The next week Jacob spent every waking minute trying to convince his bosses that this author was the next Murakami. “It’s too edgy”, some would say. Other would say, “What even happened to her? Can’t understand what to make out of this story”. And some would give a more logical debate, “Readers don’t like books that have no endings”. But Jacob knew that this book would move people as much as it moved him. And now he was too deep into it to back out. After a series of sessions and narrations, Jacob managed to convince the editor that this was his shot at making it big and also the author’s. But that’s where the first roadblock came into the way. The author could not be traced. The manuscript was dropped off at the office by a scheduled dispatch and the author or the person he dropped it off left no contact. This gave the naysayers another chance to pull the book down.
“Why do you want to give some stranger all of this adulation and attention, when clearly he doesn’t want it?”, said Ms. Jordan asked him.
“Because we don’t publish someone to make the author famous we publish a work of art that needs to be shared with the world, something that has potential to make a boy reading this book in school have the strength to stand up to his bullies. I have read this book over 20 times already and I have this hunger in me that can push me over the bridge. And I might just go over trying to get this published. Because the world needs something like this.”, Jacob said.
It was only a second after Jacob finished that he realized he wasn’t the one who said that. It was the woman in his head. This was the first time that she took so much precedence over him that she even controlled his speech. It was unnerving yet comforting because She spoke his mind better than he, himself could.
Ms. Jordan did nothing but smile at him, a warm smile that gave her answer away. A book launch was arranged the very next week with a full-fledged marketing campaign on the hunt for the author. Once convinced, the marketing team thought this would do wonders for the sale of the book as well as the publishing house. Jacob on the other hand was only wondering if the author would ever come to fore.
It was around the time of the launch of the book that the woman with those chipped nails came into Jacob’s mind again. And the woman in his head made sure she never left. Having done the main job of editing and readying the book for its launch all Jacob had to do was wait. So in the meantime he decided to ask Ms. Jordan about the mysterious girl.
“Quite a young lady she was. A real city chick but total unfit for the city. Have you ever heard of something like that? She could whistle and hail a taxi at 5th Avenue and Broadway like a pro but couldn’t stand the idea of working in a cubicle all her life. I mean look at the nerve of the girl, she told me that I maybe the CEO but I’m still working in a rat hole and spending my weekends drinking wine with the same people talking about peace and karma while cautiously avoiding talking about self like flowing water avoiding the big rocks!”, Ms. Jordan said.
Jacob was a little shocked to react. And he kept quiet waiting for her to say something more or rather just forget why he asked her this. For if she questioned him, he wouldn’t have an answer. He still doesn’t know why he wants to find out more about this woman he ran into.
A warm smile appeared on Ms. Jordan’s face as she walked out of her seat and looked over the bustling streets of the city below.
“But I can never forget her. Not a lot of people have the guts to say it as it is you know Jacob? Which is why I like you too. You have that same quality in you. Sometimes when I hear you speak it’s like I’m listening to her. You both speak the same language. Like your thoughts were written with the same pen.”, she said. After a brief pause in which Ms. Jordan rummaged through her desk. She pulled out a small piece of paper from a worn leather diary and handed it over to Jacob saying, “Somewhere I always knew you’d come asking for her. Don’t ask me how or why. I’ve seen people for far too long, writing stories of themselves and their lives in words and phrases meant for others. Now go and find her. Thank her for giving me the chance to meet a pure soul and bring her back in time for the book launch. She’s the owner of the book. Her mother wrote it. I’ve known all along but she made me swear to keep it a secret. Somehow I feel you’d have found out anyway, so I broke my promise”, she said.
Stunned, I took the piece of paper that had an address and a number.
“One step forward, two steps back” whispered the woman again.