That First Time

That First Time
Image provided by Jesse

I’m hoping to show improvement in my skill with descriptive narrative with something of my own creation.


The gutter of the street was littered with paper, Styrofoam cups, and cigarette butts. Maura Kendal hurried along the wide sidewalk trying not to cough as she breathed in the fumes from the cars and buses whooshing by her on the downtown avenue.

She had only one and a half blocks to go before she’d be inside the building of Becker and Straut Publishing House. She had worked long hard hours for this to finally become reality. When she had mailed her manuscript to them, her doubts kept her up at night. She had visions of a letter telling her she should find something else to do with her life. When their letter came, she was positive her story had been rejected. After all, only a month’s wait was unheard of in the business. Yet, the joy was overwhelming when she read the first sentence. Her manuscript was accepted. Now she had to sign all the legal papers that come with publishing.

As soon as she got past the heavy door leading into the general lobby, Maura gulped in air. It wasn’t like being in a meadow somewhere, but it certainly was better than what was out on the street. The entryway’s decor was purposely fashioned to make people feel inferior. Inlaid cherry wood paneling covered either side of the foyer and went up several stories. Brass stair rails led the way to the upper floors on polished wood stairs. The back wall was a conglomeration of  pictures of some of the most famous authors the company had as clients.

Maura was making herself dizzy as she whirled around taking in all the grandeur. Hastily, she gained her composure, straightening out her black suit, and adjusting the burgundy-colored bag hanging from her shoulder. According to the board next to the stairs, Thomas Lecht’s office was on the second floor.

As she walked up the stairs, thoughts strayed to the question of where the elevator might be in the building. Climbing one flight wasn’t a problem, but what if his office had been on, say, the seventh floor? And what if she had been in a wheelchair?

Lecht’s office door could be seen from the second story landing of the stairs. Her high heels clicked noisily as she made her way across the  spacious but empty hall. She checked her  ensemble again standing on the plush rug outside his door. She turned the knob, opening the door without a sound. An attractive woman sat at the reception desk typing.

The woman turned around and greeted Maura by name. “It’ll be a couple of minutes, Ms. Kendal. He’s on the phone.”

Maura smiled and took a seat across the walkway from the desk. Although the office was nice, it didn’t compare to what was outside the door. Mr. Lecht’s certificates and diplomas hung in two columns on the beige wall to the left of his inner door to his office. To the right of the reception desk there was a fern in a stilted pot, with a generic landscape picture above it.

His door opened. Thomas Lecht gave Maura a cordial smile. When she stood, mentally she guessed his height to be six feet or better. He had a full head of blond hair turning gray. “Come in, Ms. Kendal.” He moved his stance sideways to allow her to pass.

He started the conversation with the business at hand as soon as both of them were set at the round table in the corner. “Please read these documents before signing. Becker and Straut want you happy so we don’t want you signing anything that you’ll regret.”

Maura did as she was told, making sure to read the fine print. The papers were standard practices of the publishing business and were clearly stated. After all the documents were endorsed, she watched him as he put them into a purple folder with her name neatly typed in the corner.

She had established the working relationship she had been working toward for the past three years.


Yes, another unfinished piece. Some day I may get the gumption to finish them, including strong editing.

I welcome all advise, even if it means trying to write this all over again.

When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man. ~Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670


3 thoughts on “That First Time

  1. Since you’ve given me the invitation to make suggestions, I am going to offer some. As (I think) I pointed out before, take these with a huge grain of salt. I don’t write this kind of prose. I’m letting you know what would make this read better from my point of view. Since you read the stuff I write, you know that point of view has a tendency to be skewed away from the norm. OK, here we go:

    I would put the “Styrofoam cups, cigarette butts and paper…” up front in the opening paragraph. I think it paints the image without making me build the scene up from the street.

    Similarly, I would begin the second paragraph reversed: “Becker and Straut Publishing House was only one and a half blocks away…” and like that.

    I love the emotional quality of: “The entryway’s decor was purposely fashioned to make people feel inferior. Inlaid cherry wood paneling covered either side of the foyer and went up several stories.” I’m not sure how to do it, but I would get that out from deep within that paragraph. That is a powerful description. I might also change ‘was’ to ‘seemed’ to bring me inside her head, but I’m not sure if that’s where you want me.

    I would go with: “She straightened out her black suit, adjusted her bag…and hastily tried to regain her composure…” or something more active. I think, if you build the action into the description, you could drop “hastily” and just rely on my imagination to envision the pace. When I can feel the pace quicken in someone’s writing, I become engaged.

    I like the image hinted at by: “with a generic landscape picture above it”

    I hope this helps, but remember, this is me, not the great minds of the literary world, speaking.

    Liked by 1 person

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