Friday, June 30, 2017

First Draft Friday: Milo

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

first draft, incomplete, 1,424 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Milo Francis was a mild mannered,boring, administrative assistant type. He does nothing, goes no where, and talks to no one for the most part. In the morning, he eats his cold cereal while watching the local morning news, alone in his one bedroom garden level apartment. Then he drove his compact hatch-back through two hours of bumper to bumper traffic for a forty mile journey to his office. He doesn’t listen to music or talk radio. He was alone with his thoughts of which there were little.

He’d been told he was a simple man. Normally by girlfriends who seemed to like it at first but eventually they drifted away for something more complex.
At work he did his job quietly and diligently. He worked in the offices of an It management group. His title was administrative assistant. That’s just a fancy term for office clerk. Or gopher. He made copies and collated, he alphabetized files but didn’t actually file, he stamped and packaged out-going mail but he didn’t handle the incoming, he placed and collected the management provided lunches for the office every Friday. He found it hard to quantify what he did everyday. So he just didn’t talk about it. This solution worked as there wasn’t anyone for him to talk to at work and he had no friends.

Milo ate lunch alone everyday. He did this mainly by design.  He ate his lunches very early and took his break late in the afternoon. This is when the break room was the emptiest and he wasn’t surrounded by other peoples cooking smells or the sounds of the mouths masticating. He couldn’t stand the sound of other people eating

Technically he shared his office with a file clerk but she worked only part-time and spent most of that time in the file room. There was one receptionist who answered the phones and dealt with incoming mail and deliveries. She worked on the first floor and Milo rarely spoke to her, mostly because he received no calls, messages, or mail. Most of the rest of the workers were supervisors, technicians, and managers. They were too busy to make friends with the quiet man in a lonely small office at the end of the hall. They had more of a relationship with his inbox and email than they actually had with Milo himself.
Milo wasn’t much better at having friends in high school either. His mother hadn’t understood what they problem was, mostly because there was no real problem. Milo was great at making friends. Everyone liked talk to him. But when he had nothing to say back, they like the girlfriends, drifted to people of more substance.

After work, Milo ate dinner a sports bar not far from where he worked. When he first started working his office mates use to go to the bar for happy hour and invited Milo along. Eventually the bar changed their happy hour specials and people started going else where. But Milo liked their BBQ pulled pork and beef brisket as well as their crispy thick french fries. The tv’s blared sports broadcasts loud enough to cover the sounds of the other people. Milo had a couple of beers and waited for traffic to thin out. His commute home took less than an hour.
In the evening he was partial to tea. He drank several cups while watching prime time television. He didn’t have any one show he watched regularly, he flipped around finding episodes he might like. A lot of the time he ended up watching Food Network.

Not too early and not too late, he showered, put on pj’s and went to bed.

At this point, you might be asking why anyone would tell a story about Milo Francis who is so utterly unremarkable and dull that his everyday thoughts and moments would bore any other living person to tears. The answer? Because everything in his life is about to change.

One day, it doesn’t matter which, Milo’s phone rang. At the first ring he jumped a little in his chair. His office was silent, the door being shut against the outside office noise, that the brash telephone sound was like a bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky. On the second ring he still wasn’t quite sure what was happening. There was no reason for anyone outside the office to call him, he didn’t even think his mother had his work number, and his colleagues would find it quicker to im or email him rather than pick-up the phone. He couldn’t think of another time anyone had ever call him.

He answered on the third ring. “Milo Francis,” he said. Even his greeting was bland.

From the other end came the sultry voice of a woman. If people could purr it would probably sound something like this stranger’s voice. “Do you dream of paradise?”

“Excuse me?” This was not at all what he expected.

“Paradise is waiting for you.”

 “Are you trying to reach someone?”

“Don’t be afraid to accept this extraordinary offer to a paradise like no place else on Earth.”

“Miss? Is this a sales call? I’m sorry I’m not interested in a vacation deal at this time.”

A not quite static-y silence emanated from the phone set.

There was still silence.

Milo looked at the phone and held it to his ear again.

No breath sounds. No clicks. No barrage of noise from other telemarketers in the back ground.

Only silence.

He slowly hung the phone up. Then he just stared at it. He fully expected it to ring again. He’s hung up on telemarketers before and they always call back. More than that, he wanted her to call back. He wanted to hear that voice again. Listening to the disembodied voice was like being wrapped in warm silky chocolate. It may sound crazy but he had a sneaking suspicion that he wanted to listen to that voice for the rest of his life.

That night, after watching food network again and taking his routine shower, he lay in bed still thinking of that voice. He tried to envision what the person attached to the voice would look like but he was a man of little imagination so he couldn’t conjure an image. All he could picture was a phone.

The next day it would be fair to say the previous day’s phone call felt more like a dream than reality. The mundane steps of everyday life overwhelmed whatever fantasy he could muster and the mystery voice was just a vague memory.
Until the phone rang again. It was about the same times as the day before because he was just about to go on break again.

Could it be? Could the stranger calling to entice him to paradise again? He never received calls at all, so two days in a row, near the same time? It had to mean something, he decided. He answered the phone.

“Milo Francis.”

“Do you dream of paradise?”

He listened this time. Was it a computer? A telemarketer?

“Paradise is waiting for you.”

Again he listened. There was no background noise, no music or tropical breezes. There wasn’t even the sound of breathing.

“Don’t be afraid to accept this extraordinary offer to a paradise like no place else on Earth.”

“Ok,” he said at last.

Just like the day before there were no clicks, no hold music, no more questions or instructions or vacation offers. There was nothing. He spent his 30 minute break listening to silence on the telephone.
If during the day the even was at the back of his mind, during off hours, it was the only thing on his mind. While at the sports bar, over dinner, despite the beers, on the sommute home, whil watching Food Network, in the shower, and in bed.
What kind of call was that? Was it some kind of joke from the sales team? He didn’t very often have opinions about people, but the sales guys were kind of jerks. The very thing that made them good at sales, talkative and outgoing, made them generally mouthy and loud when they weren’t tyring to sell you something. More than once they’d made fun of his lack of love life. Admittedly the jokes stopped when Milo had no reaction to them. He neither fought back or joined in the laughter, he just was. Sometimes he would flatly respond, “Ha, Ha, guys.” But that was all. Would they do this?

Thanks for Reading!