“…I swim against the current of my final destiny and pass through each body gathered in this place to leave a personalized vivid memory in an effort to ensure I am not forgotten. The end,” Nessa said as she set the sheet down on top of the pile of paper.
“That was the last story?” Warren asked.
“Yup, the rest of these are all rejection letters. Thank you, by the way.” She kissed her husband on the cheek.
“Doing this for me. I know it wasn’t easy for you.”
“Well, if I’m being totally honest here, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would,” he admitted.
“Didn’t hate it is high praise coming from you. I need to mark this down,” Nessa smiled and mimed writing in an invisible book. “Dear Diary, today my husband took his first step toward maturity…”
“Okay, smartass, let’s not make a big deal out of it.” Warren was on the cusp of a blush, which he desperately tried to tamp down.
“Seriously, though, how do you feel? What are you thinking?”
It took awhile for him to answer because it was all too new to him. Warren wasn’t like his wife who instantly knew her precise opinion and feelings on things. He needed privacy and time to reflect, to take the situation apart and properly inspect all the pieces before he could assess it as a whole.
“I wish I had gotten to know the man who wrote those stories,” he sighed. It was the best answer he was able to provide at the moment.
“Well, you know I don’t believe in accidents,” Nessa said. “There’s a reason for everything, including us finding these stories together.”
“Oh, come on Ness, not this,” Warren said and he couldn’t stop his eyes from rolling.
“Come on nothing,” Nessa said, tapping her finger on the paper stack. “You know if you found this by yourself you would have thrown it out without even reading it. Think of what you would have missed out on.”
Warren started to saying something but Nessa cut him off, “Your father wanted you to read his stories so that you could maybe not forgive him as such but understand him a little better. I was meant to be here with you to help make that happen.”
He didn’t believe in fate or destiny but he knew arguing the absurdity of her theory was pointless. “You know what, I’d concede your point if we found a journal where he explained what he was going through, why he did the things he did, but these are just random stories.”
“Can’t you see they’re more than that? They’re pieces of his soul, something he felt he had to hide.”
Warren threw up his hands. “I—I can’t, okay? This is all too much to process right now.”
“I’m sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to push,” Nessa said.
She busied herself by gathering all the pages together and arranging them into a neat pile, to give her husband a little time to compose himself. Carefully, she folded the Kraft paper around the pile, wound the twine around and bound it with a neat bow.
“You fulfilled your end of the deal,” she said. “So, the choice is yours: which pile do these go in?”
“I don’t know,” Warren said.
“Well, I have a thought, but you might not like it.”
“Go on, spit it out.”
“I think we should try to get them published. It’s obviously what your father wanted and maybe the timing wasn’t right for him.”
“But they’re all short, I mean, shorter than the average short story…”
“So?” Nessa shrugged. “We present them as a collection.”
“Who in their right mind is going to be interested in a collection of super-short stories from an unknown writer? Do you have some insider knowledge of what’s trending with publishers and readers that I don’t know about?”
“How do you know if we don’t try?” Nessa countered. “Besides, if all else fails, we can publish them ourselves.”
“And why would we want to go through all that trouble?”
“Because you couldn’t ask for better closure than making your father’s dream come true. And I was thinking, maybe we can include the rejection letters in a section in the back of the book…or better yet, put each letter after the actual story!”
It was a waste of time, Warren knew that as sure as bread falls butter side down, but he watched how animated Nessa became at the thought of taking on the project, and although she drove him nutty a good majority of the time, he loved seeing that sparkle in her eyes.
And somewhere deep, deep, deep within the recesses of his being, the small, non-contrarian part of him reluctantly admitted that maybe, just maybe, she was right about this being the closure he needed in order to bury the resentment for his father in the past so that he could become a better father in the future.
He could even try his hand at writing himself. If his father could manage it, how hard could it really be?
©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys
And there you have it, the tail end of my short story collection wraparound. Again, thoughts are welcomed, positive or negative. Cheers!