This is the continuation of an ongoing fiction work I started years ago. If you want to read from the beginning, click “Kissing Frogs so Far” on the tab above the header.
At some point in the last fifteen minutes, Jack and Joey had found themselves sitting in the break room, staring at the radio. Joanna was pacing, wrapping a strand of hair around her index finger, then un wrapping and wrapping again. In fact, every staff member was sitting in the break room in some form of concentration so deep the speakers should have combusted from the combined force of their listening.
“He hasn’t read the book,” said Joanna, for the fourth time.
“He hasn’t even read the promotional materials,” muttered Jack, clearly disgusted. Joey’s head snapped around at that comment, his focus on the interview suddenly broken by his friend’s seeming intimate knowledge of the subject matter.
“What?” asked Jack, “I have three daughters. This is a subject about which I am very concerned.”
The commercial break washed over their combined intense silence with no effect. Everyone’s future was hanging in the balance, and it was beginning to look very dim indeed.
It was clear that Andrew hadn’t even glanced at the promotional materials she had given him months ago, let alone read the complete digital manuscript she had given him. This was not the interview that was supposed to happen today, of all days.
“Let’s take a call,” said Andrew abruptly, as he pushed a flashing line on the touch screen in front of him. The sound of a young woman’s voice suddenly coming through her earphones made Tracey jump a little.
“Thanks for taking my call, Dr. Faulkner. I am a twenty-three year old woman, and I just feel like all of my friends are married and having children and moving past me. I want to know what I should be doing while I’m waiting for my life to begin?”
Tracey didn’t give Andrew a chance to even take a breath.
“Thanks for calling. I’m going to assume that you are not being held in a tower by an evil woman who wants to protect your hair. Am I right?”
The caller sputtered for a moment before saying, “No.”
“Then I have great news for you,” said Tracey, brightly. “You are not a Disney princess. What has been happening to you over the last twenty-three years is not backstory. It is the actual story. This is your life. It is happening right now. You do not have to wait for it to begin. It has begun. Congratulations!”
There was a moment of spontaneous applause in the break room, but the feeling of doom did not completely lift from the people gathered anxiously around the radio.
Andrew was unimpressed. His face hardened, and if his demeanor had been controlled at all by his personal feelings for her, it was restrained no longer. She recognized his tone of voice from years of listening to his show. He was going for the rhetorical kill.
“Tracey, maybe you can tell my audience why you think young women are so content to leave the role of princess behind and strive with so much effort toward that unattainable goal of goddess?” Andrew uttered the words without so much as a glance in her direction.
“Well Andrew, and I certainly don’t want to give away any spoilers. I would much prefer that your listeners read the book for themselves. This book is about the fact that those aren’t the only two choices available to women. In fact. . . “
“For instance,” Andrew cut in over her words like she hadn’t even drawn breath, “what would you tell a young woman who was trying to become a goddess by running her own business, based on your experience and regrets in that area.”
Tracey’s stomach fell, and she could feel her jaw clench for a moment as she choked out her response, “I would love to speak to any young woman considering entering the business field. While there are certainly always areas in which I could improve, I have found a measure of success in my field and . . .”
“No one is doubting that you are very good at the things at which you are very good, but I’m talking about the day-to-day business issues that are better left to a man. Like appropriate hiring practices, instead of just paying your friends like women tend to do.”
Joanna’s face went white. She stopped completely in her tracks, but refused to look at the radio, as if she feared that by turning to the radio she would alert Andrew Faulkner to her presence.