After

2 - Sam

Just go in. It's not that hard.

The words are meant to convince me. They are designed to will me forward, to take those imminent steps into the building in front of me, a tall, tangled structure that looks like it's recycled out of shopping cart metal. But inside that building is the ringing of me success. It holds all my hopes and dreams within the fists of its walls. All I have to do is step forward, hold my head up high and claim that opportunity.

But my feet can't move. They're cemented as one with the ground, the concrete melting and churning around them, clutching onto my ankles like wendigo jaws.

I flinch. The thought crawls up my skin. It jerks me out of the impending nightmare.

No. I'm fed up of this. Frustrated, irritated at my mind for constantly flicking back to those times. It's a traitor, a betrayer, trying to sabotage my interview.

I won't let it.

So, with a determined, deep breath, I set my ankles free from the grip of the ground and strut into the New York Times tower.


"I have to say, Sam," the man behind the desk nods, looking engulfed by intrigue. He glances up above his glasses to add, "I can call you Sam, right?"

I smile and agree, my stomach twisting and churning with nerves. The smile on his face is misleading, curved in an unnatural way. I can't tell what's real anymore.

"Your résumé is very impressive," he taps the paper in front of him thoughtfully. I watch with biting breath as a stray black hair escapes from his comb-over and wisps past his ear. "An independent blog earning two thousand of readers a month. And a popular newsletter."

I let out a puff of air, letting his words relax my features into a relieved smile. Maybe he's telling the truth. Maybe there's no catch for this and his words are only leading to success.

"But..."

My heart stops.

His hand reaches for his coffee cup, positioned perfectly between a stack of paper and his telephone.

The beating in my chest doesn't start again until his lips have left the rim, the slurping sound of coffee slithering down his throat making me shiver.

"Coffee?" He offers me a sip of his cup as if it's the most natural thing he could have done in that moment. The most natural thing would have been him offering me the job.

I politely shake my head, trying to hide my nerves behind a stiff smile.

He clears his throat before replacing the cup where it was and fixing his eyes back on the paper. "But," he resumes. "Your content is debatable."

I open my lips to protest but he quickly eyes me above the rims of his glasses.

"Reports on monster attacks? Shape-shifters? Wendigos? My dear Miss Spencer," he raises his eyebrows like that simple movement makes his point for him. "Sam," he corrects. "It's all mythological. Made-up." He waves his hand in the air like my stories are just like that, a puff of smoke. "And I'm afraid we don't have time for fiction here. Good day."

I grip my fists underneath his desk. Unbelievable. That's what they always call it, and that's exactly what I feel about his words right now. He dismissed it, so quickly, based on prepositions.

I can feel a growl at the back of my throat but I push it down. No matter how much evidence I pile up, no matter how many personal accounts and photos I recover, someone like him will never consider it to be the truth.

I was right.

He waves his hand to the door, dismissing me like I was only a rat scuttling across his floor, making no impact at all.

The chair squeaks as I push myself out of it. "Thank you for your time," I nod, recovering as much politeness as I can in my voice.

My footsteps are hollow as they pace to the door of his office. "Oh, Sam?" They freeze.

"Yes?" I replace my scowl with a stiff smile, the very flickering of hope kindling at the bottom of my stomach.

"I heard you're involved with the court case tomorrow," he smiles politely, a smile that only belongs in a coffee shop to be shared amongst discovered acquaintances. Not from a man who is trampling on my dream. "Good luck."

With that, my hope shrivels up like the wood it was burning. He snuffs it out.

"Thank you," my voice reciprocates, barely squeezing anything out that's beyond robotic.

I find the door, gripping it's handle. But, just before I twist it, my head automatically turns back to the man who has shattered my dreams. "Oh," I add. "And you better watch how you drink that coffee." I smile sweetly, gathering up my final blow. "It might be fictional."

I barely catch the look of bewilderment he throws at his coffee before I storm out of the room with as much dignity as I can recover, crumbling underneath my eyes.


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