I was sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch, when Linda came and sat across from me..
“I am very angry with you.” She said jokingly and grabbed some of my salad.
“Angry ? with me ? why? I am a very peaceful guy and never grabbed any of your salad.” I said trying to stop her invasion.
“No.. seriously. I read your last short story and I was so excited to see how it ends, but you .. as usual, you ended it leaving me hanging.” She said offering me some of her cookies.
“Oh, that .. ” I said shaking my head.
“what do you have to say for yourself?” she cracked up laughing.
“you are referring to ‘life as a candle’ .. right?” I asked
“Yes, that is the last one .. right ?” she answered emphatically
“how do you imagine the ideal ending should have been?” I asked
“well.. at least you should have elaborated on the life of the main characters after their marriage .. to .. to compare that with the first failed romance encounter.” She said.
“well.. another person might have wanted to elaborate on the life of the crippled doctor after his grandson got married… some people hated the way his part ended.. some others hated the fact that it ended at all ..”
“and your point?” she challenged me.
“The point is simple dear Linda.. no matter how the story ended .. it is bound to annoy somebody.. like real life.. real life does not go the way we plan or wish.. it always takes its twists and turns totally unexpected and more often than not heartbreaking”
“well .. I mean.. when I read a story I like to find a comforting conclusion.. real life is full of its own hardships and tragedies .. I am actually running from real life for a short while into that fantasy world you create for me so I can relax and … and dream a little” she replied shaking her beautiful head.
“No..” I smiled and said, “No.. that is not my goal or my intention when I write..”
“really? So what is your goal and your intention? Drive me crazy? ” she stared at me.
“if you want to travel to fantasy land and then wake up to face unrelated reality, you shall better close your eyes and listen to some Mozart music.” I said laughing.
“I am serious.. “she prodded me.
“Dear Linda, I want my reader to engage in the thought process I placed into my story .. I respect my readers to the extent that I give them the choice to expand the events, the dialogue and even the characters in their own minds .. in their imagination.. the way they feel .. if I were this person, would I behave this way? Did I see someone handle himself in this way and criticized him..? I try to stimulate the reader to reflect on his or her own behavior.. how does this particular story resonate in your own life.. this is the basis for contemplation.. I am just giving you some material to think about” I explained. She was listening attentively. Then she said,
“But this is .. this a little deep for some people. Isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is not for everyone.. some people will like to read a lengthy steamy novel of romance, some others will prefer a crime drama.. but I am talking to intellectual, contemplative readers .. the kind of readers .. who like the beauty of the rose and enjoy its aroma, but do not stop there.. they like to think about its delicate fascinating petals, its perishability and the prickliness of its thorns.. and end up looking at life .. as a rose.. that.. is the kind.. that is the person who will enjoy reading what I write..” I was sipping my drink now watching her reaction.
“Wow..” she murmured to herself.. “that is why..”
“I am sorry I couldn’t hear you.” I asked.
“I said, that is why usually when I read one of your stories, it kind of .. haunts me.. It makes me mad sometimes, I cannot shake it off my head” her voice was still very low.
“I tell you a little secret .. one time a publisher asked me to write some articles for him.. I kind of expected trouble.. but I wrote a few lines .. very small article and sent it to him.. ” I said raising my brow.
“what happened?” she asked tilting her head.
“as expected” I cracked up laughing. “he wrote back to me.. he thought it was all gibberish ..he did not understand what it was about.”
“you are wicked” she asked laughing, “you lost a chance to publish”
“I explained the piece to him.. and withdrew it.. I published it myself.” I answered quietly
“which piece is this?” she asked.
“Pebbles in the stream.”
“I remember this.. it was a while ago.. I liked it a lot.. indeed I sometimes feel I am swimming in the great abyss” she laughed merrily.
“another one of my readers, just like you, chastised me last year after reading ‘Dr. Parker’s dilemma’ and for the same reason..” I said.
“I cried .. I actually cried after I finished reading it for the third time.. I fell in love with Mtmba .. I wanted him to be a real person so I could hug and kiss him.” Linda answered emotionally.
“there are a lot of Mtmbas in our world dear Linda.. all around us .. badly in need for a hug and kiss” I said somberly and continued, “Let me tell you.. I myself have cried .. really cried blinding tears while I wrote “the dragon and the turtle-dove” I confessed
“where is this published?” she demanded.
“it is not published yet. It is a play.. it was intended to be produced in New Jersey, but it was cancelled in the last-minute for logistic and cost reasons.” I lamented.
“So you shall publish it now ?” she asked again.
“right now I have another project, but I may publish it in the future.. I promise” I smiled reassuringly.
“what is that new project?” she asked picking up her lunch tray getting ready to leave.
“Dear Linda.. I cannot tell you that.. but I can tell you this much.. I shall make sure, to keep your concerns in mind..” I said with a wink.
“really ? so you must be writing part two of “life as a candle”” she challenged me.
“I did not say that.. I said it shall be .. as intriguing as ___” she did not let me finish, as she splashed some water at my face.. and went away laughing.