Meantime

 

The candle blinks itself awake onto the page. This is the writer’s time to prove she is awake, to imprint words, her existence into this space. This is her place to show something of herself. To say yes, see me? See? The candle doesn’t really blink, though. It stares at her, a concentrated gaze that wonders at what she’s doing awake at this hour, plotting out words that may pile up to nothing. And the pages’ lines are light, hard to follow. She chews on her words like a cow, looking disgusted and slightly bored. She has yet to wake up to their beauty.

 

What she needs to have happen: someone, somewhere says yes. She needs to hear that yes, to know fully the feeling of acceptance, of an editor saying yes to her work, her words. And even though she does know that feeling, she craves more. She has in fact felt it eight—or is it nine now?–times before. She’s lost track of the number of times she has read that yes, and yet she still wants more.

 

What the yes means: someone, somewhere says thank you.

 

The candle is still not blinking and perhaps never blinked to begin with. But she liked that thought, that sentence as it found its way across the page. What she doesn’t like: waiting. How anxiously time slips by. The emails drip into her inbox, none of them containing a response. Not even a no, to which she is very accustomed. The no also says something. Says, yes, someone is actually reading.

 

What she must do in the meantime: Think. Write. And what she thinks, writes in this early morning hour is, why is it called meantime? Because it is mean, this time in between. This time in which she does not know the contents of the response, and so all she can do is continue to write, to wonder about the meantime. She can simply wait, simply hope that more words will slowly begin to slip out of her bones in order to accrue themselves into essays, words that will one day gain meantimes of their own.

 

Now the candle blinks. The air conditioner has kicked in, cutting cool air through the muggy heat, and the candle flickers its acknowledgment. The steady whoosh of the AC—which is not really a hum, and definitely not a buzz, but the sound of air pushing against itself—fills the blank space behind her ears. The space in which more apartment roles out behind her, specifically the portion that unfurls itself into a bed. She is tempted.

 

But she writes, turns her back to that image of sleep, yawns in the crisp AC’d air, blinks into the soft lines of the space created between flickers, soothes out the wrinkles of her impatience, taps a vein, and flows onto the page. Because this is what she knows how to do. She commands herself to write in the meantime, to fill her time as she waits patiently for a response. She believes her diligence will create more words that will soon fall themselves into submission. Concentrating, having faith that the sentences will line themselves up properly in order to be read, judged. The words begin stick to each other, bravely take their places. And all she can do now is blow out the candle, wish her attentive body, which is to say her increasingly impatient and waiting body, back to sleep.

 

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