The manuscript – chapter 2
Shantel stepped down from the plane at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and took in her environment.
Everything seemed to be exactly as she left it, she couldn’t single out any obvious change. But then again, she reasoned that she probably shouldn’t be so surprised, it had only been two years since she walked this airport on her way to Melbourne, Australia for her masters in Deakin University.
She registered the ache in her joints as she headed to the conveyor belt to retrieve her luggage. She couldn’t wait to get home and finally get to sleep for hours. The distance was really beginning to tell all over her body and she still had a long way to go; Lagos to Calabar was another journey on its own and she was going by road.
It was times like this that she wished she had telepathic powers, so she could just find herself on Abang Asang street, Calabar, preferably on her bed with her dad fussing over her.
She couldn’t wait to see that man, she considered him the best dad in the world. He was a big and tall man. Growing up, his body had been her favourite bed and he hadn’t seemed to mind. It still baffled her that even though he was not her real father, he treated her no differently from her siblings.
He had completely accepted that she came with the package when he married her mother. She had been about seven when they got married and she could still remember how he had spoken to her before the wedding, that he not only wanted her mother but was also interested in been her father.
He had practically wept the first day she called him daddy and that was the day she had stopped doubting that he loved her.
She thought now that her mother was probably one of the luckiest women on earth as she retrieved her luggage and headed to the gate to get a cab. Her mother was one of the few women who married their soul mate, the man made for her. Not many women who had psychiatric issues like her mum with bipolar disorder met a man who was ready to weather all the storms with her.
Shantel was grateful they had met Vincent Ogbodo. He had saved both her and her mother’s life; she couldn’t imagine how her sick mother could have managed with her. How she had managed for seven years without destroying her must have taken a miracle.
She imagined that her dead biological father must have been looking down on her from heaven because she couldn’t understand how she came out unscarred otherwise.
She felt really bad for her mother. The multiple doctors, time and money had not done much. The final doctor they had visited had said her mother was unwilling to be cured because according to him, she was keeping a lot on her past buckled up and till she opened up, she would keep struggling with the disorder.
He father had eventually given up and now, they just handled her the best way they could. She sometimes felt guilty because she had given up long before he did, but she really had just been doing what was necessary to survive. Hoping for her mother’s recovery had broken her more than she was willing to admit.
Even now, she discovered she wasn’t so keen on seeing her mother after all, but she missed her daddy and brothers too much to care. She hailed a taxi and told him to take her to the nearest park. She was not only going home, she thought but also to the beginning of her future.
Pamilerin read the chapter again and then again. Something was missing, he thought. He wasn’t satisfied. This didn’t seem like the work of the person that had written the intriguing prologue or even the first chapter. This chapter lacked a sort of organization and not to mention, coherence.
He felt like he knew where the story was going already, although he could admit he had no idea how she was going to get there. He had to talk to her to get her to re-write this chapter, it needed a lot of tweaking still.
He picked his official phone, scrolled to ‘S’ on his contact and dialed the number in front of ‘S.A.’ She picked at the first ring.
“You know if only you would show your face, you would save us both a lot of back and forth,” he started without preamble.
“I’m sorry, I know but I thought we already ….”
“I know, I know!” he interrupted. “That’s why I’m still talking to you over the phone. I gave you my word. I’ll patiently read your work till the end before insisting on seeing you.”
She chuckled. “It sounds bad if you put it like that.”
“Actually it’s worse than that but I did not call to give you grief over your self-imposed isolation. I just read the chapter you sent in.”
“Okay.” She braced herself.
“It is good; I like how you introduced the parents without been too obvious. The readers with eyes for details will pick it and others will still be unaware but engaged.”
“But?” she asked. “There’s a but right?”
“Yes, there is. This isn’t your best; it seemed more like a narrative, like an essay you write for school. It lacked the substance that the previous sections had.”
There was a slight pause, then she said, “are you saying I should put dialogue or something?”
“Not necessarily, it could be a monologue which I feel that’s what you’re going for but I feel it needs more details, more refining and definitely a little description since you’re introducing Shantel to us for the first time. You also need to tell us about her worry for the future; she must have been thinking about the next step for her. She just finished her masters, what are her hopes, dream or at least dream job? Especially as you mentioned future in the end,” he explained.
“Hmm,” she sighed, sounding drained.
He couldn’t explain why but the sound pierced at his heart and before he could stop himself, he quickly reassured her. “Hey, it’s not that bad, nothing a little revamping wouldn’t achieve. I believe in you, now, I need you to believe in yourself.”
“I do. It’s just hard sometimes when you’ve taken your time to write something and it doesn’t get the positive feedback you expected.”
“That’s why I’m here; to make sure it gets a positive feedback when you finally publish it.” A brief pause followed. “I personally think you were distracted when you wrote it. Next time, make sure you’re really relaxed and calm.”
“Thank you, you really are not what I was expecting,” she said with a smile in her voice.
“Really, what were you expecting? An ogre?” he asked.
Now she let out a laugh. “No, not quite that but maybe a grouch, you know, like most editors. But then maybe you couldn’t be, you look pleasant enough.”
“How do you know I look pleasant? You’ve never seen me.”
On the other end, Sandra bit her tongue for the slip and reminded herself she had to be careful. Quickly, she replied, “You can detect it from the voice and the way you relate to me.”
“Hmm, I see. That reminds me though, your voice sounds familiar.”
“We’ve spoken on phone before. Remember?”
“Nope, sounds like I’ve heard it somewhere else but I guess a lot of people sound alike.” He thankfully changed the subject before she could think of something to say. “I’ll be expecting the revised version of that chapter.”
“I’ll send it soon.”
“Perfect. Have a nice day.” Then he hung up.
Sandra gave herself a mental berate as she kept the phone away. She discovered she was getting too relaxed around him and that was unacceptable, it would only make her say things she had no business saying. She couldn’t let him know who she was just yet, it would ruin things. She had to be careful, very careful.
To be continued next week Friday.
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