on the lower end of that spectrum, she said smiling. 

 

I’m not worried.  It is what it is, I just need to work harder and get better.

 

Good attitude babe.  Just make sure you don’t beat yourself up though.  As it is you wake up early, go to sleep late & work weekends.  You can’t kill yourself either. 

 

What do you think about me starting to write full time?

 

If we could afford it, that would be great.  But we can’t.

 

I know we can’t right now.  I’m not just going to quit my job.  I meant if we actively save for it.  Plan for it.

 

We barely make it out ahead of our mortgage and bills each month as is.  What are we going to be able to save?  Be realistic.

 

I’m just sick of my job Angela.  So much that it’s frustrating me to the point of affecting my writing time. 

 

So change your job.  I don’t know; maybe get a job in something writing related.  Or I can go back to work but we discussed this.  Most of my pay would be going to the stranger that would be raising Carlos. 

 

I know, I know.  I just feel like I have to get away from everything and really give it an honest go.    

 

We have a two-year old in the other room and you're asking me this now?  What are you running from?

 

What are you talking about?  I’m not running from anything.  I’m still putting in 50-60 hours per week aren’t I?  It just feels like I’m climbing 2 rungs up and 1 down the corporate ladder.  C’mon, you know how I feel about writing full time.  How I've always felt about it.

 

And you know I've always supported your dreams. All the nights and weekends when I felt I didn't exist while you were typing away our companionship. But this is different.  We have a baby now. You can't just quit your job to follow some dream.  Be real. 

 

Some dream?  First of all, the writing in and of itself is my dream yes, but what I'm striving for is ours.  More family time.  The Independence to live where we want.  Travel when we want.  And best of all not having to rely on some corporation that utilizes me no differently than a copier uses its paper tray.  I’m a functional piece of equipment, in human form.   You know this isn't just coming out of the blue. I've been doing the responsible thing and burning the candle on both ends, for years. 

 

I know and I've been with you every step of the way, remember?  Your timing just couldn't be more wrong. 

 

There will always be reasons not to do it. Reasons why I shouldn't start writing full time.  And I won’t do this if you’re not on board but think about it … how much longer should I keep letting those reasons win?

 

What if you don't make it?  What if your sales don't go up?  What then?  Is it worth not being able to put food in your baby's mouth?  How about the health insurance?  We can’t be impulsive about this, Daniel.

 

Since when do you know me to be impulsive?  I never said I was going to quit next week.  Just that I wanted to gear up and plan for doing so. We have to work all that out beforehand.  We can go on public insurance.  We have some savings.  I'm not saying it would be easy but there are answers.  Alternatives.  They may take 6 months or a year or even more to establish.  Just think about it will ya.  I gotta go, I'm running late. We’ll speak about it more at dinner. 

 

         He leaned in and gave her a kiss goodbye. 

 

I don't think there's anything to think about she said.

 

Don't be irrational. We’ll speak later. I love you.

 

         Daniel left and walked four blocks towards his reoccurring hour-long journey that takes him from his home, to the bus that then transfers him to the train that takes him into the city and his 9-5.

 

         Back home his wife was watching cartoons with the baby and she focused in on a bit of dialogue:

 

         I don't ever want to be a grown up!

 

         Why is that Molly?

 

They never have time to have fun! It's always work, work, work.  And when they're not working they're too tired to play with me!

 

Well Molly, grown ups have to work so that they can be able to feed you, clothe you, and buy you the toys you want.  One day you’ll be a grownup and you'll enjoy working to provide for your kids.  That's what family’s all about.

 

Some playful background music chimed in as Molly broke out into a song and dance routine.

 

Being a grownup isn't always what it seems.

When I grow up, I'm gonna dream.

 

Having to work is over rated, so when I   grow up, I'm gonna dream.

 

We’re going to play all day and enjoy or snacks and even look forward to taking naps!

When I grow up, I'm gonna dreeeam.

And I'll never lose sight of what it means.

 

You know what Molly? You might be right, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if grownups dreamt every once in a while.

 

         Angela looked at her baby boy and asked: you're going to follow your dreams aren't you Carlito?

 

         Daniel missed his stop on the train because it was so packed that he couldn't get to the door on time before more people rushed in and the doors closed behind them.  During rush hour, if you're not strategically positioned within the train car, you have to develop quartz-like timing, along with an elite acrobatic ability to get past the book bags, baby strollers, and people that either aren’t paying attention or just don’t give a fuck that they’re in the way.

 

         After a long day of work that included about 4 cups of coffee, the deli giving him the wrong over-priced sandwich for lunch (he hates tuna), his shirt ripping on the elbow from rubbing it on his desk and about an hour of unpaid overtime … he headed home.  The subway platform was so full when he got there, that he had to stand half-way up the staircase and just wait until enough trains passed by to alleviate the amount of people.  Four trains came and went by the time he was close enough to squeeze into the crowded fifth one. There he was stuck between a teenager blasting some god-awful music through his headphones, and a mouth breather with subpar personal hygiene.  The train stopped on five separate occasions in between stations, due to train traffic ahead.  He eventually made it above ground and to his stop.  He checked his phone and his wife had text him:

 

‘Everything ok babe’?

He responded: ‘Yea.  Train was packed and delayed.  Just got above ground.  About to wait for the bus.  Start eating dinner without me.  Love you.’

 

         Angela waited for him to arrive and then warmed up dinner for them both while Daniel settled in and spent time with Carlos.  Even though he insisted, she never liked eating alone.

 

Dinner’s ready, said Angela.

 

Let’s go eat buddy, Daniel told Carlos.  Then we’ll play, ok?

 

Ok daddy.

 

         Carlos hopped up and into his high-chair, as they sat at the dinner table.

 

Long day huh?  Angela said.

 

Yea babe, but it is what it is.  The train was just OD backed up.  You should’ve seen that platform.  It was like a sea of people.  I literally had to stand on the stairs and wait for it to empty out enough for me to get closer.

 

Damn, I’m sorry Hun. 

 

Dinner looks great though, thanks sweetie.  Eat your food buddy, if not then no playtime.

 

I was thinking about what you said earlier Danny, said Angela.

 

Yea me too actually, and I’m sorry I even brought it up.

 

No, I’m glad you did.  Don’t be sorry about that.  We should always be able to speak our minds and express what we’re feeling to each other.  No matter what.  Warts and all.  If we can’t be vulnerable with each other, then who can we be that open with?

 

Yea I guess.  But it is way too risky of a thing to think about now.  Maybe when Carlos goes into school and if you decide to go back to work, maybe then we can revisit it.  In the meantime, I’ll focus on getting better.  Quality can't be denied. That’s where my focus needs to be.  

 

That is a way to go but if you want to figure something out, I’m with you babe.  Like, if we cut back on everything for a while like dinners and movies, save up a few months worth of bills and then give it a shot.  Or any other way that we can make it happen sooner.  I won’t ever be able to forgive myself for stopping you from chasing your dream.  And I know you could do it.  Without a doubt I do.  I support you and am willing to do anything I can from my part because like you said, it’ll lead to our dream life and more importantly it’ll show Carlito that he can truly be anything he wants to be.

 

I really appreciate that sweetheart.  But honestly the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with what you said this morning.  I mean, you know the responsible side of me wouldn’t ever let me do it without having an established, ironclad backup plan and nest-egg, etc.  The thing is that, in a worst-case scenario situation, which is what I believe we’d have to plan for, what if it doesn’t work out and I can’t get a job when I need to?  I can’t put you or Carlito in that situation.  I was thinking and if I wake up a half hour earlier than I am already and wake up just as early on the weekends, I'll be able to put out at least an extra couple thousand words per week.  The more I write, the better I'll get. I’ll just keep grinding babe, and we’ll see what happens.  That in itself will show Carlito the diligent discipline and dedication he’ll need to be whatever he wants to be.  Also, we won't have to rely solely on the off-chance of me writing a blockbuster hit to teach him that, he said smiling.  This is really tasty by the way, thank you.

 

         The next day Daniel went through the same arduous morning commute. When he arrived at his office building, he greeted the security guards as affably as every other morning and then walked over to the elevator vestibule.  He saw someone he hadn't recognized or ever seen in the building before.  It was an older gentleman that looked noticeably disheveled.  Not in a homeless kind of way but just sloppy and unkempt.  The dress shirt he had on under his colorful knit sweater was half tucked in, half out. One shoelace was untied, his hair was messy, and none of his clothing seemed to have a coherent matching or even a contrasting sequence.  He was carrying two bulky bags that didn't seem as heavy as they were uncomfortable to carry.  He got onto the elevator and Daniel followed. There was, oddly enough for this time of the morning, no one else in this vestibule.  The gentleman dropped two pristine white pieces of paper folded in the exact same way, behind him.  Daniel picked them up.

 

Excuse me sir, you dropped these.

 

Oh thank you young man, the older gentleman responded as he pressed his floor number on the elevator panel.  It's just a note with a saying.  A reminder of something. Good thing it wasn't cash, huh?

 

Haha, very true, Daniel responded.

 

Which is more important though?  The older gentleman asked before he answered his own question. - Depends where your going I guess.

 

         That resonated with Daniel but he didn't respond.  He was lost in thought.  Thoughts of security and money versus writing his dreams into reality were swirling around in his mind.  He snapped out of it when the older gentleman said, “Looks like it's stuck” referring to the elevator.

 

Daniel looked up at the floor numbers and then at the older gentleman confused, because the numbers were going up as they normally do.  They arrived at Daniel’s floor first and the doors opened. 

 

Oh look, I’m right above you, said the older gentleman. 

 

Daniel turned back and smiled as he walked out.  Have a good day sir.

 

Yes, yes, he responded with a wry little smile, it is a good day.