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4th December
posted by amber

Family Reunion

I didn’t want to go to the family reunion. What do these people mean to me? Cheap cards sent every Christmas, inappropriate gifts when I was younger, like the colouring book Aunt Bea sent when I was 14. And those dreadful oil paintings Uncle Dirk did for our wedding. Thank god he never visited us. They weren’t in the closet two months before I turfed them to the dump.

None of them ever visited. They’ve been too busy for me all my life and I’m sure too busy for them now. But…there’s the family Facebook page where I learned about my cousin Bradley. Bradley the literary agent. Who represents unnamed but hinted at top writers of crime fiction. And since my divorce, I’ve been writing crime fiction.

At first it was therapeutic, stories about wives killing their ex-husbands in various brutal heartless ways. About mousy librarians finding fulfilment in biker bars or fire halls. Funny thing is, I found out that I enjoy writing. After years of telling people that just because I work with books all day doesn’t mean I’d want to write one.

Now I’ve written one, and on my good days I think it’s not half bad (don’t ask me about my not-so-good days.) So I signed up for the family reunion, booked my flight and my hotel room, and then – wracked my brain for ways to convince cousin Bradley that I’m a serious writer. I’ve never had anything published. Okay, yes there were those articles in Librarian Monthly. Most of them were boring. There were two that stood out – I decided to photocopy them and tell Bradley I was a regular feature writer. The magazine isn’t in publication any more. He’d have to dig pretty deeply to find out I’m lying.

Having set foot on the road to hell, I threw caution to the wind. I escalated the memory of the library newsletter I wrote for the first library that employed me, called myself the editor (well, I was, damn it), dug out a copy of the family history I’d helped a local oldster research and printed an errata sheet naming myself at the ghost writer, invented from whole cloth a mystery writers’ club of which I am president and chief writing instructor. I cleaned up my manuscript and put it in a nice box.

Now that the reunion is over, I’m ecstatic! It didn’t take but a minute to convince Bradley to represent me. He didn’t even want to read my novel first. He said, “I remember you, Joanna. You always were smart. I’m sure it’s a great novel.” I remember him too – he was a little brat but now he’s so charming – everyone at the reunion loved him. Aunt Bea flirted with him like a young girl. He’s going to help her find a senior’s apartment with a lower rent.

It did make me a bit dubious when he told Uncle Dirk that he knows a gallery owner who might display his work. I mean – he should have insisted on seeing the work ‘in the flesh’ first – those little photos from Uncle Dirk’s wallet make them look a lot better than they are. Dirk asked about the ones he gave us. I lied and said Charles had kept them after the divorce. Dirk gave Bradley a bit of cash for an advance for a photographer to take professional shots of his work. Boy, are they ever going to be disappointed!

But when Bradley reads my novel, he’ll see that I have true talent. And I know he’ll read it. He was so apologetic about the reading fee his agency charges, but I already knew that was a standard practice. $500 seemed a bit steep, but he told me that will bypass the slush readers and get me on the desk of one of the senior agents, most likely himself.

I can’t wait to hear back from him!

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

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