Lucy Ambrose Kipling is the editor of History Alive! magazine. She also happens to be a social hermit who lives with a cat named Jimbo. She has a passion for writing a tendency to lie to herself. This is the story of her coming out of her shell and finding love in unlikely places.
The only thing that kept Lucy going at the end of the day was the sound of the keys clacking on her typewriter. She didn’t believe in computers. She used one at work, but ultimately she believed that they were idiot machines that were a bad imitation at the human brain. She lived to write. That was her solace in a hectic world of pushing papers and firing people who saw their job as an easy paycheck. Some days, she wanted to quit. She came so close to announcing her resignation that she had brought out the form several times, only to put it back with great reluctance. She needed a job. She needed a job that would provide her with enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table, and that job just happened to be editing one of the most popular history magazines in the entire city of Washington D.C. She lived alone with nothing but an orange house cat and piles upon piles of books. And her typewriter. Her beloved typewriter. It had been her mother’s before her, and it was the only thing she had been left to inherit when she died. It was the only memory she had of her, and also her only friend, besides her cat, Jimbo and her books. She liked the way she lived- alone. She couldn’t see herself being able to concentrate any other way. She didn’t have any romantic interests, either. She was an attractive girl, and was offered many dates, but never failed to turned them down. All because of her love for her solitary lifestyle. She never admitted it, but really she was scared of anything else. She had become so accustomed to her current life that she wasn’t ready to change it. She wasn’t prepared for that kind of emotional devotion. Her heart was only open enough for what she had then. Really, she was afraid that if she did go on a date, she would end up actually liking the guy and becoming committed to him. Those were the real reasons behind her social reclusiveness.
Today she was writing something very personal. It was a fictional account of a girl’s mother dying and then coming back to teach her how to make the most out of life. Obviously she drew inspiration from her own life. In its own way, it was like a plea to her mother’s spirit to come back. She knew it couldn’t happen. She knew it was totally, entirely fictional, but there was still a tiny sliver of hope that kept her from stopping those keys from clacking. Her fingers were moving as fast as they would go and it still wasn’t fast enough. It was like there were words waiting in line at each of her fingertip, just waiting to get out. They were all pent up inside and the speed of each of those ten appendages wasn’t great enough to satisfy their cabin fever. She sighed and glanced outside just after adding the period to the end of the last sentence on the first full page. It was just starting to get dark and the smoggy sky of Washington D.C. was turning an auburn color. She wished she could see the stars here, but the light pollution was overwhelming. She imagined that they would give her a lot of inspiration, as if she would ever know. She rarely left the city unless it was on business or to visit her father, neither of which happened very often. Yes, for the most part, she stayed right here in the city. Sometimes she hated it and sometimes she loved it. It all depended on what kind of a day she was having. Really, that’s what everything depended on with her. She wasn’t exactly the biggest optimist in the world, and people knew that. They knew not to mess with her, especially when she was in one of her signature bad moods. They didn’t hate her at the office. They just didn’t quite understand her. She seemed so distant to them, and she didn’t do anything to change that. Every once in a while an overeager intern came along and would bug her until she blew up at them. It made her feel so guilty, but it was just her nature. She liked to be alone, and that was that. That’s why her job probably wasn’t the best suited for her. She wasn’t very social and worked better by herself. People in general just weren’t her cup of tea. Sometimes she got so weary that tears welled up in her eyes and spilled over, each one feeling like a painful, stabbing dagger on her face and in her heart. Sometimes the pain of it all was just too much. She was depressed and she knew it. She had no light in her life. Writing made her feel good, yes, but it was simply an escape. It wasn’t something that brought extreme excitement or joy. She needed something to make her feel alive again. She hadn’t felt that way in a long time and had forgotten all about what it was like. She couldn’t remember exactly the last time she was truly happy. She had been the one in college who didn’t party or smoke and stayed in her dorm studying on Saturday nights. She didn’t drink unless she was all by herself and still didn’t do it in very often or in great quantities. She hadn’t gotten pregnant in high school. She had always been the studious, responsible one. But had she overdone it? Were all those years of locking herself away pouring over into her adulthood and causing her emotional grief? She often wondered what her life would be like now if she had done a bit of partying when she was younger. A thoughtful look spread across her face. It couldn’t have hurt any, not if it was just a little bit. There was no time for that now. Although she was only twenty-five, still in her prime, she was busy and had many responsibilities. She stayed late at the office when all her coworkers went out for a drink. Of course, as with the dates, she had been invited but continually refused to go. She was just that kind of person.
It was time to get some sleep. Her eyelids were already drooping so far that she could barely see to type. She staggered into her spotless bedroom and pulled off her clothes, throwing them in the dirty laundry basket in the adjoining bathroom. She slipped on flannel pajama pants and an old t-shirt from college and crashed onto the bed. It felt so heavenly as she sunk down in its feathery depths and snuggled her face into the equally as feathery pillow. Her beloved Jimbo curled up against the small of her back and purred contentedly. Soon the powerful forces of sleep overtook her and she was deep in slumberland, not even realizing that she had left the light on, not even dwelling on the fact that all of her peers were out partying.
The next morning came late. Whereas she normally woke up at six, she woke up at seven. She didn’t have to go in today, because it was Saturday and the next issue wasn’t coming out for another couple weeks. It was everyone’s day off, but she decided to go in anyways and get started so they wouldn’t end up missing their deadline and being far behind. She went through the normal routine; got up, took a shower, dried her rich auburn hair, put on her clothes and makeup. She grabbed a bagel as she left and toasted it while she set out some food and water for Jimbo.
The day was getting off to a slow start, it seemed to Lucy. It was like she wasn’t feeling her normal, energetic, full-speed ahead self. She wasn’t feeling diligent. She actually wanted to crawl back in the bed and not even go into work at all, not that she had to in the first place.
But yet again, being the type of person she was, she hastily spread some butter on the bagel, nearly burning her with its touch. She took a bite, grabbed her suitcase and left. As soon as she stepped out her apartment building’s door, she could see the old man across the street sitting on the porch of his meek little army surplus store. She smiled and waved, as she always did, and he waved back. He was like a picture out of a movie; he was forever sitting there in his old green rocking chair, rocking back and forth at the same perpetually consistent pace. Every morning and evening when she came home from work, he was there to greet her. She was thankful for his presence, but she wasn’t sure why. She guessed he represented the only consistency in her life, considering she lived like a hermit, working crazy hours and writing or reading at all hours of the night. She wasn’t fully aware of it yet, but he inspired a lot of her stories and poems. They were silent friends. They didn’t even know each other’s names, but they were friends. They’d never had a conversation, but had some kind of unspoken bond. It was simply there and understood. She managed a smile and went on her way, shaking away her drowsiness with each click of her stilettos, which were already killing her feet. That was one thing about being a boss, businesswoman, or anyone of high ranking in a big city like Washington D.C. They had to have the latest in expensive styles and brands. They had to have outfits directly from the warehouses of the hottest designers. It wasn’t that much of an issue with Lucy. She liked to look beautiful when she did go out, for herself.