My fellow co-worker’s call grated against my tired nerves. I quickened my pace as I raced towards the elevator. Maybe if I acted like I didn’t hear, then Calvin would give up.
“Lisa, it’s an emergency.”
I slowed. I turned. Calvin’s innocent boy-like face was turned innocently towards me. “Ha! I knew you could hear me.”
“What is it?” I said, eyebrows raised.
“I’m still confused about what you want me to do with my manuscript. I’m not sure that I agree with your comments about my main character.”
“Calvin, can’t this wait until Monday?”
“I just don’t get it,” he whined.
“We talked about this. I gave you suggestions.”
“But I tried to create her to be so real, so life-like, but you said she comes across as flat. She’s like a ‘talking stick.'” Calvin quoted my words.
“Yes. Yes, that’s because she is. Readers need to believe that she’s human. They need to see her emotion.”
“But how? I don’t know how to do that. Please, you’re my editor; you’re supposed to help me.”
I gave Calvin a gentle glare. The elevator beeped and the doors opened. Employees scrambled in. “Yes, and you’re a writer. You’re supposed to use my advice and write better characters, okay?” I gave him a small smile, a nod, turned on my heel. I made it into the elevator just in time.
The doors closed on the crowded silver elevator, and I blinked my eyes closed. It was Friday. My two-day vacation had started. I was going camping – hard core camping, none of that RV or pop-up camper nonsense. This weekend I would canoe around in the wilderness and think about everything other than work. That last part sounded pretty great.
It was pitch black when I fell asleep that night. Pitch black as in so dark I couldn’t see my hand if I held it in front of my face. I’d reached my destination earlier in the afternoon, and I was officially on vacation. My lips curled into a smile. I had driven up north several dozens of miles, planted my canoe in the water, and found a suitable campsite. I was too exhausted to even set up my tent fully. Instead I sprawled out, on top of my tent. I lay under the stars with the mosquitos and the wolves cooed me to sleep.
I woke with a start. I had overslept. I had missed something. I realized with great glee that indeed the only thing I’d missed was the sunrise. It must be in the late morning by now.
I dug for worms and then took my old pole into the canoe. Two hours later my stomach was rumbling, but a fish was frying over the fire pit.
I ate my fish down by the unmoving waters. I was still surprised at how silent it was up here. I always was. Compared to the boisterous downtown district that I lived and worked in, this place was a desolate void. Then I remember something my grandfather said, the first time he took me camping. I was nine. I had complained that it was too quiet, that the silence hurt my ears.
“Silent?” Grandpa had looked at me like he thought I was off in the noggin and dissolved into guttural chuckles. When he had regained his composure, he implored me with one question: “Listen.”
“For what?” I asked.
“For the music.” He grabbed my hand. “Close your eyes.”
The wind in the mile-high trees. The tiny, watery ripples lapping against the rocks. A loon calling from somewhere, its mate answering. A small splash from somewhere; a fish jumping. A rustle in the bushes. I peeked open an eye and saw a mouse scurry past my feet.
“Unlike the city’s noise, the music up here is beautiful,” Grandpa said with reverence. “Lisa, wherever you are, listen for the music.”
I inhaled quickly as a shooting pain ripped through my heart. It still hurt me to think of him. He’d died years ago. Suddenly. Heart attack. It shouldn’t have happened. I suppose that’s why I still came up here every year. Grandpa had engraved in my heart a love for the peace. I didn’t get much of that now. I needed to remind myself of the music.
I brushed those thoughts away now, looking at the serene scene before me. In a day and a half, I’d have to go back to real life. But it didn’t matter. During my meetings – arguments, really – with Calvin, while meeting with new writers, I’d think of the music.