I. The worst day…
This was the best day of her life!
Samantha rolled over to turn off her alarm. She had been awake for thirty minutes just waiting for the alarm to go off so that she could start her day. While getting ready she couldn’t keep the smile from off her face. Things were going her way. She was winning, actually winning, in this game called life. It was just like she wrote in her book – releasing today – if you will it, it will work.
How could anyone argue with her? A few years ago, she had started posting uplifting messages and thoughts on social media. For whatever reason, her posts started to resonate with the public. She was now officially called an influencer. Because the number of her followers grew so much she got herself an agent. That agent finagled a book deal with a publisher. And now, her anticipated first self-help book was being published. Sure, it was her mom that mostly anticipated it but still, both her mom and her agent assured her it was well-written.
With the advance from her book she was able to make a down payment on her own home. She was now a property owner. As if in, she owned property. If someone entered the gate she could yell, “Hey, get out of my yard!” Not that she would. But she could.
Her agent had lined up a string of radio shows she was going to plug her book on. She loved public speaking and really, the public loved her. Or, at least, they sure seemed to when she was on the Speech and Debate team back in school. How different could this be?
Of course, none of this would be possible if she hadn’t met the love of her life, Cody. It was a year after she started her social media journey and right after her thirtieth birthday party. She had left the party feeling just a little alone. All of her siblings were married. All of her friends were in significant relationships. And there she was. Still plugging along absolutely alone in the relationship arena. Her social media posts were all about positivity and love yet, at that moment, she had nothing to offer. While wallowing in that ironic thought who would she bump into? Actually, she bumped into Miles because he was bumping into everything. He had just left a bar and was staggering on the sidewalk when he accidentally knocked Samantha down. As she looked up at the night sky who should come into view? Garrett the bartender. He was trying to get Miles shepherded into a waiting taxi.
“Sorry about that,” Garrett said. “You okay?” he held out his hand to help her up.
“I think so,” Samantha said standing up. “Just a fitting ending for the kind of day I had, that’s all.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Garrett said with a smile. “Must have been a bad day.” He managed to get Miles in the vehicle and shut the door. He patted the roof a couple of times and the driver drove off.
He turned and looked at Samantha. “C’mon then,” he said with a smile. “I have something that will cheer you up.”
“I actually don’t drink,” she said.
“Anything?” he laughed. “We serve other drinks, too. C’mon.”
She smiled and followed him inside.
There sitting at the bar was Cody.
“Refill,” Cody said.
“Coming right up,” Garrett said and stepped behind the bar again.
He served Cody and then mixed a couple of brightly colored liquids for Samantha.
“This is my wife’s favorite. She also doesn’t drink alcohol but what do you do when you marry a barman? Have to make some concessions, right? I came up with this drink for her. Here you go,” he said. “On the house.”
“Why thank you,” she said and took a sip. “Oh, this is good. Very sweet. A good way to end my birthday.”
“Oh, it’s your birthday?” Garrett asked and took the glass from her. He put some cream on top and slid it back. “Happy birthday.”
She took another sip. “Even better, thank you.”
He nodded, “the least I can do. Sorry about Miles out there.”
Another man sitting at the bar with receipts in front of him looked at Garrett.
“Miles knocked her down.”
“I told you to stop serving him. He is going to cost us one of these days.” He looked at Samantha. “So sorry for the trouble. Our customers don’t always know when to stop.”
“No worries,” Samantha said. “I am okay.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “To be sure, I better make sure you get home okay. Want me to call you a cab?”
“No, not necessary. I don’t live very far. I think I’ll be okay.”
He exchanged a quick glance at Garrett. “I think I better.”
“I am okay. But thank you.” She looked at Garrett. “And thank you for this. It was very good but I better get home.”
Garrett nodded at her.
Unfortunately, when she had sat down her purse had somehow wrapped around the stool. When she stood up it caught and threw her off balance. For the second time that evening she found herself on the floor. This time as she looked up at the ceiling who should come into view but Cody.
And that, as they say is history.
Now two years later, she had written a book about meeting Cody and finding the love of her life. And if it happened to her, it could happen to any of the readers of her book. At least, that is what she spent two-hundred plus pages proclaiming and promising.
First love, then a book. The two intrinsically tied together. So, it was fitting that the two would culminate on the same day. Not only was her book dropping today but she was pretty sure Cody had picked this very day to propose. He could be so romantic. She had dropped subtle hints for a couple of months. He had been acting weird all week. In her mind, it all pointed to the same outcome. By the end of the evening she was going to be an engaged woman.
Everything was going her way.
Before she left her house, she spent a few minutes practicing her surprised look in the mirror. She wanted Cody to feel like he had succeeded in keeping the secret. After a couple of attempts she was satisfied. That evening when they went to dinner she could be nominated for an Oscar. She even roped a friend into coming and sitting at a nearby table to record the event for social media.
Around eleven o’clock, Cody called and asked if they could meet in the park.
“Poor boy,” she said after she disconnected. “Can’t wait until dinner.”
Samantha and her friend arrived at the park first and found a place for her friend to record the proposal from. Not exactly hidden, but probably not noticeable by Cody. After a brief tutorial on how to do live video for her friend she walked over to a tree. She took a few deep breaths when saw him approaching. She couldn’t help but look at her friend and give a discreet thumbs up with a smile. It was a futile attempt to keep the smile from off her face so she stopped trying.
He kissed her cheek and led her to a park bench. “Here, I think you better sit down.”
She followed him and did as he requested. He sat next to her.
“Sammi,” he started nervously. “We’ve been together for a while now.”
“Two years,” she said and laughed. “But who is counting?”
His face formed a rather odd expression. “Yeah, two years.” He stopped talking and looked down.
“Best two years,” she said and put her hand under his chin. She lifted it so that he looked her in the eyes.
“I don’t know how to say this,” he said slowly.
“Just say it,” she urged gently.
At the same time he said, “I think we should break up” she said “yes.”
It took a moment for her to realize what he said.
“Wait, what?” she asked.
“You think so, too?” he said responding to what she said. “That is a relief.”
“I…what did you just say?” she asked again.
“We should break up. I don’t think this is going anywhere. You think the same thing also? I was afraid you were going to take this hard.”
“I…” she said unable to formulate thoughts or words.
“I have felt this way for months but you had so much going on with your book. But it’s out now so we can go our separate ways.” He spoke fast as if the words had been prepared and were just rolling off a conveyor belt.
“Book?” she said. Thoughts were starting to form. Book. Words. Lots of words. Her words about love and life. “Did you even read my book?” she asked.
“Well, no,” he said. “But you know I’m not much of a reader. I told you that.”
She took a deep breath. “Not much of a reader?” she asked slowly. “The book is basically a two-hundred plus love letter to you. TO YOU.”
“Oh,” he said. “That’s unfortunate. I thought you said it was a self-help book.”
“It is. But it’s about helping yourself to love. Finding love. That sort of thing.” Was everything starting to spin? She was pretty sure the park was spinning.
“But,” he said defensively, “you had to have known. Things weren’t right between us for some time now. You had to have felt that, too.”
They sat in awkward silence. He stood up.
“We’re still friends though, right?”
She looked at him.
“I think we make much better friends.” He looked at her and nodded as if agreeing with his own assessment. She watched him walk away.
Her friend walked up to her. “Bad news, Sammi,” she said. “I did that as a live feed.”
She looked at her friend blinking back tears. “What just happened?”
“Basically,” her friend said sitting down next to her. “You were just dumped and anyone watching your live feed saw it.”
Samantha grabbed the phone and looked at the comments being posted. “That’s a lot of comments.”
“Well, you know,” her friend said. “Bad news travels fast.”
The comments added up. What was worse, people were liking the video. “Over 200 likes already?” Samantha asked. “What exactly are people liking? The video or me being dumped?”
“People are sick. Oh, 500. No, 800. You know what, we’re just not going to look anymore.”
“This is not likeable. Make it stop,” Samantha pleaded.
“I tried to take the video down but it is not letting me.” Her friend pushed a few more buttons. “Oh, there we go. I think I got it. I told you I wasn’t tech savvy.”
“He broke up with me,” Samantha said slowly.
“I know, hon,” her friend said and put her arm around her. “If it makes you feel any better, I never liked him much anyway.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better.”
“You are much better off without him. He wasn’t good enough for an up-and-coming writer such as yourself.”
The words started registering. “Writer. Book. Interviews.” Samantha stood up. “I have interviews to give. A book tour starting today.”
“Perfect!” her friend stood up. “Just what you need to keep your mind off things. Keep busy.”
“Did no one read my advance copies?” Samantha asked. “The book is about him. Well, not him but how to find a similar him in your life. It’s all about love. My love for him.”
“Oh,” her friend said. “You know, I meant to read it. I’ve just been busy.”
“What if the people I’m giving interviews with saw the video? What if my publisher saw the video?”
“It was only up for a few minutes. What are the chances?”
Samantha’s phone rang. She looked at the screen. “My agent,” she forced the words out. “Answer it for me.”
Her friend answered. “Hello, Samantha’s phone. To whom am I speaking?”
Samantha watched her friend as she gave one-syllable responses. “I will let her know,” she said finally and disconnected. “Well, the good news is there are a lot of people that know your name now. The bad news is your publisher is canceling your book tour and pretty much killing – their word not mine – your book.”
“But, it was dropping today.”
“Yeah, it is now going to do another kind of drop. At least for a bit. Wait for this whole thing to die down and then try to unload the copies they have already published. Pretty standard procedure. At least, that what they told me.”
“I’m being fired?”
“Oh honey, it’s just a small set-back. It’s just temporary.”
It didn’t feel temporary. It felt like the universe was punishing Samantha for being too smug in her winning attitude. She manifested success and received temporary success. Now it all came crashing down on her.
There is one thing for certain, this was the worst day of her life.