Ellen Paar was probably the only human being on the planet to associate the sunset with anxiety. The other beach-goers lingered in the waning light, paying no mind to the colorful clouds as they drifted along the horizon, only to be swallowed by looming darkness an instant later. Couples held hands as they strolled across the shoreline, blissfully unaware of the sun sinking lower and lower in the sky; It’s glaring orange hue burned brighter with every pass. Another day gone with nothing to show. Another step closer to her editor’s prodding phone calls.
After another unproductive half an hour, she heaved a sigh and surrendered to exhaustion, folding the lid of her laptop shut with a surprisingly satisfying click. Those four haunting words she had used to begin so many stories before still swam behind her eyelids; even as she let them drift closed for the first time since 9 a.m.
“Once Upon a Time…” And then what happens, hmm? The deadline is tomorrow, you’ve got to come up with something!
She gritted her teeth, clutching the sides of her beach chair so her knuckles matched the pale shade of the full moon coming into focus. This was her last night of vacation, and she was determined to enjoy it.
Somewhere between the lapping of the midnight waves against the sand, and the late Florida breeze whistling through the air, Ellen let herself relax.
Just as she was drifting off, her shorts began to vibrate. She pried her eyes open and fished a hand in her pocket until it grasped the cool metal of her cell phone. When her blurry vision cleared enough to make out the caller ID, she bit back a frustrated scream and gnawed at the inside of her cheek.
Alicia. Her editor.
Damn it if authors ever got a real vacation.