“Did you read my blog today?”
The question made Vaclav shudder. He knew the question was coming eventually, but it didn’t help him prepare an answer.
“No,” he said. He felt like a criminal awaiting judgment.
“You didn’t? That’s okay. You can read it later when you get home,” said Ismene. “Just remember to comment.”
Vaclav’s mind raced. He wanted to network. Networking’s important. At least that’s what reads everywhere. But he’s a writer. Writers write and readers read. Then again, good writers also read great writers. That’s how to become great. But Ismene? Her writing is schlock. Sappy, romantic stuff about the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. If he wanted that feeling he’d eat bad shrimp.
At that moment Vaclav noticed the silence. He saw a desperate longing in Ismene’s eyes. How long had he been daydreaming?
“What’s it about?” he asked, carefully.
Her face brightened. “I’m so glad you asked. It’s about a lonely girl who meets her true love way up north in Iqaluit. She’s there to teach English and he’s a hunter who’s running away from the loss of his first wife by wandering the vast pack ice. She was killed in Winnipeg by a drunk driver, who happened to be my heroine’s brother. So far I’ve got three hundred and fifteen ‘likes’ and about seventy-five comments. Isn’t that awesome?”
Vaclav’s mouth hung open. Really? he thought to himself.
“It’d mean a lot if you’d comment on my story,” said Ismene.
“Why?” Vaclav wasn’t sure if he said that out loud.
“Because you’re a great writer,” said Ismene, with a lilt in her voice. Her eyes were doe-eyed. She smiled so sweetly he was about to sign over his life savings.
So thats how you network, he thought.
“I’ll read your blog if you promise to read mine,” said Vaclav.
Ismene’s face morphed from sweetness to bride of Frankenstein. Her lips curled and nose crinkled.
“It’s just that,” said Ismene, “I don’t really get your writing. It’s brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I just don’t always, I don’t know, what’s the word? Appreciate it.”
“The last post I read was something about knowing you’re old if you think music peaked twenty years ago. You think music peaked in 1993?”
“It’s a satyrical piece. It’s about the relative perspective of aging. And I publishing that five months ago,” said Vaclav.
“See what I mean?” Ismene said with a pained expression. She reached out and touched his arm. “It’s okay. Writers need readers. So read mine, okay? Look at the time. Got to go. Bye.”
Vaclav watched Ismene leave. He thought about moving to a secluded ice pack.