My objective in this was supposed to be to imagine meting someone famous. But I took a twist on it, and in some sort of time warp I meet my future self.
My knees trembled slightly, though I wouldn’t admit it. I alternated wiping my clammy hands on my denim skirt, never completely releasing hold of the hard-covered book clutched to my chest. It would soon be a signed, hard-covered edition. Though, still, I thought it seemed impossible that I could really be here –here –in this room, with my favorite authoress. Of course, it wasn’t like I was meeting Jennifer Lopez or Brad Pitt; but to me, this was enough. She was everything I dreamed of becoming one day, or at least, her writing was everything I dreamed of composing –I didn’t honestly know what she was like outside of her novels.
I sat at my table, its immaculate cloth evenly laid across the top. But I couldn’t help twitching. I played with the straw in my elegant water glass, fingered the hem of my napkin, crossed, uncrossed, and re-crossed my legs under the table. I drummed my fingers atop my precious book. She was late.
My neighbor leaned over, looking as though she intended to whisper, yet nearly shouted, “She’s always late, always. Don’t fret my dear.” She patted my hand in a friendly gesture. “I’ve been to lots of these and she’s never once arrived on time.” Then, changing the subject, “Oh, I see you brought your book to be signed; how lovely!”
I nodded, smiling, and moved my hand.
Finally, the doors opened, and she entered –nothing like I’d imagined. Was I, disappointed? Maybe my expectations were too high; after all, she was only human. She was attractive, tall, slim, and old. Her hair, instead of flowing romantically down her back was thin and hung short of her shoulders. Her face had a few lines beginning to grow about the corners of her eyes. But those eyes still sparkled as she greeted her guests.
I had imagined her with complete poise and grace, gliding instead of walking. But, while she had a graceful air, she certainly did not glide. Despite all her years amidst elite society, she still had the walk of a country girl, tromping through the mud on a farm. It was less noticeable in her old age, but its shadow was still apparent.
Never mind, I thought. It’s for her books I love her.
Luncheon was served, but I cared only for the moment when she pushed back her chair and rose. She stood behind the podium, surveying the crowd, smiling, greeted us, and launched into a speech. It was wonderful, motivational, exciting. She narrated her story of the struggle to publish, and the joys of finally owning her own novel. Touching briefly of the plot of this recent novel, she explained certain portions with deeper insight. At first time flew by without my noticing, but eventually I began to feel the minutes drag past.
Finally the line began to form for book signing. Each person, just as eager as I, jostled to fit into the line. Smiling, they appeared friendly before they “unwittingly” wedged themselves into the line ahead of me. But somehow, I didn’t mind. I knew sooner or later I would be the first person in line, my book on the table, her pen touching the paper, her name scrawled across the top. When the moment arrived, I stared at the childish signature with a mix of disappointment and ecstasy. Beautiful and wonderful as it had promised to be, it was still only the shaky hand of an older woman as she scrawled on my page: