The Stacks


Oh. There it is. That’s the email. Okay. It could go either way. I can’t face it right now. I’m off to McDonald’s. I’ll get a bit of a breakfast. A large coffee anyway. I’ll just take my phone.

‘On with it. Read the thing!’ Illustration by Josh Quick

-Where are you off to?
-McDonald’s. Do you want anything?
-No, I ate.
-Right. See you then.
Start the car. Seatbelt. Could be good news. Really really good. But probably not. Just look and get it over with. Throw the phone onto the passenger seat. Reverse. Look out for people. Right. I’m good. Let’s go.
Music, that will help. Help what? Are we celebrating something, or mourning something? Doesn’t matter. I will start with ‘Wish You Were Here’ just because I feel like it. This song always works in every situation.
Listen to that. Incredible guitar work. So, it doesn’t really matter one way or the other. If they publish my story or they don’t. It’s a story. In the large scheme of things, this makes absolutely no difference. They don’t care. They have stacks of attempts. Stories are merely words and words and words that don’t describe anything real so how could they be relevant. I’ve been wasting my time. They have too much paper to get through. Why did I add to that? To them, each story is a little audition. To us, it’s so much more. Just ridiculous. What, are we on teams? Us versus them. No, that’s not it.
I am not going to let this email ruin my day. Just get on with it. Read the thing! Right in the parking lot of McDonald’s. Why not? If it’s a no, then deal with it. Get it over with. It might be a yes.
All right. I’ll read it when I park. Maneuver through these people. Look at all these people. I bet not one of them writes stories. They might not even have dictionaries or thesauruses. Who needs reference books these days? Who needs to sweat over emails? Imagine, no books at all.
This is depressing now. Just pull into line instead. The Drive-through: it’s easy, fast, that’s why it’s there. I know I’m putting this email off. Just five minutes, barely a difference. Look out for that car. Slow down.
‘Dear Kathleen, Thank you for…’
They always start that way. As if they are really thankful for my efforts. At least they sent a letter. Some of them never even respond. What’s with that? That’s just rude. So when they do send it, they can’t personalize it much, past the name and the title reference. They have stacks to sort through, remember? Fair enough. But I really feel like this is a good one. Really notable. Really original. Really memorable. All the adjectives they love. Come on. Just read it again. You will see the value. Just one more time.
-Just a coffee. Regular, large. Yeah, thanks.
Get your change out. Pull up.
-That’s $1.80 please.
-Here you go.
-Thank you. Have a great day!
Remember to smile. There you go. Okay that’s it. I’m parking with this coffee. There are lots of spaces. Lots of options. Ah, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’… nice follow-up song.
Actually, that’s what editors ought to add. ‘Have a great day.’ Now there’s a laugh. Well, they might as well say that. My day’s ruined already anyway. And I haven’t even had my coffee yet.
Grab the phone. Check email. There it is. My hands are shaky and it’s only a story. Relax.
‘Dear Kathleen…(blah, blah, 2000 entries{!} skip to the end bit) good luck placing your story elsewhere.’
I think that might be worse than, ‘Have a great day!’
Note: The opinions expressed by guest bloggers at the Submittable blog are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Submittable.
Kathleen Langstroth has a story published in So Say We All’s The Radvocate. She was a runner up in their Literary Prize In Fiction. Online, she is in Ireland at Cold Coffee Stand. She checks her Submittable account too often…

Kathleen Langstroth