He was just a writer looking for a rainbow.

Behind every disappointment, a rainbow is waiting. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford
Behind every disappointment, a rainbow is waiting. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

 

HIS WAS A WORLD without hope.

That’s the way it had been for a long time.

He wrote magazine articles.

But the editors that bought his travel stories had all died, retired, or moved and left no forwarding addresses.

New kids were buying articles now.

A new generation had burst on the scene.

New kids didn’t know him.

New kids didn’t care.

They bought from their friends.

Maybe that’s the way it had always been.

He wrote books.

He had an agent.

But his agent had moved on from Texas to New York.

He was with the big boys now.

His voice on the phone hadn’t changed.

He had.

I’d like to help you, the agent said. But I can’t.

Why not?

You write thrillers.

I’ve always written thrillers, the writer said.

I handle fantasy now.

Who handles thrillers?

I don’t know.

Can you find out?

Probably.

Can you introduce him to my work?

Sorry, the agent said. I’m too busy handling fantasy now.

The phone went silent.

He hated that about phones.

The writer kept writing.

Couldn’t help it.

That’s what he did.

He self-published a novel.

He uploaded it on Amazon.

He waited for the sales to roll in.

He grew tired of waiting.

The characters in his head kept talking to him.

Time to hang it up, one said.

You can’t, said the other.

Why not? The writer was talking back to the voice in his head.

You still have stories to tell.

But who’s going to read them?

The second voice paused a moment, then said, if you don’t write the stories, nobody will ever have a chance to read them.

The writer walked outside.

He was tired.

He was full of conflict.

Hey voice, he said.

What? The voice had not left him.

If I should keep writing, give me a sign.

The voice said nothing.

His head was silent.

But he looked up.

He saw the sky.

He saw the flag.

Most of all, he saw beyond.

He walked inside and began to write again.

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of Secrets of the Dead.

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