When Tara walked into the apartment, Brent beamed. His face lit up like a monk with a gasoline can. He hurriedly helped her with her bags, and led her by the hand to the small writing desk. His mind pinballed with all the thoughts that had engrossed him all day. He had decided to shelve the "big question" for now, as it was not prudent to disclose the epilogue before the climax. That only left the manuscript.
"Wait, didn't you just deliver that on Monday?" Tara asked suspiciously.
"Yeah, I know. Isn't that amazing?" he practically squealed.
Brent made Tara open the envelope, while he carefully evened out the contents of a bottled beer into two hand painted wine glasses. He hoisted his high in anticipation.
Tara unsealed the package, and removed a hefty stack of neatly typed papers. On the front was a smaller page of color.
"Oooo, pretty pink" noted Brent, as he finished his drink in one gulp.
"Oh Brent, this isn't good." Tara quietly spoke as she read the pink sheet.
"Huh? It's ... not?" Brent said.
"No, it's ... umm ... scathing? Crude? Insulting?"
Suddenly, Brent made the connection between the color pink and slips of paper. But before he could respond, Tara had abandoned the slip, and was flipping through the manuscript.
"Oh my God, Brent." She blurted as she paged through the rejected manuscript.
Holding it up higher toward the lamp, she randomly starts reading.
"Mr. and Mrs. Brent Madison. Tara Madison. Ms. Madison. Tara Saunders-Madison. The Madisons. What is this, Brent? Is this your manuscript?"
Brent knew it was. Yet the words seemed unfamiliar to him. He took a good portion of the papers from Tara's hands, and confirmed what she read was true. Over and over, on every page. It read like an eighth grade girls diary. He slowly looked up and he did not recognize the expression on Tara's face. But it was a look he would never forget. And to be sure he did not forget, he silently committed himself to try and mimic it in the bathroom mirror from time to time.