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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)

TITLE: Spanglish Editor, $50 per hour
By Sara Harricharan


Purple-marker splotches decorated the coffee-stained sheet of notebook paper that taunted me. I took my time and smoothed it out, hoping the angry creases wouldn’t cause a headache later on. I shouldn’t have crumpled it, but I’d hoped to skip it today.

A hot bath, fuzzy bathrobe and hot cocoa sounded like an excellent way to end the stressful day and I wanted to enjoy every minute of my self-appointed pampering. I didn’t want to slave over another editing job for pocket money.

Pocket money I needed.

The first line made me bite my lip as I forced my hands to line up at the keyboard for the hours of torture ahead. My brain would suffer more than the fingers, but together…the suffering was a single experience.

El celio was muy azul.

I winced. I didn’t care what color the ceiling was…or the sky, for that matter.

Ella wished por su novio traigo muchos flores. Cuando received las flores, ella decidió a voy al cine en la tarde por un película nuevo about…

The girl was silly, mainly because guys don’t bring flowers when you’re on a movie date. I scribbled that observation in the notebook sheet—in English and Spanish. The client was welcome to interpret it themselves. My fingers moved slowly across the keys as my mind translated the mix of Spanish with the occasional English word thrown in.

It was painful to wrap my western-loving, teenaged brain around a fake love story and enjoyable for my cultural side to revel in a fairly decent piece of familiarity—the Spanish language. I paused to smooth the wrinkled page again.

The creases definitely gave me a headache.

La película was muy interesante because of los personas de Amdanburg. Los estudiantes de universidad de Amdanburg están muy hard-working y honest. En la familia de novia, la padre de ella was la policía por the city. La policía was muy busy y importante, porque de mysteries

I couldn’t figure the plot out. There was something lost in translation and I had zero creativity left to puzzle through it. Any relief I felt for the simplicity of the English language vanished the moment I realized I’d have to edit my punctuation. I hadn’t been paying attention. It’d take longer than an hour for sure now.

Stupid commas.

And quotation marks.

Why couldn’t the entire piece be prose? Or a poem? Something that wasn’t so taxing on a student brain. I smoothed the paper out again and squinted to read the purple marker and faint pencil.

There were too many loops and swirls in this handwriting. That was enough for a second headache.

Mixed sentences continued. I edited faster.

Ella tiene un…y…pocketbook. Un dia…missing…lost…su novio…

My mind adjusted as my hands relaxed. The words flowed easily as I translated and typed. It had been over an hour since I’d started, but I was getting better. Perhaps this time around it was easier.

I finished late. The laptop’s cooling fan was too loud in such a tiny bedroom, an annoying sound spurring me forward. The house was quiet.

I hurried through the remaining paragraph, clicking on the spellchecker when finished. It took another minute for proper formatting and the grammarcheck, followed by choosing a plain text to complete the work.

The finished, printed result was definitely a manifestation of hard work…and a great deal of my precious pride. With a pink paperclip stuck on one corner, I trooped out to the den and set the story on the glass coffee table, picking up the twenty-dollar bills under a plastic coaster.

It had been tiresome and embarrassing to finish, but it was done.

I hesitated, feeling an ache in my head speaking to my heart. I crossed my toes and peeled two twenties off the little roll of cash. “Here.” I dropped it on top of the papers. “Your English is improving…so…that’s a discount. It wasn’t that…hard…to type out for you. The story wasn’t too bad this time either, you’re much better than before…just need to work on…plot.”

From the sofa’s shadow, her tired face came into the light and she thanked me with a smile that brought a blush. “Mi hija es muy-”

“Buenos noches, Mama.” I kissed her cheek and headed for bed.

Discount…at this rate, I’ll need additional clients…

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gregory Kane06/09/10
This really made me feel sorry for my Portuguese teacher. Looking back I whince at the pain and horror I must have caused as I butchered her language!
I liked the sweet ending too.