After the Blackout

Chapter 11 of Life After 30

Maya slowly opens her eyes.

She quickly closes them again because the light is too bright and this time she has a throbbing pain in her head.

Her other senses come into play and she realizes that she’s not in her own bed. The sheets are stiffer and she can hear a faint beeping sound. 

Maya squints out of her eyes and sees that she’s in a hospital room. She lifts her head up to look around, but as slow as possible, as to not further agitate the pain in her head. 

Lindsay sits in a chair next to the bed. She’s asleep, her head rolling across her chest. 

“Lindsay, hey Lindsay.”

Lindsay wakes up with a start. 

“Oh Maya! Oh thank god you’re ok!”

“What the hell happened last night?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing.”

“What do you…”

“Your speech? Calling out Karolyn? About to fight Karolyn but knocking into the waiter instead? Do you remember any of that?”

“Shit” Maya says as she puts her hand to her forehead and lies back on the pillow. “Ouch,” when she feels the lump. “That was bad.”

“It was really bad. Rebecca made sure you got to the hospital okay but after that, she was… cursing you out… a lot.”

“Shit, shit, shit. I seriously fucked up.”

“I’m sure if you told her you were sorry… very, very sorry… and apologized to Karolyn too–”

“Fuck Karolyn.”

“Look, I know you don’t like her, she’s not my favorite person either. But last night was kind of out of line. She was really upset.”

“What does she have to be upset about? She has everything. Her life is perfect. So what if I called her out? It’s the truth. Doesn’t change the fact that my life is shit.”

“Your life may not be going the way you want it to, but it’s up to you on how you react to it. And to be honest, you’re not handling it well.”

“Well how should I be handling it, Lindsay? You also seem to have the perfect life, everything is going well for you, just like you wanted. How could you ever relate to me?”

“You know my life hasn’t been easy, Maya. You’re my best friend, you of all people know what I go through.”

Maya doesn’t say anything and she doesn’t look at Lindsay. 

“I’ve always had your back on everything. But this time, I can’t. You’re on your own with this when you come back to work.”

Lindsay gets up to leave. 

“If I knew you were going to be this sour when you woke up, I wouldn’t have stayed for you. I let your parents know that you were here. They’re on their way.”

Once Lindsay closes the door on her way out, Maya lays back down and stares up at the ceiling. 

Shit, I was kind of a bitch. But fuck, what’s going to happen at work when I get back?

A knot of worry forms in her stomach. If she loses this job, there’s no way she’ll be able to afford her place anymore. And she couldn’t dare to think of asking her parents for help. 

And then what is she going to after? Find another publishing house to work in? Would she be able to get hired? Word travels fast in the publishing world, no doubt others have already heard what happened. Not a great look. Especially for someone who had lead editor in her grasp. 

Just when Maya was about to roll over and plant her face in her pillow, her door opens and her parents walk in. 

“Maya! Oh thank god you’re awake!” Her mom rushes to her bed and gives her a hug. Her dad waits for them to break before going in for his hug.

“Hey,” Maya tries to fight back the tears that were about to come before they walked in. 

“We’re so glad you’re okay, honey. Lindsay told us what happened.”

“We can’t believe you got into it with Karolyn Keats.”

“Well, almost. Lindsay said Maya collided with the waiter before they could do anything to each other.”

“Do you blame me though? She was waving her engagement ring all over the place. Not to mention, she was acting like she was better than me for being an author.”

“Oh, she’s getting engaged? That’s nice.”

“No, Mom, it’s not nice. Not nice at all.”

“Why, because she has one but you don’t? Are you still upset with Will for breaking up with you?”

“Well of course she is, their break up was still pretty fresh. Especially after being together for 8 years.”

Maya picks at a snag in the blanket. “I think I still have a right to be upset that Will broke up with me after all that time.” 

“Sure honey, but don’t let it affect other parts of your life. You got a lot of good things going for you.”

“Apparently, after last night I might not even have this job anymore.”

Maya couldn’t look at them when she said this. How could their only daughter fail so miserably all at once?

“Oh Maya, what matters is that you’re okay. You’ll figure out how to get back up again.”

“And we don’t know for sure yet if you lost your job.”

***

“Maya, glad you could make it into work today. Please, have a seat. Let’s chat.”

Rebecca motions for Maya to sit across from her. 

It was Wednesday morning, a few days after the whole incident and a day after Maya was let out from the hospital. She was feeling herself again, but that knot in her stomach had gotten even bigger as she made her way to work. There was no telling how this was going to go. 

Maya had passed Lindsay on her way in, but Lindsay ignored her. Maya was hoping to get an idea of what was going to happen from her but she couldn’t blame Lindsay for still being mad at her for what she said. 

“So,” Rebecca folds her hands over her desk. “I hope you’re feeling better.”

“I am… at least my head is. And the hangover is long gone. But I can’t lie, I was very nervous about coming in today.”

“I have to say, you’re very brave for coming back. I commend you for it.”

Maya nods, but she knows she’s not in the clear just yet.

“I want to let you say whatever you need to say first.”

Maya takes a deep breath and looks at her hands before taking her gaze to Rebecca. 

“I’m so sorry for what happened last night. That is certainly not a reflection of my character or how I would be as an editor, if I still had that opportunity. I regret that I embarrassed Karolyn Keats. She didn’t deserve it. I’ve just been having a tough time grappling with something that happened in my personal life. Some things aren’t going as planned… and I feel like I’m falling behind in life.” 

There’s a heavy pause between them before Rebecca continues. 

“Thank you for your apology. I also hope you’ll take the time to apologize to Karolyn as well. Maya, have you ever heard of the line, ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’?”

Maya shakes her head. 

“John Lennon wrote that. Things are going to happen to you that’s beyond your control. And it might mess up your plans, your goals. Set you back beyond what you could imagine. But when one door closes, another door opens. You just have to start looking at the other doors.”

Rebecca takes a deep breath. 

“I’m sorry to hear that things aren’t going well in your personal life. But I suggest to start looking around you and find things that you are grateful for first. It could make moving on a lot easier and clearer for you. And I’m sorry to say that after what happened a few nights ago, I can no longer have you at Big Book House. Our authors need to feel comfortable with our editors and unfortunately Tess McHan had her reservations about working with us after your outbreak. And we just can’t lose her.”

The knot in Maya’s stomach traveled to her throat and became a lump. She just needed to keep it together until she got outside the office. 

“I am very sorry to hear that Tess felt that way. But I understand your decision.”

Maya gets up and she offers her hand to Rebecca. 

Rebecca stands up and shakes it. 

“Look at the other doors around you. You’re a very hard worker and a determined person, Maya. I have no doubts that you would bounce back from this in no time.”

“Thank you, Rebecca. It was a pleasure working for you.”

Maya turns and heads out the door, letting one tear escape down her cheek. 

Come back every Friday for the next installment of Life After 30!

Just a Few Words

Chapter 10 of Life After 30

An hour and several tequila sodas later, Maya was effectively drunk. 

Drunk, but functioning. 

Everyone was sitting down to a steak and lobster dinner when Rebecca came up to the stage with a microphone. 

“Good evening everyone! How are we tonight?”

There’s a good hefty cheer in the crowd.

“Great! I’m glad you’re feeling good. We all should be. Big Book House has always been successful but the next few years will be our best yet!”

Everyone cheers again. Maya sips her drink, sort of paying attention. 

“And this is mostly thanks to our assistant editor, Maya! Maya, will you come up here and say a few words?”

Maya is definitely paying attention now. She gets up from her seat and grabs her drink before walking toward the stage. 

Getting drunk before saying a few words in front of everyone in the company plus our authors… maybe not the best situation to be in… 

Maya makes it to Rebecca and takes the mic from her. I’ll just have to see where this goes.

“Thanks Rebecca,” Maya turns to face the crowd. Her coworkers and clients, dressed in their most fabulous attire, look back at her.

“I’m so happy that recruiting Tess McHan has gotten us to enjoy this fancy party! Cheers!”

Maya takes drink with everyone. 

She pauses, and decides where she wants this to go.

“I’m going to tell you something about me that a lot of people here don’t know. I used to want to be a writer. Oh yeah. I had big dreams in having my own words bound in books. To you authors out there, I know what it takes to get rejection letter after rejection letter. It’s not fucking fun. ”

She spots Karolynn in the crowd. Maya feels her blood boil again. Or is it the tequila now? 

“But some authors have a fucking easy time getting published, don’t they? Especially when they’re not that good. How does that happen? There’s always that one non-talented writer who gets a few of their books published and it’s left me wondering, how did they fucking do that?”

The guests starts to look uneasy and Maya can feel some whispers float through the crowd, but she ignores them.

She’s on a roll.

“Oh, I’m not saying Tess is not talented. I signed her, I know she’s amazing. This book is going to be big.

“No, I’m talking about other non-talented authors. How do they do it, is what I want to know.”

“Case in point, Karolyn Keats. I’ve known her since college in our first creative writing seminar we had together. We pretend to be friends, but we both know we hate each other. We all know her writing is mediocre at best. So how did she do it? How is she already about to publish her third book?!”

Everyone is silent now. Maya is looking directly at Karolyn. Karolyn is not looking happy and Maya is feeling thrilled. 

“I know how! She went to her fucking rich daddy and asked for his help! And I don’t mean he helped lick the stamps for her inquiry letters! Everything always comes fucking easy to you, Karolyn! A fiancé, a mansion and two published books with one on the way? Well, let me tell you something! My boyfriend of 8 years might have broken up with me last night and I never fulfilled my dream of being an author. But at least I’m going to be a fucking lead editor for the biggest fucking publishing house in the fucking United States thanks to signing on fucking Tess McHan!!!”

At that point, everyone starts talking and Karolyn stands up in an angry fit. 

Maya drops the mic, finishes her tequila soda, and throws that down on the stage, where it shatters into a million pieces, and runs off stage. 

Karolyn runs at her.

“You fucking bitch! You’re right, I do fucking hate you!”

Maya ducks to avoid Karolyn’s punch, but while doing that, she runs into a waiter with a full tray of water glasses. 

The waiter, Maya, and the tray of water fall to the ground, and Maya’s head hits the floor. 

Come back every Friday for the next installment of Life After 30!

Another Party, No Problem

Chapter 9 of Life After 30

With some concealer under her eyes, a nice hot shower, and downing some leftover tequila from the party, Maya was feeling herself as she arrived at the Diamond Resort. Or feeling something, for that matter. 

Heading over to the ballroom where the party was happening, she ran into Lindsay.

“Hey! There you are! Glad you made it,” said Lindsay, giving her a hug. She was wearing the gown they found together. An off the shoulder, dark green velvet top with a tulle skirt. 

“Wouldn’t have missed it. This was all because of me anyway.”

“Totally.”

Lindsay and Maya walk in to the vast room and were instantly greeted with a glass of champagne. There were tables full of all kinds of food, a giant chocolate fountain, and an open bar. There was a DJ playing music to try to get people out on to the dance floor. There was a photo booth with goofy props and a huge light up sign that said BIG BOOK HOUSE at the front of the stage.

“Wow, Rebecca sure went all out,” Maya said as she sipped her champagne. 

“This is incredible,” awed Lindsay. 

“This is what happens when we get a big name client,” comes Rebecca’s voice from the right. She’s holding her own glass of champagne and wearing a red cap sleeved dress that went to her knees. “And you made this happen, Maya.”

“I’ll do anything for a party,” Maya laughs. 

“And here’s the guest of honor now,” Rebecca walks over to Tess, who had just entered. She was wearing an elegant gold jumpsuit, silky, but structured and cinched at her waist. She also has a champagne glass in hand.

“Is this a book publishing party or a celebrity after party?” as Tess gives them all a hug. 

“We go big at Big Book House,” Rebecca raises her glass and they all cheers. 

Maya gulps down her champagne. Lindsay eyes her but doesn’t say anything. 

“Oh, I almost forgot. Maya, would you mind saying a few words later? Just to make the official announcement about Tess?”

“I would love to!”

“Perfect! Well, enjoy yourselves ladies. Tess, this will be a great change for you to meet the other authors at Big Book. They’re such a great group and I think you’ll fit right in.” Rebecca leads Tess away. 

Maya heads toward the open bar. 

Lindsay follows her.

“So… how are you… from last night?”

Maya shrugs, “Oh, you know, embarrassed beyond belief, but I think I’ll live.”

“Everyone was shocked. We couldn’t believe he would dump you during your party, and with you two being together for so long. Who knew he would be such a douche bag!”

Even though Maya was going to along with the story that Will broke up with her at her party rather than before for just a little longer, (at least until the end of the night) it was still hard for her friend to talk about Will that way. 

“I wouldn’t call him a douche bag exactly–”

“That’s fine if you don’t want to, but I will.”

“What I want is another drink,” Maya says as they reach the bar. 

“Can I ask how many you’ve had before you got here?”

“Oh, you know, just one while I was getting ready– I’ll have a tequila soda, please.”

“Okay then”

“Okay then, are you going to order a drink?”

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

“Except you have what I want already”

“What’s that?”

“A husband! I’m 30 and have to start all over again! What kind of cosmic joke is this?”

“Hey, better to happen now than 10 years from now and you’re dealing with a kid”

“But this was the Plan. Will was supposed to be it. We’re so perfect for each other.”

Maya and Linsday get their drinks from the bartender and they cheers. 

“Are you going to try to win him back?”

“I think it’s hopeless now. He was pretty defiant last night.”

“Might not be worth it anyway. If he didn’t want to marry you last night, he might not ever.”

“Wow, thanks for the pep talk, Lindsay.”

“Oh, you know what I mean! You can find someone so much better!”

“Maybe…”

“Maya! I’m so surprised to see you here!” comes Karolynn’s voice from behind. 

Both Maya and Lindsay roll their eyes together before turning around and putting on a big fake smile for Karolynn. 

“Karolynn! Two nights in a row, aren’t we lucky,” exclaims Lindsay. 

Karolynn insists on a double cheek kiss for the both of them. 

“If I was just dumped by my boyfriend of 8 years, I would be crying my eyes out into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s right now. Good for you for getting out so soon!”

Maya takes a sip of her tequila soda. A long sip. 

“Well, you know Karolynn, at least this girl’s got a career going for her. Success isn’t all about when you get engaged.”

“Oh, I completely agree! We women have to focus on other things besides getting married. And finding the career path that works for us is one of the most rewarding feelings. I’m so happy for you that you found something you succeed at.”

“Thank you! And you know, we wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for me. I signed Tess McHan. The next J.K. Rowling.”

“That’s what I’ve heard. So great… for an editor’s assistant.”

Maya’s blood is boiling at this point, the sarcasm becoming harder to disguise and control with every remark.

Karolynn smirks, knowing what she’s doing to Maya. 

And for the icing on the cake, Karolynn lifts up her left hand, palm faced toward her, making her large engagement ring glisten in Maya’s face. She’s also wearing a slim watch, the face of it on the underside of her wrist, in that superior-than-thou way, that she glances at. But that’s not the real reason why she lifted her arm up.

“Well, I should be meeting Ronnie pretty soon. He had to come directly from work. I’ll see you ladies later.”

As Karolynn glides away, Maya lets out air through her teeth.

“It took everything I had in me not to slap her.” 

“I’m surprised you didn’t. I would have.”

“I’m about ready for another tequila soda.”

Come back every Friday for the next installment of Life After 30!

The Aftermath

Chapter 8 of Life After 30

A few in the crowd gasp. 

Maya noticed that Will sputtered out his champagne. 

She waits to see what he’ll do, but the pause and the sputtering weren’t encouraging so far. She can feel her heart pounding in her chest. 

She could feel all eyes on both of them, mainly Will, waiting for his answer, the expected answer of “yes” because they are together after all. Been together for years. Why would he hesitate?

“Maya,” Will starts. 

Maya holds her breath. 

“I told you we would talk about that… soon. Remember?”

“What’s there to talk about? I love you…”

Will keeps his composure. 

“Just, now isn’t a great time, you know that.”

All of the sudden, Lindsay cuts in, addressing the crowd. 

“How about the rest of us get back to the party. Sounds like Will had different plans and they need to work this out.”

Lindsay turns the music back up and goes to a group of people and starts to engage them in a conversation to get the attention off Maya and Will. 

Will walks towards Maya and leads her to the empty kitchen. 

“What the hell was that?”

“I thought that– you were so–”

“Yeah, I told you I would pretend that we were still together. That’s what I would have done if we were.”

“We can still be together. You can change your mind.”

Will shakes his head. “No, Maya. I’m not going to change my mind. I’ve had enough, I’m leaving.”

Will makes his way out of the kitchen, picks up his jacket, and leaves. 

Lindsay walks in, “Hey, were did Will go?”

“We broke up,” Maya says bluntly, grabbing a wine bottle on the counter and not bothering with a glass and takes a drink. 

“You broke up?? Because you proposed and he didn’t? That’s some bullshit”

“You’re telling me.” She takes another drink. She should tell Lindsay about their deal. But right now she really didn’t feel like getting into the whole thing. Right now, she wanted another drink.

“So, what do you want to do? Do you want these people gone?”

“To be honest, I don’t fucking care.”

Maya takes another sip of the wine.

***

Maya slowly opens her eyes.

She quickly closes them again because the light is too bright.

Then she starts to feel the pounding in her head at full force and she groans. 

Starting to feel her surroundings, she realizes that she’s on the couch. And her back is not thankful. 

Maya tries to open her eyes again, this time a lot slower. 

Streamers and balloons are limping from their original positions, most of them pulled down and strewn across the floor. 

Wine and liquor bottles litter the coffee table. 

What a mess. How did this happen?

She tries to think back. 

Flashes of downing some tequila, rapping horribly to “I Don’t Fuck with You”, and pulling down some of her own decorations. 

And Will came to her mind. 

What was she thinking? There was no way Will would have gone for that. Big public gestures wasn’t this thing. 

And now everyone knows. Everyone must know. And Karolyn. Jesus Christ. 

Maya sits up and rummages around the cushions and finds her phone. 

Text messages galore. 

Lindsay – Hey girl, let me know when you wake up. I would have stayed but I had to get ready for the work party tonight. Love you!

Karolyn – Sorry about what happened, babe. Dating life can suck after 30, wishing you the best!

Will – I’m sorry you’re taking the break up hard but I think it’s best we don’t talk for a while. Take care of yourself. 

Maya texts Lindsay back. But shit, she forgot about the work party happening later. She’s just going to have to go hungover. 

And Karolyn can suck it. 

Will. She officially pushed him away. What can she do though? After what happened last night, the best thing she could do would be to respect his wishes. 

Maya now makes the attempt to get up. She’ll do her best to clean up and then get ready for the work party. Maybe getting some pampering before will help with the hangover. 

She may not have a boyfriend anymore and probably embarrassed herself thoroughly last night, but at least she still has a career.

Come back every Friday for the next installment of Life After 30!