Posted in NaNoWriMo, Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 187: X-Amount [NaNoWriMo]

Short Story Sunday 188: X-Amount

            Nate knocked on my office door and poked his head through the crack. I didn’t bother to look up from my computer screen. I was in the middle of a sentence, so I continued to type. I was relieved that Nate knew I wasn’t ignoring him, I was just focusing. He quietly came into the room and placed another mug of coffee on the corner of my desk. To show my thanks I continued typing with one finger on my right hand and I took a sip of the freshly brewed coffee with my left hand. Then I continued to speed type with both hands again.

I heard Nate chuckle, but he remained where he was.

Okay, it was nice of him to bring me a coffee and all, but he could go now. NaNoWriMo was over in just three days and I had some serious catching up to do. I was only one day behind in my word count, but I wanted to get ahead as much as I could. I wanted to finish before November 30. I wanted to validate my word count, sit back and relax while everyone else in the world scrambled to get their own counts in at the last minute.

Nate knew this was the home stretch and he did a pretty good job just silently giving me more caffeine and sugar, but for some reason he was just standing next to my desk watching me a weird smile on his face.

When I finished the scene I was on, I allowed my fingers to rest. I took another sip of coffee and looked at my boyfriend.

“Thank you for the refill.” I said.

Nate nodded. He still smiled creepily at me.

I peered into the mug wondering what he did to my beverage. I shook my head placing it back down on my desk. Nate didn’t do anything, I was just tired. Though he was acting really suspicious.

“Can I help you with anything else?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” Nate shrugged shaking his head. “I’m here to help you, remember?”

“Sure,” I said.

Silence again.

I looked back to my computer screen. Maybe if he thought I was getting back to work then he would turn around and leave. I started typing the next paragraph and Nate remained staring at me.

“Okay, what are you doing?” I stopped typing in the middle of my sentence and stared at Nate exasperated.

“Are you almost done?” he asked eagerly.

“Almost,” I sighed.

“How many words do you have?”

“About 43,000,”

“Wow!”

“Is that all?” I asked, trying to keep a calm tone, but he was really annoying me.

“Are you on par for today?” he continued.

“No. I need about 45,000 words for today.” I replied.

“Don’t worry, you can do it!” Nate exclaimed fist-pumping the air.

I stared at him with a raised eyebrow, but didn’t say anything else. Yes, he had helped me when I went through my week two slump and he had encouraged me to catch up when family events got in the way and I had to skip a day or two of writing. I knew he was excited that the end was near, but I couldn’t be too sure why.

Was he happy that he would finally have my undivided attention again once this was all over? Or was he actually happy for me to accomplish something?

“Nate, do you mind?” I asked as politely as I could. Though not too polite so that he wouldn’t get that I was becoming frustrated with him.

Nate frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Do you mind if I keep working?”

Nate looked behind him and then back at me. What was that for?

“Uh, sure,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Thank you–” I smiled and then frowned as I watched him sit down on the couch. “—What are you doing?”

“You’re almost done, right?” Nate asked.

“Not really…” I muttered.

Nate pursed his lips together and then looked down at the ground.

I sighed. I knew this month was rough for me and Nate had been there for me to push me through every single obstacle and he was there to cheer me one with every small accomplishment. What have I done for him during the month? Not much, that’s all I can say.

“Nate, we can watch a movie or something tonight if you want. I just want to try to reach 46,000 words and then I’m all yours.” I said.

Nate grinned from ear to ear. “Great! But I think you meant 45,000 words.”

“No, 46,000 words. I want to try to get a little bit ahead for tomorrow.” I leaned back in my chair and pointed to my laptop. “That way, I’ll only need to write 4,000 words tomorrow and than I’ll win. I’ll be done for the month two days before the actual end.”

Nate cheered standing up and doing a little jig around the coffee table. I couldn’t help but laugh at him as I took another sip of my coffee. I got a small drop and then stared at the bottom of the mug with a frown.

I didn’t even realize that I was still drinking the coffee while talking to Nate.

Nate took the mug from me with a sweet smile. “I’ll get another refill for you. You get back to work.”

I grinned turning my attention back to my laptop. Nate walked out of the room and closed the door. I started typing as fast as I could go. I wanted another coffee, but I wanted to be quicker than Nate if I could. The last thing I needed was for him to be hanging around me again.

I woke up extra early the following morning. It was a Tuesday and both Nate and I had called out of work. I wanted to be sure to finish my word count and Nate wanted to celebrate with me once I reached 50,000 words.

It wasn’t until that morning that I realized just how much strain NaNo was for Nate as well, even though he wasn’t even participating in it. I had neglected him for the majority of the month, as well as the rest of the house and even work, and he had been giving me more attention that he normally did.

It was no wonder that he was bothering me the day before. He was probably eager for the month to end just as much as I was.

So, that was why I woke up at five o’clock in the morning. I knew Nate was going to end up sleeping in to at least seven, so that gave me two hours to write as much of 4,000 words as I could. The less Nate had to wait around for me to finish, the better.

I was a fast typist and if I focused hard enough I could potentially write 4,000 words in the two hours before Nate rolled out of bed. Of course, I was extremely tired. Nate and I had watched three movies the night before cuddling on the couch and we didn’t go to bed until late. I wasn’t sure how long I had before my eyes would start to cross over themselves.

I was determined, though. I was able to write about 1,500 words in the first hour. I accepted that. I wouldn’t finish before Nate woke up, but that was okay. He wouldn’t have to wait for me to write 4,000 words, which was the main thing.

I wrote for another 30 minutes. It was 6:30 in the morning and I only had 2,500 words. I took a sip of my coffee and drew in a deep breath. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write 1,500 words in a half hour, but I was sure going to try.

But then a knock came at my door. I looked up and there was Nate.

“Hey, sorry to interrupt. Do you need a refill?” he asked sweetly.

I couldn’t help but smile. “Sure, that would be great.” I couldn’t believe he had dealt with me for this entire month waiting on me hand and foot while I sat at my computer all the time.

I knew it was going to take Nate all but five minute to refill my coffee, so I tried to type as quickly as I could before he came back into my office. I was making typos left and right, but I think that was also because I was tired, not just because I was rushing.

“How many words do you have?” Nate asked.

I jumped. I didn’t even hear him come back into the room. I took the mug with both hands brought it up to my lips. I smelled the coffee and smiled. The smell of coffee always brought me right into heaven. It was wonderful.

“I have about 1,500 words left.” I said.

“Oh, wow!” Nate exclaimed. He put his hands up as though he was surrendering and headed back towards the door. “I’ll leave you be while you finish up.”

“Thanks. I think I may only be another hour or so.” I said.

Nate gave me a thumbs-up and closed the door behind him. What I didn’t realize was that he was sitting just outside the door waiting.

Once an hour had come and gone, he asked, “Are you done, yet?” through the door every five minutes.

I wasn’t sure why, but that last 1,500 words was so hard to reach. It could have been because I was so close to the end that it was dragging on. Or it could have been that I had written so much in such a short amount of time that my brain was fried. It also didn’t help that Nate was interrupting me all the time, even though he wasn’t coming into the room anymore. I seriously regretted telling him that I may have been only another hour.

“I’m getting there…” I groaned through the door once he asked if I was finished for the fifth time.

I took me another 20 minutes, for whatever reason, but I did it. As soon as I saw my word count at the bottom of the screen say “50,000” I immediately stopped and cheered.

Nate barged into the room. “Did you do it?!”

“I did it!”

We both hugged and danced in circles in the middle of the room. If anyone happened to walk by they would think I had just won the lottery or something. I had a brand new novel to edit, though, so in a way, it was like winning the lottery.

“What do you get now?” Nate asked.

“Well, after I validate it I get a certificate!”

“That’s it?” Nate deadpanned.

I chuckled. “There are also special offers and discounts from sponsors. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but you have to remember that I now have a completed novel. That’s 50,000 more words I wouldn’t have had if this month wasn’t NaNo.”

“So the book is its own reward, pretty much.” Nate nodded.

“Yes,”

“Well, I have something for you.” Nate ran out into the hallway and then brought in a tray of cupcakes. Was he just sitting on the floor with cupcakes in the hallway this entire time?

He put the tray down on the coffee table and each frosted cupcake had a number on them.

“I’m confused.” I shook my head.

“There are 30 cupcakes here; each one has the word count you reached at the end of each day.” Nate said proudly. “I wanted to give you something special for winning and… Well, you obviously didn’t eat enough sugar during the month.”

“This is awesome!” I clapped. Then I pointed to a blank cupcake. “What about that one?”

Nate took blue icing out of his pocket. “50,000. Would you like to do the honors?”

I squealed excitedly. I took the icing and wrote “50,000” on the cupcake. You could barely read it as the cupcake was too small to fit it and my handwriting, especially on frosting, was horrendous, but both of us knew what it meant and that was all that mattered.

“Thank you for everything, Nate. You really have no idea how much I’ve appreciated all that you’ve done and put up with this month.” I said giving him a hug.

Nate laughed and picked up a cupcake. “I got cupcakes out of it. Let’s eat!”

I picked up the 50,000 cupcake and held it up. “Cheers!”

Words: 2,097

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!
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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

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