High Hopes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


Dylan is convinced he will be a successful published author one day. He just has to keep going. Keep writing and ignore the mockery of a world that just didn't understand him.

Submitted: July 30, 2018

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Submitted: July 30, 2018

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Dylan Roberts scribbled away on the lined pages. He flicked the completed pages over quickly to get the other fresh black sheets on the other side. The words poured from him with their usual ease. With cramp in his hands he wrote on in the glow of his desk lamp. The original idea had blossomed into a plot and was now becoming sentences, paragraphs and chapters. All he had to do was let it flow from him onto the paper. He glanced at the wall clock. He swore. Two forty five AM. He had to get up for work at half six. He sighed to himself. How was he supposed to sleep with all these ideas rolling around his head?

He could hear his parents snoring from the next room. At twenty eight years old, a lot of his friends were moving in with friends or settling down with partners. Dylan was more than happy to stay at home. He had everything he needed. He had a roof over his head, food, and his bedroom, with his writing desk. He spent most of his free time at his desk writing away furiously. He removed his glasses and rubbed his face. With his characters still whispering in his ear he clicked off the lamp and crawled into bed.

The next morning, having showered and dressed for the office, he plodded wearily downstairs. His parents, already up and ready for work, were sitting at the kitchen table breakfasting on tea and toast.

‘Morning.’ Dylan muttered.

‘What time were you up writing until last night?’ asked his dad.

‘Erm, just after midnight.’

‘And the rest. Look at the state of you. If I was your boss I’d read you the riot act.’

Dylan shrugged.

‘How’s the book coming along?’ his mother asked.

‘It’s going well. I’ve got a really good feeling about it.’

‘I can just see it now,’ laughed his father, ‘you’ll be signing copies of your best selling novel in town.’

‘Leave him alone. It’s good he’s got an interest.’

Dylan said nothing as he poured himself a mug of tea. His parents didn’t understand about his stories. Nobody did. The usual reactions were confusion and sarcasm. Dylan wasn’t sure why he was compelled to write these stories. That’s what it was. It was a compulsion. It was an addiction, an itch that needed scratching.

He had tried explaining several times that he would be a success with his writing. It was just a matter of time. If he kept on writing then he would make it. While his mother had smiled sympathetically his father had quoted a Rolling Stones song about not being able to get what you want. Dylan had replied that he had written hundreds of short stories.

‘It doesn’t mean anyone wants to read them.’ he’d replied.

Dylan had almost told him about the visit to a fortune teller a decade ago. But he said nothing to his dad. He’d decided that if he’d told him the truth it would only bring more derision and mockery.

 

He arrived at work yawning. He crossed the office and plonked himself down at this desk. As his computer booted up he grabbed a cup of tea. As usual he went through his work with no enthusiasm whatsoever. His heart just wasn’t in the accounts department. There were some people at the office who lived and breathed the company. He was the opposite. While he went through his spreadsheets and reports his mind was full of ideas for stories, possible plot twists and gripping cliff hangers.

Every lunchtime Dylan would scribble away in his notebooks. He would often lose himself so utterly and completely in the world he was creating, and in the lives, emotions and actions of his characters that he would forget to eat the packed lunch he’d brought with him. The gnawing in his stomach was nothing to the words dripping from his fingers. He was just so engrossed in the scenes unfolding in front of him. He recalled a quote by a famous author. When asked by publishers if it would be better if such an event had happened at an earlier point in the novel, the author had replied, yes, but it didn’t. The author explained he was writing down the events as they happened. Dylan completely agreed with the sentiment. When he wrote it wasn’t a conscious thing. Images, people, places and events, appeared in front of his eyes. All he did was scribble them down as best he could. Sometimes it reminded him of some spiritualist medium who scratched words down while in trance.

If he missed out on some packed lunch because he was getting the good stuff down on paper, then it just didn’t matter. His colleagues constantly mocked and jeered. Whenever he wrote at his desk he could see the sly nods and nudges. His workmates would refer to him sarcastically as the next Stephen King. His manager’s nickname for him was ‘JK Bloody Rowling’. Much to the amusement of his colleagues.

Dylan ignored the teasing and the slurs. What did they know? Most of them didn’t read or write more than social media posts. That was fair enough but why mock him? Surely life was about being who you were, regardless of what everyone else was doing. He didn’t judge anyone for being glued to reality TV every night, yet those closest to him seemed to judge him so harshly. It was as though everyone was pushed into these little pigeon holes they were afraid to get out of.  And yet at the same time he got the impression that they also wanted to be different than the rest of the crowd.

He tried to stay focused and inspired. He turned his attention from the sarcasm of the world and listened to the characters in his head. He was certain he would make it. He just had to keep going. If he kept writing and kept believing, then it would happen. It was going to happen for him. He would be famous. People would read his work. His talent would be recognised.

That evening as he was engrossed in work his mobile phone rang. It took him a few moments to register the sound as he was lost in the story. His friend Roger’s face flashed up on the small screen.

‘Hey mate.’

‘Alright, Dylan? Just a quick one. A few of the lads are going for a drink later. Gonna have a few scoops and a catch up. You fancy it?’

‘Thanks for the invite, mate, but I’ll leave it.’

‘Don’t tell me, you’ve got writing to do?’

‘Yeah, I’ve got to get it down.’

‘How’s the novel coming along?’

‘It’s going really well, I think.’

‘Oh aye, Lee Child must be bricking it.’

Dylan said nothing but though to himself, you’ll see.

 

He wrote away on the lined paper late into the night. Any free time he had was spent writing. Month after month, he worked. He almost inhabited the fictional world. Sometimes he became confused over what was real and what was fiction.

And nobody understood. The derision, confusion and sneering continued. Dylan ignored it all. He was certain he would make it. He just had to keep going. People would appreciate his work. He would prove them all wrong. Let them laugh and mock. He would show the world. He knew something they did not. He had only told one of his closest friends about the fortune teller’s prediction.

 

It took Dylan three months to redraft, rewrite and type up his novel. He used the last of his holiday allocation with work to completely focus on his writing. As he neared the end he was barely eating or sleeping. He saw little else other than the white glow of his laptop screen. He tapped away all day and all night. The nearer he grew to completion, he knew he had something special. The words leapt from the page and told such a tale. It was like nothing he’d ever read before. The things that a lot of writers struggled with seemed to come easily to him. Some authors found writing dialogue particularly difficult. Dylan never did. He simply wrote down what his characters said. Some writers struggled to find their own unique voice. That had never been an issue for Dylan either. The voice that came over in his writing was his own and had always been inside him.

One afternoon, having stayed up working all the previous night, Dylan finally made it. The great novel was finished. He slumped back in the chair. He took his fingers off the keys like a pianist at the end of a concert. He smiled in delight and disbelief. The novel was almost perfect. The words flowed just so, like a Charlie Parker solo. The story was touching yet exciting, thrilling yet heart-warming. Having been writing and living the story fro so long there was finally no way he could think of to improve the latest draft. It was his masterpiece. He was proud to have completed a novel in the first place. He was also immensely proud to have written something so powerful. He stared at the stack of printed pages. He placed a hand gently on the cover sheet as though it was Shakespeare’s First Folio. The project he had been training for all his life and been working on for years, was finally finished. He wiped a tear from his eye.

He slipped his manuscript carefully into an envelope. He shrugged into his jacket and headed for the post office. He joined the snaking queue of people. There was the usual mix of people that every post office attracted. There were vendors posting the random unwanted items they’d managed to sell on the internet, people taxing their cars, a couple of pensioners requesting postal orders to send to their grandchildren, office workers who’d been roped into taking the work post, wishing they were at home. Dylan waited as patiently as he could. The automated voice called out available cashiers as each customer was seen.

Eventually it was his turn. Dylan slid his thick envelope under the glass. The woman behind the counter studied the package.

‘I’d like to send this special delivery, please.’

She placed her reading glasses on her nose. She spotted the address.

‘Publishers, eh? Are you an author?’

‘That rather depends on what happens when that gets delivered.’

‘Oh, how exciting. Is it any good?’

‘Yes,’ said Dylan. ‘I rather think that it is.’

Back outside he decided it was time to celebrate. He jumped on the train into Manchester city centre. As the train rocked through Salford and into Manchester Dylan felt like he could do anything. He hopped off the train. He strolled around Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. He wandered along the bustling cool streets. He looked around the red brick streets like a tourist. Maybe he was a tourist, visiting after spending so long lost in his writing. He had couple of pints in some basement bars. One bar was playing jazz music over the speakers.

‘I love the music.’ Dylan told the barman as he was ordering another pint.

‘We’ve got a jazz trio playing here next week. You should come along. They’re out of this world.’

‘I might not be around.’ Dylan replied.

 

He walked along Deansgate grinning to himself. The world seemed to be a different place somehow. Things had changed. He had changed. Even the sky seemed to be a brighter shade of blue. His dreams were about to be come true. All the work would soon pay off. Admittedly there was a sting in the tail but he tried not to think about that. Everything had a downside. Every great night out had its hangover.

‘I’m going to be a published author.’ he said aloud.

Whistling to himself he turned into the train station. He went out onto the platform. In his mind he could see the publisher reading his novel. Even that was magical. That a publisher would consider his work was just too much. A shiver went through him. It was about to happen for him. He walked down the platform. An express train hurtled through the station. Dylan, head full of daydreams and magic, lost his footing on the platform edge.

The other people waiting at the station stated later that there was nothing the driver of the train could have done. It had all happened so quickly. The deceased had edged towards the tracks and stumbled and fell into the path of the oncoming train.

 

Dylan’s mother looked at her reflection in the hall mirror. The haunted look would never leave her features. Today would be one of the hardest days of her life. Nobody should have to bury their child. It just wasn’t natural. She adjusted her black dress. She glanced upstairs at the door to Dylan’s room. He could almost be up there right now writing away. Her thoughts were disturbed by the post being shoved through the letter box. She automatically went down the hall and scooped up the letters.

Her husband came down the stairs knotting his tie. He managed a smile and kissed his wife on the cheek. Neither of them spoke. What was there to say? Are you ok? They were both far from ok.

She followed him into the kitchen. He flicked the kettle on. There was time for a cup of tea before the undertakers arrived. Since getting the awful news they had drunk countless mugs of tea. It didn’t really help but it was something to do.

She stared at the envelope.

‘There’s a letter for Dylan, today of all days.’

Her husband sighed and told her to open it. She dragged a fingernail under the seal. She pulled out the letter and read. She gasped, tears streaming down her face.

‘What is it?’

‘He’s only gone and done it.’

‘What?’

‘They want to publish Dylan’s novel.’

His father burst into tears. He mumbled ‘fantastic’ over and over.

She read the letter to her husband. It explained how the publisher loved the novel and predicted it would be a huge success. As they hugged each other, sobbing, they both wished Dylan was here to see this day.

 

The wake was held in a pub function room in town. Mourners dressed in black filed into the long room. They drank cheap beer and munched on ham sandwiches. They exchanged stories about Dylan.

His parents accepted the condolences from friends and family. His father sipped a whiskey and nodded in agreement with the comments.

One of Dylan’s closes friends, a lad called Damien, who had known Dylan since primary school, came over. He hugged them both. He told them how proud they should be of their son.

‘We had a letter this morning. A publisher wants to publish Dylan’s novel. They say it’s going to be big.’ said his mother.

‘Whilst it’s heart-breaking, it will also be a fitting tribute. He will be remembered.’ added his father.

Damien looked shocked. The colour drained from his face.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘I asked him once,’ Damien explained. ‘how could he be so sure he’d make it with his writing.’

‘What did he say?’

‘He said that when he was eighteen years old, he’d gone to see a fortune teller in Blackpool. He’d asked her if he would ever amount to anything with his writing.’

‘And?’

‘She told him he would be famous. He would write the perfect novel. The book would be published and he would be lauded for his genius, but only after he had died at a tragically young age.’

 


© Copyright 2018 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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