The room overflowed with studious clutter. The bookshelves teetered under their stacks, like a weary Atlas, sending rivulets of texts to the floor. The Works of Josephus, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, and a smattering of books on the Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears. There was a shelf devoted to French, beginning with pocket travel books and ascending to Dumas and Le Petit Prince.
The bare, visible ledge on each shelf was thick with dust, made stark by the tracks made as the bodies of books were dragged to and fro their berth. The dust denoted the age of each reading. The thicker dust harkened back to ancient times, those first few years of college, while the lighter scuffs told of recent use, of senior classes and theses and favorites.
The computer adorned a battered desk like an artifact on a temple altar. The dust only freckled the monitor, but further back into the dark shadows were rabid dust bunnies, growing and accumulating. A cereal bowl sat to the left of the screen, in crude symmetry with the mouse pad on the right. The putrid scent of souring milk hung in the air, heavy, and mingled with the sweaty tumble in the nearby laundry basket.
Muffled, a cheery jingle cut through the somber morning light. Opposite the computer, the mountain of blankets muttered and collapsed into a caldera. The song ended, cut in mid-tune, and two seconds later the beat resumed in a knocking drumbeat on the door.
“Go ‘way,” growled the caldera, stirring, awakening against its will.
Emboldened, the knocking grew louder. “I know you’re there,” said the high feminine voice on the other side of the hollow wooden door. “Let me in, please.”
“Sylvia, honestly. What do you think they said? Do I look happy?” He glared at her, his brow fierce.
She touched his knee with reverence. “You’re the smartest guy I know. It’s not just that you graduated summa cum laude, either, you know. You’re always learning, always full of interesting things to say. It’s not your fault that the job market sucks right now.”
Sylvia tilted her head. “You could still move in with me,” she said softly. “You know I’ve offered before, and I know your mom would be upset and all about you living in sin and all, but…”
BETH CATO is a stay-at-home mom to a very busy three-year-old boy. Her existing sanity is preserved by working on novel manuscripts and short stories. BETH and her family now reside near Phoenix, Arizona. Her website is BethCato.com and her email is: email@example.com
"Several months back, the "nanoljers" group on LiveJournal used the word "rejection" as a prompt. I thought on it for a few days, and I recalled a wretched job interview I had with Taco Bell back when I was 19. I already had an AA degree, but I was desperate for a job. It hurt terribly to be rejected, even if my pride was relieved in a way. I decided to channel that experience into a story that many college grads could relate to all too well."