"The truth of life is, fate never quite turns out how we think or hope it will. We struggle through life, blind to the plan it has for us. Forces beyond our control that we can never quite identify usually end up taking us far away from where we ever thought we'd be. In the end, we end up clutching to these fantasies like a hallucinating madman, until we let it go and come to terms with our reality. If we're lucky, our reality finds us in better circumstances than we'd hoped for ourselves."
"In my case, it was nowhere near what I had planned. One of the very few wise words my mother imparted upon me before her death were these: 'If you ever want to hear God laugh, tell him the plans you have for your life.' I can't say I ever truly believed in God. I prayed to him through pregnancy test after pregnancy test, through three miscarriages, two rounds of in vitro, and the death of my husband. However, believing in God is entirely different from praying to him. Anyone can pray to an idol. Believing is having faith. In my case...faith was always in short supply."
With a somewhat grim expression, Irish McCourt slowly shut the book and gazed out to the crowd from her podium. Her hair, a red-laced tone of chestnut brown, was pinned away from her elegant features and shined beneath the meager spotlight, which only served to accentuate the handsome planes of her visage. The author was known to be striking to look at, but beyond that was a sense of intelligence. However, laying atop all of the good qualities was a thick layer of cynicism that even the most untrained of eyes could spot. The light caused her brown eyes to sparkle with amusement at the people before her.
Iris merely hoped that the excerpt she'd decided upon hadn't been too terribly bleak.
A sign colored in highly contrasting hues, "Award-winning author Iris McCourt signs her best-selling autobiography Saving Face! Pick up your copy today!" was placed outside, announcing her presence. Iris McCourt. It was hard even for her to believe at times, that she'd come far enough in her career to gain this much recognition. She was becoming a household name. Her name was being said on the news for the nth time since she'd written her first best-seller ten years ago.
The crowd turn-out really had been quite fantastic, Iris mused. Somewhat impressive for such a small-town bookstore at the very last moment. She would make absolutely certain her agent was thanked heartily. These small, impromptu appearances along her book tour had only served to heighten public opinion of her. "Illustrious Author Visits Village!" The last penny-saver had proudly stated. Iris had clipped it out with a small, happy smile and carefully placed it in a large scrapbook that had been tucked neatly into her desk drawer at home. Something about that article had briefly produced warm, affectionate feelings in her that she assumed were long dead.
Slowly the stately woman made her way down from the podium, her nude-colored heels tapping delicately against the light wooden floors. She was greeted by two particularly enthusiastic young fans. One, clearly early in her twenties and sporting pigtails as a testament to that fact, spoke up first.
"Forgive me if I'm being too forward, Ms. McCourt, but...I love your autobiography. I recently went through a miscarriage myself and the completely visceral way you describe the sense of...emptiness. I cried for an hour, but after I finally stopped...it was like a healing moment." Her voice was high-pitched, but that wasn't what bothered her. Iris winced at the word "visceral," one she'd particularly always disliked; however, she was elated that her fan base connected with her so personally. A rare smile rose to her features.
"I'm very happy you could find some use for my sad little stories. It's a bleak world indeed when we have to--Oh. E-Excuse me."
Iris glanced down when her phone began to play the familiar jingle that seemed to come preloaded on ever single smart phone. Blushing in fake embarrassment at the faux pas, she excused herself as she glanced towards the spotless touchscreen. Turning away and wandering towards the center of the room (which had become unoccupied rather quickly), she answered. She hadn't recognized the number, or the clear voice that rang out on the other side, piercing through her thoughts at once with the urgency of it's owner's tone.
"Hello, this is Erin Locke from Immaculate Heart Medical Center in Bridgeport, I'm looking for a Ms. Iris McCourt."
"This is she." Iris responded at once, her voice presenting itself in short, clipped tones, annoyance very evident.
"Ms. McCourt, I'm afraid to report that your sister Tabitha has been in an accident..." Iris' grey eyes widened as the voice continued and the phone slipped from her fingertips and fell to the floor, causing a noise to echo throughout the small lecture room the bookstore had provided. Several sets of eyes turned her way as Iris buried her face in her hands, trying unsuccessfully to stop the tears that rolled down her cheeks, smearing her mascara and turning her face into a garish display, one that equally matched the pure, despaired sob that tore from her throat, chorused by a chant of, "No, no, no, no!"
One life had left the world, and another goodbye was added to a life that had seen far too many.