"Quickly! Quickly!"Gertrude muttered, scrambling together the last bits of paper and stuffing them inside her stylish briefcase.
She had only an hour to gather together the last of her things and trek down five blocks through heavy traffic to Harper Collins Publishers Inc., where she had been going with every new novel for four years.
She had a meeting with Gregory, her personal publisher and close friend. Ever since her first novel drew national attention, Gregory had been working with her through every sequel, and prequel for that matter.
Glamorous attention, glitzy photo shoots with her books thrown about her in a mock whirlwind, and practically daunting press coverage had been her rewards over the few years of success since Harper Collins discovered her.
Being only twenty when she wrote her hit, the media had delved into her life, watching every relationship, every move, every piece of paper that escaped her hands. Well, that's how things were, but ever since her last release got not-so-great reviews, the world put her on the back burner.
It seemed as though she couldn't reproduce the frenzy that her first novel, Dancing with Sunshine, had started up. Even though the attention wasn't something she wanted to regain, Gregory had told her that she needed another smashing hit to make her mark on history.
Gertrude, or Gertie as she preferred to be called, grabbed up the remaining papers and her coat, stumbling towards the front door, being as careful as possible not to wake Kevin, sleeping in their bedroom. Unluckily, she didn't succeed.
"Where's the fire?" Kevin called sleepily from the hallway. Gertie straightened up and turned to face him. He was dressed only in his pajama pants, his brown hair disheveled in every which-a-way. He leaned casually on the doorframe and stared back at her with his arms crossed.
"I have a meeting with Greg for my new novel," she replied shortly. She didn't have time to play cute and flirty. He shifted uncomfortably and walked towards her.
She and Kevin had been together for two years. He was a ballsy journalist for the New York Times, the same journalist that was the first to publish a positive review for her book.
She guessed their chemistry clicked at first, but for the past few months, things between them were slowly going downhill. He was turning into an egotistical maniac, becoming more and more obsessed with working instead of their relationship. She felt more and more repulsion towards him every day.
"Look, I'll call you later. I really need to get going," Gertie said firmly as Kevin opened his arms for a hug. Instead of returning it, she turned back towards the door and jogged out onto the sidewalk. Kevin watched her from the window and then walked back to his bedroom. He picked his cell phone out of his coat pocket and dialed.
"Hello, Sam, it's Kevin," he smiled as he spoke, "yeah, she just left. No, she won't be back until much later. Yeah, Harper Collins. I know, right? Anyways, you'll get the money as soon as I get all the pictures. Yeah, just make sure she doesn't see you… Yeah, bye." With that, he snapped his phone quickly shut and returned it inside his coat.
"Yo! Get outta the way lady!" an enraged cabbie screamed from his window. Gertie pushed herself off of the cabs that filled the intersection but tripped in front of this particularly angry man.
"Sorry!" she yelled back, regaining her balance before continuing to sprint the last block to the publisher's building. Skittering to a halt in front of the doors, she glanced at her phone. She had fifteen minutes left, an amazing amount of time. Pushinga few copper blonde tresses from her eyes, she briskly walked inside, making a beeline to the elevators.
"Excuse me, miss? You need to sign in. Miss?" the receptionist called after her, but Gertie paid no attention, considering that she's in fact never once 'signed in.'
Hopping inside the elevator, Gertie fumbled with the floor buttons and accidentally pressed both floors six and seven instead of the floor she wanted, floor eight. Pressing number 8, she waited as patiently as her mind would allow as the doors opened and closed twice before she could get out.
As floor eight's doors opened, Gertie was tackled with a giant hug and a loud, babbling clamor. She burst into laughter and hugged Gregory back.
"Gertie darling! You're perfectly on time!" he gushed. Gregory swiftly leaned in and kissed her on each cheek then pulled her into his office. "What do you have for me today?" he asked as he sat down behind a great mahogany desk. Gertie pulled the enormous stack of paper fromher suitcase and set it down on his desk with a thud.
"I think this may be the answer to our prayers," she said confidently. Grinning, Greg opened over the worn leather top cover and began reading at a lightning fast pace. Gertie sat down in one of the comfy suede chairs and relaxed, knowing that she would have time to rest her eyes a little while Greg read her work.
I didn't realize I had dozed off until I heard Gregory saying my name slowly.
"Gertie… Gertrude Marie… Gertrude Marie Campbell! Wake up!"
My eyes fluttered open as the rest of my body jumped to attention. I scrambled my thoughts together to remember where I was and why I was there. I looked at Greg, his glasses were in one hand, the last page of my novel in the other. I should have known by the glasses that it wasn't a good sign, but I smiled encouragingly anyways.
"Well? What do you think?"
"Gertie… You know that I consider you a very close friend, and there isn't really anything I wouldn't do for you, but I just can't" he sighed. His face looked resigned and sort of stressed. I cocked my head to the side, confused at this strange new Greg.
"Can't what, Greg?"
"I can't publish this," he said slowly, "not unless you want to be shunned from the writing community. I hate to say this, but Gertie, this is terrible. It's like you've lost your gift."
That's when it all really hit me.