Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)
TITLE: The Last Word
By Eliza Evans
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Kim watched, tugging at the scarf at her throat. Writing was her
mother's life, her passion, and she expected Kim to follow in the family
"You're wasting the family talent." Meredith said to Kim time and again.
"What would Daddy say? You had such promise."
Kim's dad had been Poet Laureate before he died.
I think Dad would want me to be happy, Mom.
Kim loved her job. She was honored to work for the new publishing company
"Word Works" as their chief book reviewer. It was rewarding and more than a full-time job. But the whole thing was the ultimate insult to her mother.
Just last night she had said, "Taking that job is like setting out to be
a doctor and settling for hospital secretary."
Kim was jolted out of her thoughts when the people around rose to their feet, clapping.
She had missed her mother's entire speech!
As the crowd dispersed Kim's mother came towards her. She kissed Kim's cheek and taking her by the elbow, steered her around the room.
"Let me introduce you to some people, dear. And please, call me Meredith in
front of others. It's just so much more professional."
Meredith stopped and pulled Kim closer. "See there at the book table? That's Jack Hamilton.”
And looked again.
Tall. Athletic. Dark curly hair. Hint of five o'clock shadow.
"Don't fidget with your scarf, dear," Meredith's voice broke in. "As I was saying, Jack wrote that book you raved about so much. Reviewed it in that little magazine of yours, didn't you?" Meredith waved her hand dismissively. "He's not much older than you are darling, and see what he has accomplished." As Meredith spoke, Jack walked towards them, holding wide his arms.
"Here he comes. I bet he could help get you going in the right direction, since you won't take any of my advice."
"Meredith, congratulations on top honors tonight." Jack caught her in an embrace and kissed both her cheeks.
Meredith put her arm around Kim. "Kimberley, this young man wrote that book you reviewed."
I've done more than one, Mother.
"Jack, what was it now," Meredith asked. "Yellow Roses or something?"
"Ah. White Tulips in Summer, you mean?"
"Oh my gosh," Kim burst out. "That's your book? It's absolutely wonderful!"
"That is very kind. I wrote it for my mother."
"Yes, I know. The dedication at the front of the book is a lovely tribute to her."
"You remember the dedication?" Jack's gaze deepened.
"But I thought the author was Skylar Tate," said Kim.
"Oh, yes. That's my pen-name...Wait a minute. You're not Kim Cunningham, from WordWorks?"
"Yes, I am."
"You won't believe this but I have your review sitting on my desk right now. It's a beautiful piece of writing in its own right.
"Meredith," Jack chided gently. "You didn't tell me you had another writer
in the family."
Jack turned to Kim again, "I really felt you heard what I was trying to say. I swear, some of these critics don't even read the books."
"Well, thank you."
"Would you mind if I gave you my business card?" He winked. "Maybe I'll come to WordWorks to publish my next book."
He reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket. "This is my card. Here, I'll give you two." He pressed them into her hand. "Wait," reaching into his back pocket, "this is my agent's card as well. And, "Oh", he said, digging in his wallet for another card, "This is my office building in case you're ever in the neighborhood." Kimberley laughed.
Meredith stepped between them. "What's next, Jack? A marriage proposal and a business card for the chapel on the street corner?" Meredith waved a hand towards Kim. "I wanted you to help her, not hire her."
Jack looked at Kim, her hand at her scarf.
"You're absolutely right, Meredith.” He tapped his forehead with his palm. “Where is my head?"
Jack turned to Kim, his voice soft, "Kimberley, would you do me the great honor of having dinner with me this evening?" He held out his arm.
Her mother opened her mouth to speak but Kim said, “Yes, please excuse us, Meredith.”
Smiling, she linked her arm in Jack's and they walked away.
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