Monday, August 25, 2008

No F'n Idea

In the wake of Katie's departure, my little house feels cavernous. At the close of the work day, I decide on dinner out, a ridiculous extravagance. But it feels necessary tonight.

 I grab the only book in the house that I haven't read at least once: Long for This World by Michael Byers (Jess's cousin). The back cover describes a "family drama that hinges on a riveting medical dilemma." The protagonist "can save the life of a critically ill boy he has grown to love—at the cost of his career—or he can sell his findings for a fortune...."

The managing editor of a magazine calls. He had a writer failure and needs an article written by end of day tomorrow. Can I do it? "Sure," I hear myself say. We arrange an interview for tomorrow morning. I've got the rest of the day to write the piece. "Don't worry. It won't be a problem," I assure the editor.

What the hell? I've written exactly two magazine articles in my life, both so recently that neither has been published yet. What am I saying?

Ten pages in, I know Henry will choose the boy's life. 

I. Know. This.

I eat salad and drink wine on auto-pilot, absorbed by the story. I chew the last bite and turn the last page of the third chapter. I cannot stand to leave the characters, don't want to drive home without knowing what happens. I flip forward, skimming enough to soothe my curiosity without ruining the story.

As I walk out, a little boy—two years old, I'd guess—waves at me. "Bye-bye," he says solemnly.

"Bye-bye," I answer. Tears pool in my eyes, but I hold them in until I get out the door.

What makes me think I can do this?

How in the hell does one say good-bye to a child?


Jess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
riversgrace said...

So right with you in that restaurant, alone at the table with a book and glass of wine, a well of tears at the exit, streaming on the drive home. Sweet and bittersweet and everything in between.

Keep writing!

Doubting Thomas said...

Lots and lots of layers here. Achingly nice writing, by the way.

Nice thing about "bye bye" is that it comes in partnership with "hello."

Michelle O'Neil said...

You can write the article, no problem. You are IT! In fact, I bet it's already done.

BTW...No surprise Jess comes from a talented family.

kario said...

Not good-bye.

You've left the child with gifts untold.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Ditto everyone, you can write the article, no problem! You've written HOW many books, how many blogs, how many... You are a WRITER! And that, is the ultimate compliment, in my book!

Stacy said...

you don't silly- you just say luv ya and see ya.
If you'd rather you could write my monthly psych term paper instead, you know, if you would feel better about it. I don't mind, really.

Amber said...