Tell Me a Story is a monthly series that will feature previously unpublished short stories from debut and Indie authors. The request was simple: Stories can be any format, any genre, and any length. And many amazing writers signed up for the challenge.
It is a book reading. The intern is there. She isn't really your intern any more, hasn't been, but she will always be the intern to you. She was the first. She is your favorite. She was so young then, awkward, terrific. You were protective of her. Paternal. Careful too. Always appropriate. Had to be. Others would come and go. Many were fantastic, smart, and only one turned out to be a stalker of sorts. But she is the reference point, always will be, like your first girlfriend or first born. You learn with them and as time advances and memories fade they slowly hold a place in the firmament of your brain, their greatness exaggerated, their time with you filled with nostalgia. And now she is here, there, right in front of you, so mature, classy, like Claire Danes, or Natalie Portman, all grown-up before your eyes. You are reading from your new book, and in it you take a small swipe at the Peace Corps, or more accurately, people who join the Peace Corps, not at all people though, just an old boss actually, someone you could have never made fun of in person, too sensitive, too cognizant of how little your other boss thought of her. But here, in this book, here was a chance, cheap maybe, but funny, selfish, but well-matched to the moment. The thing is, she, the intern, the intern for life, she too has since served in the Peace Corps, and she too has the read the book, and she has let you know that maybe that Peace Corps dig is not so funny to her, even if she says it with a smile. And now she is here, at the reading in front of you, and you know that you will need to reference her reaction to the book, it's funny, cute, and will relax the crowd, but that's not all, because there is a new book, its nascent, not a line has been written, not one moment spent with pen on paper, but it is marinating, taking form, and you already know how it will start. The protagonist will be in bed, no strike that, the protagonist will be on top of an intern, and you will have to say something about that at the reading as well, how if she, the intern, isn't digging the Peace Corps reference, connection, how will she feel when, if, she is there as you read the next book. Not that she is the model for that character, not remotely, no one truly is, the character is what interns, young women frankly, represent to the aging male, possibility, youth, vigor, freshness, all that is slipping away day by day, moment by moment. And yet she is the intern, will always be the intern, and she is all grown-up, and she will be hanging out with you tonight, having drinks, running around, because she is not so young any more, and does not work for you, and it means something, or says something, and you know that, even if you refuse to acknowledge or explore it except for on paper. You also know, that maybe you shouldn't even joke about it with her in the room, but you do, because its not her, or you, and you will keep saying that like a mantra, and then you write the book, actually write it, and the opening scene unfolds as you always thought it would, and now, now, you will read it, here, there, everywhere, and maybe, just maybe she will be around when you do.
I want to thank Ben for participating in TNBBC's Tell Me a Story. If you like what you've read, please support Ben by checking out his website and book. Help spread the word by sharing this post through your blog, tumblr page, twitter and facebook accounts. Every link counts! And be sure to check back with us next month for the next installment....