Nashville, TN, USA

©2017 by Jen Holloway.

Modern Fiction

Creative Writing Sample

In Nashville, everyone talks in terms of breaks. Lucky breaks. Big breaks. People waiting for and finally getting a break. Everyone, it seems, has an angle. Waitresses who are really singers. Delivery guys who are really songwriters. Salesmen who are only working at the phone store until their merchandise business gets off the ground. Everyone is always waiting for a break. Everyone except me. I wasn’t waiting for anything when my big break happened. I didn’t even know that’s what it was.

            A little over two years after I started working at the practice, Kara called me into her office. The room was tiny but personal and warm, like Kara herself. She pulled a couple of bottled waters from the mini-fridge beside her desk, handing me one with a subtle grin.

            “Ainsley, do you like working here, hon?” I was shocked by the question, fearing it was the preamble to a reprimand or worse, but Kara’s face was full of kindness.

            “Yes, I do. Have I done something wrong?” I blurted out, wondering where the conversation was headed.

            “Listen, you’re doing an excellent job. You have all the skills, and your experience is starting to show in your polish. I do notice something about you that’s a little different around here, though. You never spread gossip. This practice is built on keeping client information confidential, and we do. But let’s face it, we gossip about everybody amongst ourselves here in the office. Everybody does it, except you.” She had an expression on her face as if I had sneakily accomplished some unfathomable feat. “You smile, and nod, I’ve watched you, but you never spread gossip. That’s rare around here.”

            “Thanks, I think.” I shrugged. “It’s just not necessary to me to talk about other people I guess. Probably a holdover from school. You know how mean young girls can be, and I always felt sorry for those mean girls’ targets.” Lie. I was one of those mean girls’ targets until I learned to keep my head down and fade into the wallpaper.

            “Well, you’re a rare bird, Ainsley, a rare bird indeed. But that might be about to work in your favor.” She was leaning in now, signaling that she was about to pull one over on someone or share a secret. It was her tell. “One of our clients, a friend of mine, works for a label here in town. She’s about to leave her job. Getting married to a copyright lawyer, so she’s outta there. You feel me?” Kara gave a wink and giggled knowingly. Clearly, the mystery woman’s path was one she had been down before, herself. “She gets a departure bonus if she finds a good replacement for herself, and asked if I knew anybody. The job is as an assistant to the Vice President of Talent Management. The biggest thing about it is to keep your mouth shut. Tight! You know? This girl has heard things that I can only imagine and couldn’t tell a living soul. So a little travel booking, organize a few events, keep the bosses happy and keep shit to yourself. I told her you’d be perfect.” She handed me a business card with a name and number scrawled hastily on the back.

            “Okay,” I was confused. If she was happy with my performance, I wasn’t sure why she was pushing me to look elsewhere. I was pleased to have a job, period. I wasn’t looking for greener grass across the fence. “I’m not sure I get it. Are you letting me go?”

            “Oh, no, no, not at all! Listen,” she leaned in again, “you have a decent job. You are great at it, and you’ll continue to get raises every year, I’m sure. But most of these girls” she waved her hand in the air pointing to the rest of the office outside the closed door,“ these girls are looking for their M-R-S degree, you feel me? The young, beautiful ones come and go until something, or someone comes along that pays more for workin’ less. Hon, that’s just not gonna happen for you. Not here. Too many shinier fish in the sea. But you and me, we know what hard work is. We can outwork all these little bitches. Hell, they ain’t had a full meal between ‘em since Obama was in office. No wonder they’re all too tired to get shit done. But you got a chance to do the same work someplace else where maybe somebody notices. Big company like that, maybe you get a chance for a little better job and a bit more money. It goes on like that, and you can get a little better life for yourself without having to rely on somebody else to do it. It’s not a punishment. It’s opportunity knockin’. And that bitch rarely knocks twice.” She nodded towards the door in a way that told me the decision had already been made for me.

 

Modern Fiction

Creative Writing Sample

In Nashville, everyone talks in terms of breaks. Lucky breaks. Big breaks. People waiting for and finally getting a break. Everyone, it seems, has an angle. Waitresses who are really singers. Delivery guys who are really songwriters. Salesmen who are only working at the phone store until their merchandise business gets off the ground. Everyone is always waiting for a break. Everyone except me. I wasn’t waiting for anything when my big break happened. I didn’t even know that’s what it was.

            A little over two years after I started working at the practice, Kara called me into her office. The room was tiny but personal and warm, like Kara herself. She pulled a couple of bottled waters from the mini-fridge beside her desk, handing me one with a subtle grin.

            “Ainsley, do you like working here, hon?” I was shocked by the question, fearing it was the preamble to a reprimand or worse, but Kara’s face was full of kindness.

            “Yes, I do. Have I done something wrong?” I blurted out, wondering where the conversation was headed.

            “Listen, you’re doing an excellent job. You have all the skills, and your experience is starting to show in your polish. I do notice something about you that’s a little different around here, though. You never spread gossip. This practice is built on keeping client information confidential, and we do. But let’s face it, we gossip about everybody amongst ourselves here in the office. Everybody does it, except you.” She had an expression on her face as if I had sneakily accomplished some unfathomable feat. “You smile, and nod, I’ve watched you, but you never spread gossip. That’s rare around here.”

            “Thanks, I think.” I shrugged. “It’s just not necessary to me to talk about other people I guess. Probably a holdover from school. You know how mean young girls can be, and I always felt sorry for those mean girls’ targets.” Lie. I was one of those mean girls’ targets until I learned to keep my head down and fade into the wallpaper.

            “Well, you’re a rare bird, Ainsley, a rare bird indeed. But that might be about to work in your favor.” She was leaning in now, signaling that she was about to pull one over on someone or share a secret. It was her tell. “One of our clients, a friend of mine, works for a label here in town. She’s about to leave her job. Getting married to a copyright lawyer, so she’s outta there. You feel me?” Kara gave a wink and giggled knowingly. Clearly, the mystery woman’s path was one she had been down before, herself. “She gets a departure bonus if she finds a good replacement for herself, and asked if I knew anybody. The job is as an assistant to the Vice President of Talent Management. The biggest thing about it is to keep your mouth shut. Tight! You know? This girl has heard things that I can only imagine and couldn’t tell a living soul. So a little travel booking, organize a few events, keep the bosses happy and keep shit to yourself. I told her you’d be perfect.” She handed me a business card with a name and number scrawled hastily on the back.

            “Okay,” I was confused. If she was happy with my performance, I wasn’t sure why she was pushing me to look elsewhere. I was pleased to have a job, period. I wasn’t looking for greener grass across the fence. “I’m not sure I get it. Are you letting me go?”

            “Oh, no, no, not at all! Listen,” she leaned in again, “you have a decent job. You are great at it, and you’ll continue to get raises every year, I’m sure. But most of these girls” she waved her hand in the air pointing to the rest of the office outside the closed door,“ these girls are looking for their M-R-S degree, you feel me? The young, beautiful ones come and go until something, or someone comes along that pays more for workin’ less. Hon, that’s just not gonna happen for you. Not here. Too many shinier fish in the sea. But you and me, we know what hard work is. We can outwork all these little bitches. Hell, they ain’t had a full meal between ‘em since Obama was in office. No wonder they’re all too tired to get shit done. But you got a chance to do the same work someplace else where maybe somebody notices. Big company like that, maybe you get a chance for a little better job and a bit more money. It goes on like that, and you can get a little better life for yourself without having to rely on somebody else to do it. It’s not a punishment. It’s opportunity knockin’. And that bitch rarely knocks twice.” She nodded towards the door in a way that told me the decision had already been made for me.