Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016) - Chapter 5 | Penana

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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
Writer Ruby Iodine
  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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Second Chances (NaNoWriMo 2016)
A - A - A
Chapter 5
Ruby Iodine
Nov 15, 2016
20 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!L3wjkFecSSsfqnC7wIltposted on PENANA

I sit in front of the computer as it starts up Windows, then as soon as the desktop screen pops up, I plug in the old thumb drive into the USB port and wait.copyright protection112PENANA3WR2zofKV2

A small window pops up in the corner of the screen as the antivirus runs a quick scan through the device then assures me it’s free from any viruses—of course it is, it hasn’t been used for almost half a decade now. I click on the proper commands and File Explorer appears, revealing the contents of the tiny thumb drive. One folder that catches my eye in particular is named ‘Novels by E. Patterson’—such an original name for young and hopeful twenty-year-old me who still thinks that getting a Bachelor’s Degree in English will get her to where she wants to be, and thinks that using initials instead of the full name is ‘cool shit,’ like J.K. Rowling or George R. R. Martin.copyright protection112PENANAyG650qKeDD

Inside the folder are more folders—it’s like ‘folder-ception’ up in here—but inside those folders, I know and without opening them, are discarded Word documents that haven’t been touched at all within those five years. As I scan through each and every one of their names, the memories start to return to my conscious mind like an entire video—how I first came up with the ideas for those stories, how I felt so excited to continue them and maybe see them as published novels in bookstores.copyright protection112PENANA75TytvFZe1

I get to relive all of that, all over again. It’s gonna be hectic, possibly heartbreaking, most likely to turn into utter chaos, and maybe it’s not worth the effort, but it’s worth the shot.copyright protection112PENANAshXkkxJzhE

Browsing through the many options I can choose to insert another coin and continue on, I feel the hairs at the base of my neck sticking up as I notice a shadow looming over me, then I turn around and see Izzy’s glare on me.copyright protection112PENANACQlIVm8FBM

“Holy shit!” I pat my chest a couple times, calming the heart inside that’s racing a thousand miles per hour from the shock. “What the hell are you playing at, woman?”copyright protection112PENANAjIRcgkIWkW

Izzy’s stare turns to me and she shrugs. “What? This is my house, my computer—well, they’re yours, too, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t look at what’s happening on the computer screen.” On one hand is a pop-tart, and the other points a finger at one of the folders. “I’ve always liked that one. I wish I can be the mafia’s daughter and have all that happening in my life, if you ask me—well, that is, if you’re still keeping the storyline. I prefer if you changed the girl’s name to ‘Isabelle Cross’ but that’s good enough for me.”copyright protection112PENANAYMdW7xtQ7K

I roll my eyes, but think over about what she said. The folder she indicated contains files to a crime story, involving mafias and undercover detectives and, unfortunately, university, the only part of the story I’m familiar of. I’ve abandoned it a long time ago because it’s just so difficult to work on something you have little to no experience of—a useful piece of advice my English teacher used to tell me is to ‘write what you know’ because it’ll be much easier when you can imagine exactly how things play out.copyright protection112PENANAvJBRrwdAcO

The most experience I have is watching crime drama shows like NCIS and Bones and Castle every night when I visit my mother, and I’ve read only one of Kathy Reichs’ books. I don’t think that’s enough for an entire new novel that revolves around it.copyright protection112PENANAmwxeINzrKT

But with Izzy’s obvious support on that particular plot, I can’t help but feel compelled to start with that one instead. It’s the most mature and well-thought out of the others, and I already know how it’s going to end—it’s just the journey there that’s gonna take some work, but just like every other story I came up with back then, the most I can do right now and one that will do just enough is to research.copyright protection112PENANAnJGBFO88Eg

And thank God the Internet exists.copyright protection112PENANATaZv1r1f2e

So I spend the rest of this morning doing just that. Izzy is sprawled across the couch with a bowl of Froot Loops while watching TV, and I can tell she occasionally glances in my direction to view the progress I’ve made so far. I’ve also managed to gather enough courage to open up the ‘Plot’ document of that particular folder—I was very meticulous in arranging all my writing stuff and had everything and literally everything named and even added initials for details—and scan through the rough draft of the plot.copyright protection112PENANA3pKAEsodT9

And then I arrive to the time where I have to write just a few words into the first chapter, just to get the momentum going. It feels weird to place my fingers across the keyboard again, but instead of reviewing someone else’s existing work and add comments and edits for them, I’m forced to deal with a completely blank, completely new and fresh white page on the computer monitor, having to start from literally scratch. I don’t even know where to start and how to start it to the point that I decide to do a quick research on past manuscripts and see how other people have started their novels, then I think ‘to hell with it’ and just jump right into it because this is my novel and not an imprint of someone else’s.copyright protection112PENANA7hSOSyC1Hh

First sentence done. Now for the second, then the third, then the fourth…copyright protection112PENANAhBrh6tJ7IL

I’m taken back to those old days again. Oh, how I’ve missed them—and how I’ve dreaded them, too—but oh how I’ve missed them. My fingers fly across the keyboard and I get lost in myself and partially in the music blaring from the TV’s speakers as Izzy tunes into a music channel, and within a few minutes, I finally have an entire paragraph done.copyright protection112PENANAlLb6mPyL2s

Yes, this is probably an exaggeration to many, but I haven’t written anything other than resumes and formal letters in ages. It feels amazing to write about fictional characters in fictional worlds, with fictional problems because I don’t think anybody has to deal with these same conflicts in real life.copyright protection112PENANAVaKNYCmBE3

And that’s why stories and novels and books are made in the first place.copyright protection112PENANASWFkdLNXTv

By noon, I’ve already gotten an entire page down, and just as Izzy decides to call for pizza delivery for our lunch, my phone starts to ring.copyright protection112PENANAJfhUlEJUpM

I frown. Drew’s at work right now and he almost never calls me in the day unless it’s absolutely necessary. Mom has her shop so she can’t call at noon either. Izzy’s right next to me, so it can’t be her, and I doubt it’s Cam because we have yet to speak again since yesterday, and that reminds me that I need to ask Drew about the whole music festival thing and to Izzy, too, but that’s the least of my concerns now.copyright protection112PENANAnkW78VKvwo

Other than them, I don’t think anybody else would be calling me at this time.copyright protection112PENANAypkdJyZwvS

I swear to God if it’s a goddamn telemarketer…copyright protection112PENANA2e8k9tYSno

Reaching for the phone, I look over the screen to read who’s calling, and while I’m expecting a phone number to be written in white letters on the center of the screen, I instead see the name of the very last person I want to talk to right now.copyright protection112PENANAFKJBSSxCn4

Gregg Price. Otherwise known as the winner of the ‘Douchebag of the Year’ award, also known to others as the editor-in-chief of Pendleton’s Publishing.copyright protection112PENANA0WtkacS9Jo

To me, he’s the second biggest asshole in my life whose face should be a literal butthole to match his personality since he’s ugly both inside and out, but constantly thinks the other way around. Not to mention the fact that he’s a major pervert, and he just loves to abuse his slightly-higher position than ours by having his co-workers be his literal subordinates.copyright protection112PENANA2LDa5MD4F1

I ignore the call. I wait for a moment, then the phone rings again, and it’s him again. He doesn’t call more than once unless if the boss asks him to or, like Drew though their personalities differ in so many ways, it’s an absolute necessity to call. Waiting until the second ring, I finally pick up the phone.copyright protection112PENANAskMcWE4tgr

“Emma Patterson.”copyright protection112PENANAxho1CyduIX

The voice on the other side of the line sounds like nails on a chalkboard, or two balloons rubbing against each other, and Izzy must’ve noticed my face beginning to shrink inside of itself when she mouths the asshole’s first name to me and I nod.copyright protection112PENANATKIwUOiySX

She closes her eyes and cringes. Izzy has never even met this guy and already she’s cringing as much as I am.copyright protection112PENANAAlimxe1CHi

“Hello, Gregg,” I retort back with the same spite he constantly uses against me, even right now. “Bet you’re having a field day today without me around, aren’t you?”copyright protection112PENANA3fzsgb0tGI

“Oh, on the contrary, Miss Patterson,” he says, laughing with mockery. “It bothers me to see your desk unoccupied for once, but it bothers me even more to see your cheap belongings still discarded here like the little pieces of trash they are. So unless if you get your butt over here and clean this mess up and get out of my life and my line of work for good, then I’ll have to throw them to where they truly belong. Then again, you’re just as much of trash as your things are, so I guess this means I still am throwing them to where they truly belong. Ha.”copyright protection112PENANAqAt96oYpWR

It makes me even more uncomfortable hearing him speak in a fake English accent that can be found almost nowhere in England at all, and sure enough, the pit of my stomach begins to bubble with nausea as I continue to attempt to tolerate with him while the call still lasts.copyright protection112PENANAnxdFUKTVmB

“All right, fine,” I snap, rolling my eyes even though he can’t see it. “I’ll be there in… fifteen minutes. But until then, don’t you dare touch any of my things or I will castrate your balls and feed them to the dogs. In fact, maybe I should chop your dick off, too, so that you won’t dick around with women again.”copyright protection112PENANAeqQOS60TAH

“Oh, haha, aren’t you such a comedian,” he retorts, disgust evident in his voice like it’s evident in mine. “And please, as if I ever want to come into contact with any of your diseased belongings in my entire lifetime. Unless I want to commit suicide, of course, but my life is too precious to be wasted away. Not to mention the potential and talent, too.”copyright protection112PENANAC1h5bot9Oq

Oh God, when will the torture stop?copyright protection112PENANA0bXdRRYKNl

Unable to bear another second talking to him, I hang up the phone and turn in my seat to save the document and shut the computer down, before standing up and heading over to where Izzy is, poking her in the arm.copyright protection112PENANAl1McQFiQyT

“C’mon,” I say to her, slapping her shoulder a couple of times to get her up, as she groans out of laziness and refusal to lift her ass off the couch. “I’ve got to pick my things up from the office, otherwise Gregg will probably cover them in E. coli and salmonella once I finally get to them.”copyright protection112PENANAyaUPf5eIe2

She stands up with great reluctance, but her face shows more irritation over the call than being bothered by me. “How the hell can you stand that guy, every single fucking day? Lady, I salute you for your sacrifices.”copyright protection112PENANA8fd6t4XsPL

Everybody looks at me like I’m a ghost walking through the office.copyright protection112PENANANbNAoDfGtN

The receptionist gives a solemn, pitiful look at me as I pass through the front desk on my way to the elevator. Once I reach the third floor where my desk is at, the elevator doors open to reveal myself to a room full of people whose heads were all staring at their computer screen before I arrive. Now, all those heads and stares are directed straight at me, and then the self-consciousness and embarrassment starts to kick in.copyright protection112PENANAz2YuRdz5WO

I try to ignore them as I walk across the office space, passing by the tiny room that serves as employees’ pantry where private conversations are hushed and stopped. It’s almost dead silent in here other than those on the phone, who continue to speak but their eyes are occasionally glance at me more times than I can count, pretending to look away every time I catch them staring. Some continue their actions with half their focus still on me, others have stopped doing what they’re doing immediately. Regardless, I pretend to mind my own business as I make my way to the location of my former desk, which is still cluttered with all sorts of stuff as usual, breathing a sigh of relief knowing that everything remains untouched while I was gone.copyright protection112PENANA754lbyq80g

I unfold the cardboard box I’ve carried all the way up here and put it into shape, placing it down on the desk chair to start packing my things up. Little ornaments, decorations, picture frames and polaroid photos I’ve taped onto the half wall surrounding the tiny cubicle… I realize now how much stuff I’ve kept in here, making myself feel too much at home, though I suppose with co-workers and superiors who aren’t as friendly as you hoped they would be, I can understand me from the past for being a hoarder of little knick-knacks here.copyright protection112PENANATOrGoPkDwO

I hear the footsteps approaching my direction before the person can surprise me from behind. Assuming it’s Gregg, I turn around, ready to flip a middle finger at him and to tell him to fuck off because I’m glad I’m leaving so that I won’t have to see his stupid face every single day, but I’m caught off-guard when all of a sudden, a pair of arms wrap around me and forces me into yet another torturous hug.copyright protection112PENANAr6QpAHDaNz

“Oh, I’ve missed you!” a familiar voice exclaims to the surprise of many people in the room, but not including me. I recognize the person and half-willingly hug back, only because this is the only person I’ll be missing once I’m really out of this place.copyright protection112PENANAZVE3gPCHYC

“I’ve missed you, too, Ryan,” I say, allowing myself to relax for a bit despite the burning stares making the hairs along my back stand right up. “Can’t believe I’m finally leaving this place.”copyright protection112PENANAXSrpzPfUtM

“I can’t believe they actually fired you for doing your job,” he retorts back, finally pulling away from me. “I’m aware that I’m selfish so I’m just gonna say, this place is gonna suck when you’re not here.” He then glances over his shoulder, at the rest of my former and his co-workers, who have all started to glare at him after hearing his statement. “Get over yourselves! I’m not referring to you guys—and why aren’t you getting back to work? The boss is gonna have your asses on a platter if he sees y’all slacking off like this! Get to work!”copyright protection112PENANAIUSyktgXE4

I smile as he scolds his fellow co-workers, acting like the editor-in-chief himself even though he has yet to obtain that position since Gregg keeps on sucking up to the boss to keep his job. The man I’m proud to call another one of my closest friends himself is brilliant on his own and has the potential to become a leader in this business, but the people here are too close-minded to even consider him for the position. I think it’s just a matter of time, though, until he becomes the next editor-in-chief, maybe even be a successor to the publisher of this company.copyright protection112PENANAwDZbHg1jXZ

Plus, he has the sassy and sarcastic personality that will probably seal any deal with any bookstore in the world, ever.copyright protection112PENANAWVSnkscAmG

“As I was saying,” he continues, placing a firm grip on my forearm as he leads me back to my desk and starts assisting me in packing up. “How are you doing? Like, have you found a new job yet, or at least keep yourself busy doing something? Because if you need any help, I’ll be more than happy to do so. I’ve got a friend of mine who told me the other day that there’s a job opening—”copyright protection112PENANAm4AfDUJTRn

“I appreciate that, Ryan, I really do—but I’ve already got something else in mind.”copyright protection112PENANAYo1XzJdA3b

His eyebrows perk up. “Oh?”copyright protection112PENANAAZ7tmsWz2i

I inhale deeply and sigh, mentally preparing myself for the outburst that is to come once he realizes how delirious I am for saying what I’m about to say.copyright protection112PENANAfpnQE0LoUD

“Yeah—I’ve decided that maybe… I should try becoming a writer of my own, you know?”copyright protection112PENANAMS1NQBx4cA

This time, his eyes widen, but only for a moment as they return to normal and looks at me with understanding brimming in his eyes, in contrast to the reaction Drew gave me last night.copyright protection112PENANAgNzngWPcwS

“You’re crazy,” he says, mirroring Drew, but what he says next is heartwarming. “And that is why I like you.”copyright protection112PENANAvLhSCWTnkO

I sigh a breath of relief. “Oh God, I was afraid you were going to bitch-slap me for being a daredevil and trying this whole thing out.”copyright protection112PENANA07H2VxDsCP

“I’ll bitch-slap you in the face if you still want to, but it just won’t be because of that.” I shoot him a glare and he laughs. “I’m just kidding. No, but seriously though, that’s good positivity. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try now, does it? Who knows—maybe you can be the next John Green or J.K. Rowling? All I know is that the next time I go to a bookstore, I better see one of your masterpieces up on the bestsellers’ bookshelf or you will get that bitch-slap.”copyright protection112PENANA2SCCfTy564

“Whoa, whoa, calm down there, tiger. I don’t even know if this is gonna work yet. And that is if anybody still wants to publish an idea pitched by me. You know what happened in the meeting last Friday, right?”copyright protection112PENANAXBQeusbnQv

His face scrunches in disgust as the memory comes back to him, and nods while maintaining the same cringing face. “Well, not every publishing house here is connected to Pendleton’s. I bet there’s at least someone out there who’s interested in your book.”copyright protection112PENANAcRDTTyrx03

“Hold on here; am I hearing this right?”copyright protection112PENANAm2VZFbTegZ

As another voice appears in the room, both Ryan and I turn to the direction of the personal office rooms, Gregg’s smug face being the first thing we see as he strides his way to our direction. I roll my eyes and cross my arms, mimicking his face when he studies me up and down and give a mocking laugh.copyright protection112PENANAjdA9s4CDst

“You? Trying to be a writer? This has to be an episode of Punk’d, right?” He throws his back and gives an exaggerated laugh this time, making me feel nauseous all over again. “You cannot even correct simple grammar mistakes—in fact, you cannot even differentiate between bestselling-quality plot and plots that deserve to be dumped in the dumpster outside. After all, that is the reason why you were fired, am I right or am I right?”copyright protection112PENANA9EkMydkZKl

“Well, at least I don’t have to deal with your whiny ass ever again,” I mutter under my breath, but I’m hoping he’s still able to hear it to know that I’m not afraid to fight back now—not when he has no power over me and my job anymore. I’m already fired—it’s not like he can make my life anymore worse, now can he? There’s no point in tip-toeing around this bobble-head bastard.copyright protection112PENANA37oZ73b0hr

“Ooh, burn,” I hear Ryan whispering, apparently pleased by my retort.copyright protection112PENANAZAFAK8EnM7

“But really, Emma,” Gregg says, ignoring what I’d just said, “are you sure you don’t have any other pitiful option? Maybe a job at Starbucks or Burger King? Something that will at least not humiliate you even further once you realize the lack of skill and potential you possess after having your manuscript rejected a thousand times—that is, if you’re even able to finish one entire decent manuscript.”copyright protection112PENANAQVMbIkp3k9

“Just ignore him,” Ryan says as soon as Gregg walks away, laughing at his small victory like I’ve never had my self-esteem bruised by him. I hope he chokes on his own spit on his way back to his office, too, so nobody can hear him dying and he can return to the pit of hell he came from. “He’s just an asshole. I don’t understand why that man hasn’t been filed for all sorts of verbal abuse and sexual harassment charges. I think every single female employee here has to be constantly on edge whenever he’s around. Caught him groping Laura’s ass the other day in the pantry. The boss doesn’t give a shit because when has he ever does?”copyright protection112PENANAonhMmpPxp7

“This place is going straight to hell, isn’t it?” I chuckle feebly.copyright protection112PENANAZpIFZsNEQz

He nods. “It’s kinda depressing. But if this keeps up, this house ain’t gonna survive until the end of this year. I’ve heard they’ve been making more losses these past few months. Well, judging by how he thought a story about a homeless man trying to find his dog in the streets of New York was brilliant, I’m not surprised.”copyright protection112PENANAMGvySdShgc

Putting the last belonging on the desk—an ornamental snow-globe Drew got for me after his trip to London—into the box, I repackage it with tape and Ryan offers to help carry it all the way to Izzy’s car. I insist that there’s no need to, but he claims that he has nothing to do at the moment and wants to meet Izzy for once, the two having only met each other twice before today.copyright protection112PENANArEAIqW8gux

I bid my last goodbye to the receptionist, who gives me a small smile and nod in return—well, at least it’s something than when I first got here just now. Exiting the building for the last time and back into the real world, we approach the red Toyota Prius parked by the curb, and I can already see Izzy in the front seat scrolling through her phone while mouthing out something, and judging by the beat of the bass that can be heard from where we are, she’s rocking out in her own world of pop music, most likely either Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber.copyright protection112PENANAnuX59XyXBo

The passenger window’s open, so the music floats outside and into my ear. It’s fucking Bieber.copyright protection112PENANAxo52WYgPfw

“Shut that thing off or I will,” I scowl, yelling at her through the open window. She jumps on her seat when she finally notices my presence, looks over my shoulder to see Ryan and waves at him, before turning the music off like I asked her to. As soon as I hear the locks on the doors clicking, I make my way to the back of the car and open the trunk, allowing Ryan to place the box of stuff in there before closing it.copyright protection112PENANA1GbBpCyxT3

“Well, that’s it, I guess,” he mutters, giving me a pat in the back. “See you… whenever I see you, I suppose?”copyright protection112PENANA5hx2nHZVFB

“Yeah.” I sigh. “I’m gonna miss you, buddy.”copyright protection112PENANAkcZqeWovLD

“I’m gonna miss messing up your hair early in the morning and throwing Skittles into your coffee from ten feet away,” he jokes, pulling me into another hug. “Good luck, Ems. I’ll bet you’ll do great in the future.”copyright protection112PENANA2NkdoJQXgJ

“You too.” I accept the hug, cherishing it while it lasts. “Keep in contact, okay? Don’t be a stranger.”copyright protection112PENANA1l0zoohnjW

“Will do,” he says, waving me goodbye and stops by the passenger’s window to bid Izzy a goodbye as well.copyright protection112PENANAZE8Y5nVtSG

Once I see him disappear back into the building, I enter the car and put my seatbelt on, as Izzy starts the engine again and begin to drive.copyright protection112PENANA7Utr8SbYQr

“He seems like a nice guy,” she says out of nowhere, pretending to adjust the rearview mirror.copyright protection112PENANAIRNJrb7Izr

I give her a look. “Izzy, he’s gay.”copyright protection112PENANAEy5Mxb9sE2

She shrugs. “So? Doesn’t mean we can’t hang out altogether some time, does it? The more, the merrier—that’s what my mom always said. Speaking of having fun, how about some beer once we get home? You know, to celebrate your freedom from that hellhole you used to work in. It’s not wine or champagne, but it’s something.”copyright protection112PENANA9MWCe4vp2m

I smile as I lean back, giving it some thought. “Sure, why not?”copyright protection112PENANARLdFuFRCnq

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