As Shiona scuttled across the dry pavement to the publishers’ on a windy Thursday, she hoped, just hoped that her piece would be accepted.  She knew it was nothing special or anything, just a bit of random scribble that entered her head at the oddest time, but it was worth a shot.  She walked cautiously through the door, calculating each step carefully, afraid to make too much noise.  She looked around, and found herself alone, in a small, welcoming room.  There was only a desk and two chairs, one on either side of it.  A small woman comes into the room, smiling warmly when she sees Shiona.  “Hello, you can call me Adrianna.  How can I help you?”  the woman is a warm, welcoming type of woman, not at all the sensible and strict woman that Shiona knew.  She was pretty too, with soft auburn hair and tan skin that perfectly set off her emerald green eyes.  “Um, yes, hi… I would like… I mean I was wondering if you would…”  Shiona breaks off, once again scolding herself for being so unable to speak normally, like everyone else.  Why can’t I be confident in myself, just for this one moment?  She wonders painfully.  No matter how many times she thinks that, it still hurts.  Insecurity never goes away.  Shiona tries her best to break away from her thoughts, and hands Adrianna the papers in her hand.  “Here,” she says, avoiding eye contact.  Adrianna takes the papers, and flips through them without reading them.  “OK then, I’ll read through this, and let you know,” she says with a charming smile.  Shiona instantly feels disappointed.  She knows that there isn’t much chance of the small publisher publishing her work, especially since that sentence usually means, “Thanks but no thanks, see ya later.”  Shiona just smiles and says, “Thank you,” in a small voice.  She leaves, slouching over, and trying not to make much eye contact with anyone.

A week later, Shiona receives a text on her mobile, and glances down nervously at it, expecting the worst.  It doesn’t come.  Instead, a feeling of joy and relief and happiness sweeps over her as the best, most unexpected news of all comes.  Tears of joy spring to her eyes, flowing down her cheeks freely, and she doesn’t wipe them off.  After all this, after all she’d been through, the insecurity, the sadness, the pain, she finally meant something.  Shiona, the lonely one, the misunderstood one, Shiona, the sad one who hides behind a smile, finally matters.  She lets out a careless scream of happiness, as she smiles for real for the first time in ages.  Only months later, the story of the month was “Dark”, by Shiona Tomas.

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