Pen to the Paper 23: The Announcement
SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2022.
"Have all the preparations been made, Nick?"
"Yep, we should be ready to get you up on stage in a couple hours here. Just waiting for your suot to arrive," Nick replied, checking his clipboard.
I looked over at Willow, our accountant, who was sitting oddly close to Nick. "And, Willow, what's the budget for the finale looking like? We have two months to prepare, so I'm not super concerned, just wondering."
"It's… you don't need to worry. You sold out to Buccee’s, remember? There are quite a few zeros here…"
"Good, good," I said. "That means we can be a bit extravagant next month if I choose as well… Also leaves a budget for the premiere in October."
"Holy cow, dude," Nick said with a bewildered look on his face. "Don't do that to me."
"We're that close to October? Heck, this season is almost over? Jeez, I feel like I wasted my entire year. What have I done?"
"Nick," I said sternly. "This is supposed to be funny. Quit giving people a midlife crisis."
Willow checked her watch. "I gotta go," she said. "I'll be back for the show, though."
"Yep, same, actually," Nick said, setting his clipboard down. "I'll see you in a couple hours, Caleb," Nick said, placing his clipboard down.
The two left the room together, leaving me alone.
"They must think I'm stupid," I mumbled to myself before leaving my seat.
The office was very small and built solely for the purpose of these brief meetings prior to the show. Often, the three of us would gather in the room to discuss ideas for upcoming shows as well. Other times, we would discuss expanding the business and hiring others. But, more often than not, we gathered together in this room and argued like real friends. We all have a deep, platonic love for each other, but arguments were frequent, and always hilarious in hindsight.
In fact, yesterday we argued about who plucked their eyebrows the best. The answer is none of us, of course, because none of us learned how to do it professionally. We all just woke up one day and got fed up with the ever-diminishing gap between our eyebrows. I will say, though, as the eldest, I very obviously am the best at plucking my unibrow.
Where was I? Ah, yes, the office. It consisted of a round table the takes up 85% of the room, the chairs around it, and a window overlooking the small, wooded pond behind Pen to the Paper Arena. Having given very specific instructions for how I wanted the building designed, this was the only thing that I wanted. However, I know nothing about architectural design, and my blueprints would have led to a building ever on the verge of collapse. Who could have thought that there was such a thing as structural integrity, and that a building of this would need massive support beams and pillars?
Nevertheless, this led to our office having a closet. A very small closet. A closet so small, the only thing that is really worth storing within it is a broom and dust pan. A person could squeeze in, but if the door were to get closed, there would be no escape.
I heard a noise from the closet as I scooted my chair in. "Pizza time?" I asked, cautiously approaching the closet. I grabbed Nick's clipboard and held it tensely above my head. Slowly twisting the knob, I prayed to God that it would just be Tobey Maguire with a stack of pizzas.
I quickly yanked the door open, closed my eyes, and swung the clipboard. I smacked the side of my hand against the side of the door and screamed like a little girl. The clipboard flew out of my hand, bounced off the wall, hit me in the back of the head, and skittered to a step in the exact spot Nick had left it. I stumbled forward and fell into the closet. Somehow, in a feat of physics only possible in written word, the door slammed shut behind me, leaving me alone, cramped, and stuck.
I knew it was futile to call for help, so I opted to take a nap, assuring myself that I would be awake by the time Nick returned. But I had only gotten an hour of sleep the night before. When I awoke, from my standing slumber—which felt quite good—and managed to look at my watch, it was midnight. I had slept for twelve hours! There was nothing I could do. Nick likely wouldn't be back until next Sunday, and I had left my phone in my locker with do not disturb on.
"God?" I asked when light seeped into the closet from behind me.
I twisted myself around as best I could to see a silhouette of a tall, strong man in the doorway.
"God! It is You! Well, I thought that I was going to live to be 103, but 18 works too, I suppose."
"I'm not God, Caleb, though you're lucky you survived, man," Nick said. "A week without food or water? Where'd you use the ba—nevermind. I can smell it."
"What else was I supposed to do? Hold it?"
"Well, the people are waiting. I was going to host it if you didn't show, but seeing as you're here…"
"Hey, man, I need you to get your priorities straight. First order of business: a shower. Second order of business: food. But I'll take the food first, please. I could kill for a taco right about now."
"Goooooood evening, ladies and gents!" I called from the stage, lights dancing, smoke spewing, and ice cream getting shoveled into my mouth. Yes, that sentence is grammatically incorrect, deal with it.
"Sorry for being late! But I am here now, so let's begin, shall we?"
The crowd cheered.
"In third place, we have Remember by Raybug63! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really got me thinking. I always love seeing your work, so thanks for sharing!
"In second place, we have AnnFan14's "Call me what you want, when you want, if you want"-lyrics by Dominic Fike. You put a great message within this work that more people need to be spreading and feeling! Everyone should just be themselves!
"And, in first… I had a tough time with this. We had many, many great posts this month. But I think that the author most deserving of first this month is Ayifushere with I wish I could fly away.!!! It was a beautiful but sad work. Many posts seemed to have a sad undertone to them this month, now that I think of it.
"Now for some honorable mentions. Roses311Sublime, I always love seeing you. A Story From My Mind While On Quarentine With Covid was amusing, as always.
"Ebube's untitled work was a short, cute read that I recommend to everyone.
"HMS… I wanna see more from this world you created in Dinner and a surprise. I was left curious to know more about where we were, who this things were, and just see whatever other wacky thing existed here!
"fudo, you were definitely a top three contender. Who couldn't love that story of yours?
"Hyperfluxe, that twist at the end was unexpected. Great job! I thoroughly enjoyed your work.
"Thank you, everyone, for coming out tonight! I will see you all soon."