My mother used to tell me when I was a little girl that the best stories ever told were the love stories that we experienced within our own lives but seeing as she’s sailing around the world with her fifth husband, I guess she’s right no matter how you looked at it.
I, on the other hand, have always loved to make up my own stories since I was a kid by watching people around me. Not just anyone but people that I didn’t know anything about, the type that I could just watch from afar all day and play a little guessing game of ‘what do they do and where are they going?’ I loved creating different fantasies around the facts I made up about them.
Yet I was stuck. I’ve been mulling over a half-cocked idea that I came up with a month ago and still haven’t gotten anywhere with it. I was desperate for inspiration, and I haven’t had any for a very long time.
My usual binge of watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a pint of Rocky Road ice cream in my lap didn’t help. Neither did watching a few episodes of those weird talk shows where the guests were either duking it out or trying to find out if the boyfriend was the baby’s father because you guessed it, the girlfriend cheated on him. I was stuck in a rut, and I wasn’t sure what else I could do about it. I needed to come up with a plot for my next book, or I was in deep shit.
“Think, August. Think.” I chanted as I paced around my home office that overlooked Rockefeller Center and Central Park depending on which window you looked out of. My floor was high up enough that I didn’t get spied on nor flashed by perverted men in other apartment buildings but still low enough for the city to look like it was actually full of people and not inhabited by ants.
My best friend Tegan liked to visit often, and I’d like to think it was because she missed me, but it was mostly because of my neighbor across my window. My neighbor who lived one floor diagonally down from me had hot men coming in and out of her apartment like clockwork, and she always had her windows open when they had hot, kinky sex as Tegan always put it.
I, on the other hand, wanted to make sure I was able to hear the typical noises you’d get from the city because I couldn’t handle complete quiet or human activity at a standstill. I could never get used to it, and I loved where I was too much to be anywhere else. I was lucky to have found such a great place to live, and at a price, I could afford.
Looking down at Rockefeller Center sometimes made me envious of life that was happening at this very moment while I was indoors not living any of it.
The one thing about being a writer was that you were always writing because there were still deadlines for something – the next book, the next public reading, the next interview or the next conference to attend. For once I’d like to have a normal life and be a part of it all instead of being up here without anyone to share my life with.
I was missing out on the family and couples ice skating, the dancing under the snowflakes, building a snowman, snowball fights, shopping on Fifth Avenue for that winter coat or even the woman down there who visited her husband every day at work. I know this because every day at noon she, a plain Jane type, goes to the Tiffany’s jewelry shop to drop off lunch to her husband or boyfriend. Sometimes she went with a little girl, their daughter I presume, and sometimes she went on her own.
I was jealous because I wanted that. I wanted a perfect love and a perfect family like that instead of the one I had with a mother with her fifth husband and a father who had moved onto a new family of his own.
I opened up one of my office windows, I wanted to breathe in the city air. This was New York at its finest with all of these people in the city, going about their daily lives. None of them knew that they were a part of a story, a bigger one where each and every one was connected somehow like dominoes.
The actions of one person affected the actions of another and before you knew it, a million people later those built-up actions caused a divorce between a husband and wife somewhere in Juneau, Alaska and poor things wouldn’t even know why or how it even happened. They’d probably blame each other for the situation they were in, but they’d be wrong. The sad part was, they wouldn’t ever know the truth.
August, you’re such a dramatic and cynical tit sometimes.
“Wait, I’ve got it. I have a story idea!” I cheer out loud.
I rushed over to my desk and frantically started typing on my laptop, half afraid that if I didn’t type fast enough, the idea would somehow disappear as quickly as my dreams usually did. It was going to be a love story between a single mother and a shop vendor who was moonlighting because he was an eccentric billionaire with too much time on his hands.
I imagined her to be the type of woman who had natural beauty yet her best features would definitely be her breasts, natural yet perky. The kind where she wouldn’t need surgery to have the sort of breasts she was blessed with. She would also be the envy of all other women.
I just described myself or at least how my best friend, Tegan, always did. Somehow, I always write myself into my stories without intending to, and Tegan always said it was my version of self-prescribed therapy. She believed that I wrote myself into every single one of my books because it was my way of dealing with the things that I was dissatisfied with.
Tegan was blunt to a fault, but I swear she had the most optimistic outlook on life. I never agreed with her when it came to anything related to me and my life. We’d been friends for years, but I don’t think she knew me as well as she thought she did.
You need to update your wardrobe or try wearing more form-fitting clothes.
She wasn’t even here, and yet her comments always invaded my thoughts. I chose this tight, V-neck top that I wasn’t exactly comfortable with wearing just because she recommended I wear it. She loved it on me because she said it accentuated the parts of me that I didn’t really want out there for the whole world to see.
Buzz! Buzz! My cell phone vibrated and danced its way across my desk and was only stopped when it crashed into the side of my laptop. Speak of the devil, it was Tegan.
“Hey T, what’s up?” I answered.
“Hey, best friend in the world!”
“Uh oh, what did he do now?” I’ve known Tegan for a long time and during that time I’ve become acutely aware of her habits especially when it came to her asshole boyfriend. He was more than an asshole, he was an abusive asshole that should be locked up in prison forever, and I would have done something about it, but Tegan didn’t want me to.
She purposely kept us away from each other in a half-hearted attempt at solving the situation. She believed if he and I weren’t around each other, then I’d assume he “changed” when I know damn well he hadn’t and never would, not even for her.
“He didn’t do anything.”
“Tegan…” I warned.
“I swear, Aug.”
“I know when you’re lying, T.”
“Okay, fine. Can I just stay at your place for the night but if it’s too much trouble I can just go to…”
“No, it’s fine. Come on over.” I relented.
“Great, be up in a second. You’re the best!”
“Wait, you’ll be up in a second?”
“Yeah, sorry, I’m downstairs in the lobby,” she confessed.
“Should have known, see you in a bit. Bye.” I hung up my cell.
Sometimes I worried about Tegan and the choices that she made in her life. While I knew she was generally a smart and kind person and would ultimately do okay in life, there were the other times where things happened because she let some jerk override her common sense.
“I’m here!” Tegan announced as she walked into my apartment, without knocking I might add.
“I’m in my office,” I called back.
“What are you up to? Writing the next great love story?”
“Don’t I always?” I sighed as I sat back down.
“Well, let me read it,” she said peering over my shoulder.
“Read what? I barely started. I’ve only written a couple of paragraphs.” I said staring at the mostly empty screen.
“That’s it? Didn’t you first mention wanting to do this a month ago?”
“It’s harder than it looks. The problem is, I don’t know how I’m going to write an amazing story when I’m not even out there living some great adventure and falling in love myself. I mean I haven’t had anything eventful or amazing happen to me in such a long time, I don’t have anything to inspire me other than what’s going on out there.”
“Well, you could always…”
Before Tegan could offer up one of her hair-brained ideas, we were interrupted by a sudden knock on the door.
“Expecting someone?” Tegan asked.
“No,” I whispered. “Shh.”
As Tegan and I tiptoed our way out of my home office and across the kitchen to the front door, there was another knock on my apartment door which only made Tegan giggle with excitement. She lived for random and silly moments like these.
“Shh.” I urged quietly.
Whoever the stranger was at my door, they decided to shove a stack of papers folded in quarters underneath my door. I had half a mind to look through the peephole to see who it was but I had this weird belief that if I looked through the peephole, they would be able to see me back and know that I was home alone, most nights anyway.
“Are they gone?” Tegan whispered. I placed my ear against the door and heard the sounds of footsteps descending down the stairs.
“Looks like it. They left a note.”
“I wonder if it’s a love letter from a secret admirer.”
“Or it could just be an ad to something useless from some solicitor that snuck into my building,” I said as I picked up the folded pieces of paper.
Hesitant, I opened them up, and I knew what it was immediately. It was a copy of the lease renewal from the landlord, and at first, I would have shrugged it off because it was no big deal.
I hadn’t given Mr. Oliver my answer as to whether or not I wanted to keep renting this apartment or if I wanted to move out, but he was anxious to get my answer. As I glanced at the lease rate options, I noticed that they jumped up considerably for what was supposed to be a rent controlled building.
“What the fuck?” I muttered.
“What is it? Nudes? A love letter? What?” Tegan snickered.
“No! That was probably Mr. Oliver. This is the lease renewal notice, but this time he raised the rent by 10%.”
“I thought your building was one of the last rent-controlled buildings in the city? I mean, wasn’t that the main reason why you chose this building?” Tegan looked over my shoulder to review the lease renewal.
“I thought so too, but I guess not. I can’t afford an increase, I haven’t written a new book in months. I’m going to call him and give him a piece of my mind!” I stalked towards the telephone, ready to call my landlord and demand an explanation.
Tegan grabbed my cell phone out of my hand, “No you don’t!”
“Hey, give me my phone back,” I demanded.
“No. Calling your landlord when you’re angry is one thing you don’t want to do.”
“Well, I have to get answers.” I reasoned.
“Yes you do, but not when you are upset like this. You know how you get when you’re angry. You have a tendency to say things you end up regretting the next day because you can’t keep your mouth shut. You don’t even have to be drunk either.”
Tegan was right, I could be brash and impulsive sometimes, “What am I going to do then?” I plopped down on the sofa and then flopped over to lay down and veg.
“You are going to go out with me for ladies night, that’s what you are going to do,” Tegan suggested.
“Ugh, ladies night, really? Do we have to?” I groaned and covered my face with one of the sofa pillows.
“Yes, ladies night. We haven’t had one of those in months, and it’s about time that we do. It’s also about time for you to hit the bars and clubs and get some drinks in you. Then you can hit on some hot guy and then dance the night away with him. If you get lucky, then you may get lucky with him too.” Tegan wiggled her eyebrows.
“Ugh. I’m so not in the mood.” I groaned again. I was tired, and I wanted nothing more than to just lie here and watch mindless television for a few hours.
Tegan had other ideas in mind, it seemed. Any excuse she could find to get out of the house and party to her heart's content.