But, for a moment, a happier thought. Writers are told to use visceral reactions, but rarely do I experience a big visceral reaction like those I put into almost every story. On Wednesday night, I did. The phone rang about 8:30 p.m. while I was stuck in stop-and-go traffic in a construction zone on the interstate. The caller ID said "unavailable." I was pretty sure I knew who was calling, and then was more sure when the person left a voicemail. After five long miles, I pulled off at my exit into the parking lot of a gas station and listened to the message. If I were to write what happened next as a scene in a story, it would go something like this:
She snapped shut her flip phone and stared at the hastily written phone number on the scrap paper in her lap. Her chest tightened. Something between a sob and a hiccup escaped her lips. Then another sob, and another. No, this wouldn't do, not sitting in her Corolla under the harsh lights of the Conoco parking lot. She took deep breaths, and when she was calm again, she dialed the number.So there you go. Yep, I almost cried.
"Hello?" said a woman.
"Hello," she said in a casual, friendly tone. "May I speak with Joni Labaqui, please?"
Submission this week: None. One last week, though.
And now I'm off to finish polishing my next Writers of the Future entry, which is due in three days. One of these quarters, I'm not going to push it right to the deadline.