I’ve been waiting all day for your call.
I rearranged four kitchen cabinets and organized both freezers—the one connected to the fridge and the one we got to store middle school fundraiser cheesecakes.
The bread cupboard is now filled with mugs; the pots are now exchanged for serving dishes. Tupperwares have lids, stacked over each other, leaning. Water bottles are matched with their caps. But the dishwasher’s bottom drawer is pulled all the way out. So is the utensils drawer. I had to stop putting their contents away and scurrying in order to ask you a question about my manuscript.
Did you get to the part where Ellie meets Paul?
Are you in the lawyer’s office with Mariam?
Wait, no. It’s only been some weeks, and all of you are super busy. Maybe you’re getting closer to Chapter 3. I heard that’s where most of you know if it’s a yes or if it’s a no. So that means you’re getting closer.
I’ve read online how editors are juggling current clients and reading manuscripts for new ones when they can, maybe the weekends or early in the morning if their assistant thinks they’d like them? I understand. That’s the time I grade my students’ essays, too. So many essays in my life. I love to see the product, but getting to them is like reaching through fog for the horizon most days.
I’ve opened my email 23 times today even though I will get a red alert on my app if there is any news. It’s a habit. Twenty-three, Michael Jordan’s jersey number. I’m from Chicago; maybe it’s a good sign. But I can’t get my hopes up. Instead, let me look at the names of editors at your houses who have my book and say them in my head. If I say your name, maybe we’ll connect faster. In Farsi we say, Del be del ra dare. There is a path from your heart to my heart.
You know what I’ll do? I’ll keep positive. I’ve made it this far. I’ll be very cool and will find a healthy line between hope and reality, and that’s the safest way to exist when on submission.
Have you read the pool scene with Ellie and Paul?
How did you feel about the limes?
It’s too early. I’ll go measure the dining room table for a new runner. I’ll put away my work laptop and open my personal computer.
Did you get a sense from the book how for most children of immigrants, particularly from impossible homelands, we can’t ever see our parents’ childhoods; thus, there will always be an additional barrier to understanding them? Do you see how this strains Ellie and Mariam’s relationship and closes them off to a line of questioning that is ultimately tragic?
Did what happened at the restaurant surprise you?
I’m writing book number two like a suspect, looking over my shoulder hoping I don’t get caught moving onto something new. Don’t worry; I won’t get too distracted. Right? I mean, I should, but I’m in between relationships. I have to be ready to come back to the book you are reading so that when you—the editor at the publishing house, the person who likes how I write the world—when you sit straight, smile, and say, “Hey [insert colleague’s name], come see this. I found it.” My hand will already be outstretched, ready to take yours and dive back into Ellie’s world with you.
I changed the location of two plants. I hung a frame with a temporary nail. I made the kids beds. The Vanilla Bean Noel candle is burning. I had one left after Christmas and we need the smell of cake in the house today.
Maybe I should make a cake. That will take 30 minutes prep and 50 minutes in the oven; that’s 80 minutes of distraction from waiting for your call.
You have my number and know what I want out of our future relationship. She told you about me. You have all my social media and my writing over the years.
Did you get to the scene, the one in Bolivia?
Have you seen inside the barn?
Before I fall asleep at night, I think of you. In my imagination, you’re up reading my book with the lamp light on.
No, wait, that’s likely untrue.
The lights are off. The person you sleep next to is already snoring, and you’re grateful because you don’t want to feel guilty for bringing your job to bed, but you love your job. You’re an editor at a publishing house; it’s what you’ve worked for all your life. You can’t help it. Some days you get swept up in all the stress, but other nights, maybe like this one, you’re reading this book by an admiring woman who is waiting for your call all the time.