Rose and Paul

“City sidewalks always seem grimier than town ones”, he reflects, as he wipes his hand on his work pants after holding a lamppost to slip around it.

He feels a lift in his heart though, a spring in his step, as he checks traffic and skirts into the street to get around a knot of people on the sidewalk. He’s got a big smile on his face as he thinks about telling her. His uncle had called that morning with an invitation that may change everything.

He’d met Rose here in the city just six years ago when he started working as a cabinet-maker. She worked as a barrista in a coffee shop, and part-time at the humane society’s retail store. And…

She writes and writes and writes when she can get a spare minute. She’d always wanted to be a writer. She still wants to be a writer, but so far nothing has worked out. A few gigs pop up — writing pamphlets for a real estate agent, a website job here and there. And yet… this isn’t the writing she wants to be doing.

Her mind is the most incredible fantasy-land inside. Colours and mists, shadows and wonderful scenes, intrigue, curiosity. Aside from being with Paul, the inside of her mind is her favourite place to be. And no wonder. Characters galloped through it on horseback, a small girl with matted long blonde hair moved through the forest nearby… Life was rich in there, and though she didn’t have these words for it at the time, she was longing to be able to share these worlds and characters with people here in this bland and otherwise grey city. People always wondered why she glowed with a kind of mischievous delight, why she sometimes accidentally wrote the wrong name on a coffee cup… something that might sound vaguely… Elven.

Paul loved this about Rose. He knew she was born to be a writer. Anyone with that kind of talent inside should get it out. Somehow. Though neither of them knew what that could look like, certainly with rent being what it was in this town.

She wrote on her lunch breaks in the coffee shop, and one day a young girl came in with her mother. They sat nearby Rose’s table and the girl kept glancing over at her. Whispering to her mom, in that way kids do that makes them even louder and more obvious, she asked ‘what do you think she is doing?

Rose, always one for mischief, glanced over at the girl before the mom could answer, leaned closer, and lowering her voice conspiratorially said: ‘I’m writing a story. And as it happens, just as you walked into this coffee shop, a girl with matted long blonde hair, but looking otherwise a bit similar to you, just stepped out of a very dark forest into a bright meadow she had never been to before. And I think she’s about to meet somebody who is older than any other person alive, and has a verrrrrrrrry interesting story to tell this girl. When I find out what the story is myself, I’d be willing to let you in on it if you would like. If so, maybe you could ask your mom if you could come back here again next week — I might know by then.”

The little girl’s jaw hung open, her eyes wide. Time had stopped for a moment. The Mom was enthralled.

“Yes, I would like to hear this story! Mom, can we come back?”

“Ask her if your school lunchtime on Tuesday when you’re back from your Dad’s would work?”, the mom said.

Rose interrupted… “It would. See you then.”

Rose winked at the Mom, picked up her notebook and empty café-au-lait mug, and headed back to work.

She loved this kind of thing, and knew she had a talent for it. Rose didn’t mind working at the coffee shop at all — in fact, liked it. She didn’t even mind writing in her off-time — when she could get snippets of time like this. Working at something fairly ‘menial’ seemed to be the best environment for stoking the furnace of imagination in her mind. Sometimes, every patron that walked in was unwittingly scrutinized for usefulness in a tale.

The problem was not the job. The problem was something that was hard to put words to exactly, without worrying about coming across as egotistical, or thinking she’s ‘better than everybody else’. It had nothing whatsoever to do with other people, in fact.

It was that she felt a certain greatness inside her stories. Maybe even, if she were to admit it to Paul, a greatness inside her that was bursting to get out. Surely writing was what she should be doing, but the few times she’d submitted work to various contests, they didn’t produce results and she wondered if her talent were somewhat… made-up.

This was what she was thinking about, not knowing that at that moment only three blocks away, her boyfriend Paul was making his way toward the coffee shop. In two minutes, he would burst in and share the news of his uncle’s call that was about to unlock the world in her mind into the world around her…

-Alex Baisley

#bigdreamprogrambook

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