I’ve had the kind of week after which perfectly sane women pack their bags and hop on a plane. You know, the kind where you’re ready to leave everything, forever. Because one more second spent living your particular life will short-circuit your wiring, causing an extremely toxic and messy meltdown. Five hours ago, I was there. Battery acid was dripping out of my veins and bubbling on the floor.
And then I checked my e-mail.
Congratulations! You’ve been shortlisted for the Mslexia novel competition.
The message was brief. To the point. And unexpected. I mean, I know I had gotten long listed, but still. I never thought I’d be shortlisted. That must mean like seventy-five of us are on the list, right? Because the shortlist can’t be that short. Not with my luck. Not with the week I’ve been having.
My friend Paula ordered me to pick up the phone. “Call them. Ask. So you know exactly what it means.”
And when Paula talks, I listen.
So I called.
“Uh. Yes. Hello. I just got a message that my YA novel was shortlisted for the novel contest. Ummm. Could you tell me how many are on the shortlist?”
“Yes, of course.” The woman responding had a lilting accent. Everything she said sounded joyous. “Twelve of you. That would be down from nine-hundred.”
“Oh! Uh. Wow!” (I’m so freaking elegant when I have to be.)
“Yes.” She chuckles. “It’s a big deal. Congratulations. Best of luck to you.”
I hung up, checked my e-mail again (Yes, the message was still there. No, I hadn’t stumbled into someone else’s inbox. Yes, it was still there the next three times I opened it). The message was real and it was meant for me.
And suddenly my week changed:
The little savage monster that had possessed my youngest daughter’s body finally wore itself out and fell asleep without a violent fight for once. Sleeping, the little monster was beautiful.
The epic silence that had stretched for days between my husband and I lost its hold. We let our frustration down long enough to kiss each other good night and mean it.
My oldest daughter actually did her homework. I only had to ask her seven times.
The cat stopped meowing. Usually she’s at it constantly. Now suddenly she was sleeping quietly in the corner, not even a squeak.
I wasn’t named best writer of the century or even of the day. I didn’t win the lottery. And that sore throat and stomach bug that have been creeping up on me are still there.
But I’m not leaking battery acid anymore. And I’ve unpacked my bags.
Because my novel got shortlisted.
And it made my day.