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[Note: This is a novel being presented in installments, one chapter per week, every Friday, from May 4 to August 24, 2012. The full novel will be published in its entirety in September 2012.]

-Hey Jonathan.

Eliza looked absolutely gorgeous. In the winter weather she had worn a brightly coloured scarf and a dark gray peacoat. The cold air had given her cheeks a nice red hue.

-Hi Eliza.

-You’ve got a mustache!

-Oh, right, I forgot to tell you that I was doing this.

-It suits you.

-People have said that. I don’t know what that means.

-You look very distinguished.

-Ha, I hardly feel distinguished.

-You are an author; that’s distinguished.

-Um, sure, I will take your compliment. Thank you.

He wondered if everyone who wrote a book was considered distinguished by others. There were a lot of truly awful writers, outnumbered only by their vices. Were they distinguished? Did they have mustaches?

-But, seriously, you do look good.

-Thank you, you always look good, Eliza.

-Thanks.

Why keep mentioning their respective attractiveness, Jonathan wondered. What good could come from this? It was torturous for him to even have to sit and look at such a lovely creature, but to have to make small talk about her looks, that was unbearable.

-So, you said that you are really enjoying work?

-Yes, I’m. It’s been amazing. I have only been working there a short time and they are already giving me more responsibilities.

-Oh, cool. What sort of things?

-Well, you know I can’t talk about specific files, but they are letting me do more and more on the analysis side.

-Right, you were doing administrative work before.

-Yeah, but they know that where I really want to be is on the analysis side, actually looking at policy.

-That’s why you went to school.

-Right, exactly.

-So, do you think there is a lot of room for you to grow there or do you think you might move on elsewhere at some point?

-I like it where I’m at, the people are great, and I really think that there is the potential for me to move up and do a lot more than what I’m doing.

-Yeah, you are obviously more than capable.

-Thanks. I don’t feel like that every day. There are still small mistakes that I’m making.

-Sure, but you will figure those out in no time.

-I hope so. My boss seems to like me.

-That’s good. That’s the first thing, right?

-Yeah, I think so.

-I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it.

-How about you, Jonathan?

-Ah, I don’t know. It’s a job.

-Do you like it?

-Yes, yeah, I like my job.

-That’s good.

-I guess.

-What do you mean you guess?

-Well, I just think that it’s a job and not really a vocation. You know?

-I don’t know. This is what we went to school for, is not it?

-Well, sort of, yeah. But I’m not sure I went to school for this. I think I might have gone to school in this, but not for it.

-I’m confused.

-So am I, but it’s a bit late for that.

-Is it?

-Yeah, I don’t know that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.

-No, you probably don’t. But you are smart and capable and could do it.

-That’s the problem. I think other people see me doing this more than I see myself doing it.

-You look like a bureaucrat.

She smiled with a look that let Jonathan know that she was only joking. He didn’t want to admit it to her then, but that smile nearly killed him.

-Haha, thanks. You are a real friend.

-It’s what I do.

-Good, don’t stop doing that any time soon.

-I don’t think you’d let me.

-No, it’s true.

-Every time I try to disappear, you have a habit of showing up again.

-Likewise.

-Have you read any good books lately?

-Yeah, a bit. Hmm, let’s see, what were some recent ones I liked? Have you heard of the White Tiger? It was really good.

-The name sounds familiar.

-Yeah, I really enjoyed that one. Also, A Fraction of the Whole. It’s ridiculously funny and ridiculously well written. I actually stopped writing for six weeks after reading it.

-Really?

-Yeah, Toltz, the guy who wrote it, basically destroys any hope I can have of being even a good author. He frightens me.

-What? Seriously?

-It was his debut novel and it was probably the best book I have read written in the last ten years. I’m scared to think what he is capable of in the future.

-Your book was good, too!

-Thanks, Eliza, I appreciate that, but seriously my book was something awful compared to Toltz.

-But you are working on something new, right?

-Yeah, I have started writing something.

-What’s it about?

-It’s supposed to be a comedy. I want to write about the university experience and all the wild things that happen.

-Oh, wow, that sounds cool! You should have lots of things to write about. You and your friends always had the craziest stories.

-Thanks, Eliza. That’s the idea.

-Well when you are done I want to read it, okay?

-Sure, no problem. If it’s not completely terrible I will let you read it.

-I’m sure it won’t be. You really are a good writer.

-Is it my turn to pay for coffee?

-I think it might be.

-Great, I will get this.

The bill came to $9.03. Jonathan was a little amused that despite his being a really good writer, two gourmet coffees had made a significant dent in to six months worth of writing. Whatever happened to artists having patrons? Where was an aristocrat when you need one, Jonathan thought.

 

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