“Are you done yet? I’m so excited to see it.”
“Yeah, it’s over in my room but I can go grab it if you want.”
“Please do, I want to know what you came up with in the end. I love reading your work, it’s inspiring.”
No, Caitlin thought, Sara was never likely to be that direct or anything. That’s even a bit sentimental. People don’t say things like “inspiring” over stuff like articles for something as trivial as the school paper. Especially the editor, even if they were sort of friends.
“I’ve got a story to turn in, where should I leave it?”
“Oh, give it to me. I want to read it.”
“Okay, I guess I’ll go?”
“No, no, you should stay. I read fast, I’ll be done in a second.”
Sara would sit there for a minute, flip a page, and then look up. “Wow.”
“Um, in a good way?”
“Really good. This is really good. Great. Is it okay if we publish it in next week’s edition?”
“Okay? That’d be wonderful. Thank you so much!”
“No, thank you. I love having something this powerful on the front page.”
No, definitely not like that. That was silly. She knew Sara wouldn’t be that effusive. Even if it were wonderful, Sara would probably say so in a more reserved manner.
Maybe she would say, “This is decent work. We’ll get back to you about when we’re publishing it, okay?”
Caitlin would blush at that, probably. “Sure. Thank you.”
It would be a short conversation, to the point. Or maybe they’d talk more about the practicalities of it.
“Hey, so here’s my piece, I’m supposed to submit it here, right?”
“Oh hi Caitlin, yes. Let me check over it, while you’re here.”
“Go on, sit, I’m almost done and then we can talk about it. I only really need to skim, you know, practice and all that.”
“Okay, so this is good – I mean, you know, typos, things like that. But on the whole I think it’s a strong piece, and we can put it in next week’s with a bit of tweaking. In the third paragraph here, when you talk about the public’s reaction, I think maybe you need to make it more specific. Listen – ”
Sara might not want to talk about it though. She might just say something like, “Okay, I can see a couple things we should fiddle with. Do you want to meet up, have a coffee or something, on Friday to talk about it?”
That would make more sense. That way Sara could glance it over without having to spend too much time on it. Then they would meet to figure out the little things, maybe have a conversation about some other stuff after they’d ironed out the kinks.
Caitlin hugged the slim packet of paper to her chest, and took a breath. There was a jumbled hum of voices creeping from under the door, and when she pushed it open the buzz of talk grew and surrounded her. Sara was in the corner, reading something and biting her lip. There was a maze between desks and chairs to get to her, and Caitlin maneuvered it with her eyes fixed on the carpet. Her heart thudded with every step – stop it, she told herself. It’s just one article, just one school paper.
“Hey, um, Sara?”
Sara glanced over, her eyebrows pulled down and her mouth pressed flat. “Oh. Uh, Katie, right?”
“Right, right, sorry. What’s up?” She was looking over Caitlin’s shoulder, eyes unfocused.
“I have an article. To submit. I’m supposed to give it to you, right?”
“Sure, can you just leave there?” Sara waved a hand at the pile on the corner of her desk, papers splaying out of a basket. Caitlin placed the packet there and nudged some of the corners straight.
Sara seemed to look up and remember she was there. “Yes, what is it?”
Caitlin flushed. “About submitting, though, I mean articles. What – ”
“Yeah, sorry. Lots of work, you know how it is. Okay, so you should get an email in – ” she turned and squinted at the calendar taped to the wall. It was crowded with hasty scribbles. “In less than two weeks, probably. If it’s in you’ll get an edited version to look over, and if not, well, I guess not.”
“Oh,” said Caitlin. “Is that it?”
“Well, yeah,” said Sara. Her voice had a note of annoyance in it now. “We’ll let you know. I mean, I guess we have a ton of submissions right now, like fifty for about twelve spaces, so don’t expect too much, okay? Even some of the good stuff we get doesn’t get printed.”
Caitlin stood for a moment. Then she nodded and turned to navigate again through the labyrinth of the newspaper office. Sara called after her and she spun, a smile breaking across her face without her willing it there. Sara was holding up the papers, and said, “What’s your last name? You don’t have your name on this. Katie what?”
“Caitlin Holmes, H O L M E S.”
Sara nodded and wrote, and then looked up to wave before settling back in her chair and turning to her computer again. The office was murmuring with conversation just as it had been as Caitlin ducked out the door and started the long walk home.