Toni tapped her pen on the blank page. The cap added a new dent with each smack.
The page’s taunts surfaced in her mother’s voice, polite yet tough, her criticisms always hidden behind the most caring smile.
An abrupt hiss echoed throughout the place. “John, your frap’s ready.”
The bottom of her mug didn’t hold the words she was looking for. A burst of adrenaline flooded her veins as she swallowed the brown concoction dissolved in her stomach.
Catching eyes with the barista, she held a finger in the air. A moment later, the handsome fresh-faced young man sat a shot of espresso in front of her.
“I know how you feel.”
His attempt to connect bounced off her skin. He didn’t know. He had no idea. Working at the coffee shop, his words were provided for him.
Trenta iced coffee with cream.
Grande iced caramel Macchiato.
Trenta vanilla sweet cream cold brew with two pumps of vanilla, three pumps of caramel syrup, two pumps of cinnamon dolce syrup, two pumps of hazelnut, two pumps of toffee nut syrup, two pumps of mocha, two pumps of white mocha, two pumps of pumpkin sauce, three pumps of maple pecan syrup, and five shots of espresso.
He had no idea how it felt to live in obscurity. To live in isolation.
To have a mind full of pictures but not be able to manifest them into words and sentences that speaks to another person’s core. To give up credit. To accept a life behind the curtains.
To hand over your best ideas.
To survive on nothing more than passion.
A feeling welled up inside of her. She grabbed the pen with such a tight grip that her knuckles turned write. A spot of ink appeared on the page. Then another. Then another.
Five minutes later, she was shaking and covered in sweat. The paper stuck to her arm as she peeled it away. She leaned back against the chair and let out a deep breath.
Her laugh was low, but full of satisfaction.
She was free.
A woman tapped her on the shoulder before taking a seat. “Are you Toni Sanders?”
“Yeah, can I help you?”
“I love your work. You’re an amazing writer.” Her friends called her. “It was so great to meet you. If you haven’t thought about writing a book, you definitely should.”
Toni tapped her pen on the paper. Her smile widened as she stared at the words.
It validated all the lonely days and night, all the stories she created that didn’t bear her name, all the frustration, all the time spent questioning if her mother had been right.
She had the answer to the question of how she had endured.
For the love of the craft.