At the dentist’s office, I had only a few minutes to wait. The assistant came to the waiting room and when I asked how she was, she showed me a photo of her “new baby,” pride beaming bright like the baby’s smiling face in the photo. “Mighty young to be a grandmother,” I said. Then I added that I had had a “baby” during the past week, too. “Oh?” She knew I was the stepfather of several and that I was seventy years old. Perhaps a great-grandfather? I pulled out one of the wistful blue-green cards announcing Elizabeth’s Story-If Truth Be Told. Coming in 2017. “It came out this week,” I said. “A novel.” She was pleased and impressed, and added that the young girl who assisted, cleaned up, in-training in the back had also written a novel. Three, in fact, two of them sequels. “Couldn’t put them down,” she said. I asked where the girl published them, and got the response that they were not published, the girl had simply shared rough drafts. “Three books?” I asked if it would be okay to speak with girl, about publication or getting some help in finishing up the drafts, with a view toward publication. The woman assured me it would be no problem.
When I had finished my check-up, no cavities or problems, I felt fortunate. Blessed, even. Before meeting with the girl, I went to my car and got one of the two proof copies of the book, plus found a copy of my 2013 memoir to share as well, particularly the “Meeting Ivory Rose” chapter, about how I stumbled across self-publication information. The girl was very shy, very young, perhaps nineteen or twenty, slender fingers, thin features, and a gentle and soft voice, almost apologetic. I barged right into my pitch, “I hear you have written several books. Unpublished so far? I hear they are very good. Engaging,” and I went on, making any meaningful response unlikely. I indicated the two books I held, my books, and told a little about the chapter from the memoir, concerning publication, and then asked if I could give her a copy of my new novel. I had no pen and asked if she had something I could write with, sign and add something in the front of the book. She handed me a pencil which left light gray scratches on the paper, but I went ahead. “What’s your name?” I asked, prepared to write a small inspiration in the front, hopeful.
“Elizabeth,” she said. The universe stopped for a moment, an insignificant coincidence and connection. Or was it? Planets aligned, birds flew north with the spreading warmth, the clock on the dentist’s wall stopped ticking, a battery giving up after thirty-one million prescribed pulses. “Elizabeth,” she said again, as I had not scrawled any words into the book. I showed her the cover, Elizabeth’s Story.
“Everything is connected, you know. Nothing is coincidental. Nothing. Not me. Not you. Nothing.” We talked about publication for a minute or two, and I left. The parking lot was warm and welcoming. An easy drive home. Satisfied and easy. Everything connected. Wistful and silent.