The author of 'The Social Justice Warriors' Handbook' is back with a very different project.
Lisa De Pasquale isn’t just the wit behind “The Social Justice Warrior Handbook.”
She’s a conservative media personality, podcaster and freelance contributor to sites like Townhall.com and The Federalist. She’s also the author of a new book, “I Wish I Might.” De Pasquale’s latest is unabashedly “chick lit,” the tale of a young woman given the gig of her dreams … and how she rocks it beyond her wildest imagination.
She graciously allowed HiT to share the book’s first two chapters here. Chances are you’ll be hooked and head over to Amazon.com to read the rest.
“Hey Caroline, when do they start arriving?”
Caroline Presley stopped typing and sighed. “The same time I told Chloe, like, two seconds ago. Three p.m.”
“Awesome! That gives me time to raid the sample lounge!”
Caroline was annoyed, but always amused when the younger writers got excited about the aspects of life at Lilac that she took for granted. Thanks to its founder, Lila Cutler, their office was always stocked with the newest makeup and skin care products. It was a perk that came in handy for last-minute dates, happy hour, and today, the first Monday of the month. Yes, today was when Lila scheduled meetings with new and regular photographers in the area. It was a way to keep them all on their toes with fresh work. Even though most of them have been hired before, they went through the interview process every month.
What is it about photographers? Most of them are dangerously handsome punks or adorable boys next-door complete with a Golden Retriever. Both equally desired by the girls in the office. Caroline’s preference changed based on who was on time. Oddly, it was usually the punks. The adorable ones always had some excuse or just flashed a smile. She guessed the punks probably needed the money or, given that many of them were now in their forties, they didn’t have the bad work habits of most millennials.
“Caroline, I finished the event list for April! I can start pulling for May if you want.”
“Oh, that would be great,” Caroline said as she looked up at the doorway to her office.
Ok, some millennials. Caroline’s assistant, Eve, was an exception. She started interning at Lilac while in college. She was a refreshing change to the slew of young women who strolled into the office expecting to do lead stories and go to industry media events during their first week. They were easy to spot because they were constantly Snapchatting from the sample lounge. They always made up some lame excuse to go there, like, “I just need to go check the spelling of L’Occitane.”
“Actually, you can check that on the rectangle that’s permanently attached to your hand,” Caroline wanted to say.
She shook the constant internal rant against millennial work habits out of her head. Since it was indeed the first Monday of the month, she was working on her monthly email to Lila of pitches for features stories. Given that Lilac was one of the top women’s lifestyle, fashion and beauty websites, they had the luxury of including feature pieces along with the typical “5 Summer Beauty Must-Haves” and “#Whole30 Lunch Ideas You’ll Love.”
Caroline has always considered Lila a mentor and it was important to still impress her. They met more than fifteen years ago when Lila was speaking at a writing conference. Caroline had been a fan and despite her penchant for staying invisible at industry events, she decided to attend the meet and greet with Lila. When Caroline introduced herself, she was instantly charmed when Lila exclaimed, “Oh, I love your writing! Give me your email address so I can tell you about this idea I have!”
That was Lila. Despite her traditional Connecticut upbringing and transition to socialite status, Lila could be as a giddy as a teenager if something interested her. She frequently talked in exclamation points.
The next day Caroline received an email from Lila saying that she wanted to start a website for women. One that was approachable. One that didn’t discriminate against moms or career women or single women. One that featured real women writers, not just wannabe models who did sponsored content. Lila already had the capital, she just needed the content and a name. “Could they get together for lunch?” Lila had asked.
They met at a place on the water in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.
“You are so good to meet me here!” Lila said. “I get so tired of New York and D.C. Old Town feels a million miles away!”
It was six or seven miles from D.C., but Lila was right. Caroline preferred it to the city – either city. It had little shops, a view of the Potomac River, and its own personality.
“So, first things first, we need a name,” Lila said.
“We?” Caroline thought.
“I don’t want to be one of those silly women who name a charity or skin care line after themselves,” she said while biting into a fry.
Was Lila Cutler asking for her advice? Was Lila Cutler offering her a job? Did Lila Cutler just steal one of her fries?
“I get the hesitation, but those women are obviously using their names because it’s a vanity project. Half of them are starting faux businesses in hopes that a slot on Real Housewives opens up,” Caroline said.
“That’s so true!”
“But here’s the thing. I love your books and I love your brand. Millions of women do. You can’t separate that from the website if you want it to be successful.”
“Well, I can’t call it Lila. I’m not flipping Oprah!”
Caroline laughed. She was slightly tipsy on Lila’s energy and the glass of Chardonnay she insisted they order. “Ok, you’re not Oprah. Maybe half a step down. Use your initial. Call it Lila C.”
“That sounds like grade school. Like there are two or more Lilas in the classroom.”
“Was there ever more than one Lila?” Caroline asked.
“No, that’s my point! Wait, you’re a genius! I know what we do! We both get what we want. Lila, but small c. I’ll call it Lilac!”
Five years later, Lilac was occupying three floors in an office building on the water in Old Town Alexandria – one for editorial, one for advertising and PR, and one for the office kitchen, conference room, and infamous sample lounge.
Caroline glanced at the clock. It was nearly 3 p.m. She grabbed her notebook and pen. Unlike the others at Lilac, she didn’t stop to look in the mirror on the way to Lila’s office.
One by one, Lila, Caroline, and a few others talked to photographers. What had they done lately? What did they think was missing from commercial or lifestyle photography? They were all eager for work. They were hungry in the new media age. Now, anyone with an iPhone fancied himself or herself a photographer. There was also a slew of editing apps. But Lilac stood out from the other sites because it used professional photographers. Sure, some stories had photos that the writers took, especially the travel or food stories, but from the beginning Lila looked at Lilac as a business, not a socialite’s hobby. Hobbies use friends. Businesses use professionals.
“Is it just me or are the photographers getting better looking?” Lila said after the last one left her office.
“Sorry, I only have eyes for Brandon,” Caroline said. It was a running joke. Everyone knew he was Caroline’s favorite. It was true, but the routine also gave Caroline the armor to avoid the discussion over whether this or that photographer was single or what his type was. She was invisible to them, so what did it matter?
Brandon was in the punk category. He looked like he was in his early forties, but his confident demeanor suggested he might be closer to fifty. Caroline had a fondness for him ever since he showed them the series he did on shelter dogs. It was originally for a shelter fundraising pamphlet. When he found out that only the dogs he photographed had been adopted, he started volunteering in his spare time to make sure every shelter dog had professional photos. “People make a lot of judgments from photos,” Brandon said. “I hated seeing the photos of dogs behind the shelter fences knowing they would take longer to find homes. It makes them look dangerous or skittish. They all deserve the best chance at being adopted, so it’s just a thing I do.”
“Why don’t you just tell him or ask him out?” Kinsey said. Kinsey was the beauty editor. She took pride in frequently being one step ahead of other beauty editors. When they were talking about brows being the new thing, Kinsey was already over it. She was also in charge of organizing the sample lounge, which she did meticulously as if every free product was her baby that must be lovingly displayed.
Caroline rolled her eyes. “Uh, no.”
“I’m sure I’m not his type.”
“You don’t know until you ask,” Kinsey said matter-of-factly.
Caroline didn’t want to state the obvious – she is rarely anyone’s type, especially arty Mike Rowe look-alikes who hang around models all day. She just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in these other girls’ world. A world where a woman decided she was interested in a guy and he said yes – if only for a night. In her world, there was only pining and apologies for not hiding her feelings longer. When she was in middle school she confessed her crush to a red-haired boy by saying, “I’m sorry, but I like you.” The next day his friends teased him about it endlessly.
When Caroline walked back to her office, she saw Brandon standing in her doorway.
“How’s my favorite editor?” Brandon asked.
“She is ready for the day to be over,” Caroline said.
“A couple of us lowly photographers and some of the girls in the office are going out for happy hour. A girl, Chloe or Kinsey, I think, said a place down the street has watermelon margaritas. Want to come?”
Caroline smiled. She wondered if the photographers knew that the monthly impromptu happy hour with them was always the talk of the office. Their business casual rule went out the window when the photographers showed up each month.
“No, thank you. Unfortunately, I have some work I have to finish up,” Caroline said.
“Ok, maybe next time?” Brandon said.
Did Caroline detect some hope in his voice? “Yeah, definitely,” she said.
That was Caroline’s trick to avoid socializing – always follow up a no with a possible yes in the future.
As Brandon walked away, he turned back and gave Caroline a wave. He had been coming to these photographer cattle calls for a while. He saw the way Caroline looked at him when he talked about the shelter dogs. Ever since then he’s made a point to invite her along to happy hour even though she never came. The other photographers ignored her because she wasn’t like the twenty-somethings who got all dolled up for them. The other girls were hot and they were easy. Not necessarily in the sexual sense (though many were), but they weren’t thinking about marriage or kids yet. They just wanted to be arm candy. Hell, most of the time the girls bought the first round of drinks just so they could be around him. He thought the action would subside when he hit forty, but they’re more into him than ever. Thanks, beta males, he thought.
During the first couple of photographer meetings, though, Brandon focused on Caroline. If there was one thing he learned in the competitive photography field it was to always give the quiet girl a little extra attention. She was different and actually could hold a conversation despite her quietness.
As the office emptied out, Caroline turned her attention to the pitch list for Lila. She was determined to get at least three of them approved. Typically, Lila picked one out of the ten or so Caroline sent her. Last fall she got two of her ideas through. None of them had been in their daily newsletter though. The newsletter is for media bookers and others in the industry. Every morning the sales and PR team collaborate and send five or six articles. If you get on the list you’re golden. If an article hits at just the right time it can lead to countless media opportunities.
Caroline glanced at her email and noticed one from Lila.
Can you do a blurb for Chloe’s book?
Speaking of golden. Several months ago, Chloe did an article on millennial dating. It wasn’t groundbreaking, but Chloe had a sense of humor about the beta males in the millennial dating world. It was no wonder they spend the entire day thinking about the older photographers.
The article was Caroline’s idea after hearing a particularly horrid story about Chloe’s date with a thirty-year-old who lived with his parents and left her alone on the Metro after he got spooked by some teenagers who made fun of his Yeezys. Chloe did several morning radio shows and follow-up articles. It led to a book deal and Lila was over the moon because it meant Lilac writers now had four books that would hit the shelves later this summer.
Caroline’s writing would be in all of them. On the cover, actually. Caroline wrote Lila’s endorsements that appeared on the cover. None of the girls knew Caroline wrote them.
Always the diligent worker bee, Caroline wrote back,
“Chloe’s fresh take on dating is a must-read before starting a summer fling!”
Btw, my April pitch list is almost done.
Caroline took a swig of her now lukewarm Diet Coke. She gave her April list one more look, then rearranged them in the order of importance. She figured if Lila didn’t get through the entire list, at least the important ones would be first. She clicked send.
A few minutes later, Lila wrote back.
Thanks for the blurb! Love the April ideas. You didn’t have anything on dating, which usually kill in the spring. Must be the warmer temps and bare skin. We’ve done millennial dating to death. Why don’t you do something on your demo? Go on some dates!
Caroline rolled her eyes, then immediately felt badly about it. Lila and the other girls in the office didn’t understand that she lived in a different world. Caroline had given up on online dating after years of it going nowhere. As for the old-fashioned ways of meeting someone, that wasn’t an option. Caroline had never had a guy ask for her number. Friends and acquaintances never offered to set her up. Rom-coms and hearing the other girls in the office was like watching the mating rituals of another species. Like Jane Goodall, she knew all the social cues and had even been accepted among them. But, she was different and she suspected they knew it as well.
Caroline didn’t respond to Lila’s email. The last thing she wanted to do was write an article about the humiliation of not being able to find a date. She wasn’t dating material. She was the independent one who didn’t need anyone. She was the one the other girls admired, but also slightly pitied. She was the one guys told her “weren’t like other girls.” But they didn’t mean it in the romantic way, but in the best friend way. They could be themselves around her because they didn’t care about impressing her.
No, Caroline, would not be writing an article about dating. She laughed at herself just imagining it leading to a book like Chloe’s did. Now that would be ridiculous.
On the drive home, the short conversation with Brandon lingered in her brain. There was no reason for him to be interested in her. She knew if the same exchange had happened with one of the other girls it would be worthy of a thirty-minute all-hands-on-deck discussion. She knew his type, though. He thought he was so smooth, but she was on to him. Tomorrow she would get an email saying it was too bad he didn’t see her at happy hour. He would also ask her to keep him in mind for any upcoming work. Caroline wished she could just ignore him, but truthfully, he was one of their best. He lived nearby (so, no travel expenses) and always showed up early. She just didn’t like how it felt like her loneliness was a bargaining chip. And she hated that it often worked. She would find herself suggesting Brandon for a shoot just so she could be around him.
She turned up the radio as Gregory from DC 101 teased the next song, “Linger,” by The Cranberries. It was just after 6 p.m. Jack would probably be getting around to lunch. He was so busy during the day that he often ate a late lunch. Jack was the other reason she had zero interest in dating. He was her first thought when she woke up and her last thought before she fell asleep. Whenever she looks at a clock she calculates what time it is on the west coast. Is he up yet? He is the one who made Brontë make sense – “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
She met Jack a year ago during an event in Los Angeles. She was there because Lila couldn’t make it. The organizers were instantly upset when she said she would be taking Lila’s place. She suspected that’s why they ended up putting her in a hotel room near the elevator and on the opposite side of the hotel as the event. When she arrived promptly at 10 a.m., she wasn’t surprised to see that they didn’t even bother making her a name tag. She didn’t remind them that she didn’t receive a swag bag of products to try. The event was for yet another celebrity launching a line of activewear. Sizes XXS to M. Clearly, she wouldn’t be posting any photos on social media using the products.
When Jack sat down next to her, she pretended to be enthralled by the media kit, which consisted of inspirational quotes like “Be Brave” next to the celebrity spokesmodel in a sports bra and skintight boy shorts. Ha, “brave.” Show me unretouched photos of someone above a size four and then tell me about bravery. Caroline shifted her weight on the uncomfortable, standard event chair.
Jack was good-looking, but she got the sense that maybe he didn’t know it. Like he grew up a chubby kid and then blossomed in college.
“When did activewear become a thing?” he whispered to her.
Caroline stifled a giggle. “Perhaps when it became more lucrative than jewelry lines on QVC.”
“Lucky for me I get 15 percent of whatever she puts her name on. So, aren’t you Caroline from Lilac?”
“Um, yes. How did you know that? I think you might be outside our demo.”
“True, but I like good writing and you have that in spades. May I buy you a free Sportsbratini or whatever they’re serving?”
Caroline laughed. It was nice to meet someone who didn’t take these media events so seriously. If she had to hear one more person ask the celebrity-du-jour what her inspiration was for this line of whatever she might scream. The inspiration? It’s the check that allowed this company to slap her name on whatever product it wanted to sell.
Caroline and Jack talked for hours, oblivious to the catering staff that cleared the room around them. They excitedly interrupted one another. They had the same thoughts and frustrations with the media, politics, and pop culture. Caroline felt electricity between them.
“I can’t believe you’re still single,” Jack said at one point.
Caroline was always uncomfortable with the question of why she was still single when people pretended to be unaware that she was older and heavier than the average single girl. She didn’t want to be self-deprecating, but how else was she supposed to answer that question?
When he walked her back to her hotel room, she felt like the glass elevator might burst. She tried not to give in to thoughts about it being mutual. It never was.
When she got back to Alexandria, they continued to keep in touch. Emails once a week became texts throughout the day. Then phone calls sometimes lasting two or three hours. She periodically went to LA for events and always made a point to let Jack know of her plans. They would usually meet for lunch or dinner. Forget the first-class flights and five-star hotels. The highlight of every trip was the two hours she spent with him. Caroline begged herself to not think of him as more than a friend. She had been down that road too many times. Then one day she realized it was too late. He had warned her that he was busy with work and could only do a quick lunch. When they walked out to the parking lot she looked over in his car and noticed he had left his phone in the passenger seat. She realized she never saw him on his phone during their time together. It was a simple, polite gesture that meant the world to her. It was the moment she realized she might be in love.
That night he texted and offered to buy her breakfast to make up for the quick lunch. Though she desperately wanted to see him again before she left, she willed herself to say no. She texted back, “Thanks, but I should finish up some work before my flight leaves.”
Jack lived three thousand miles away and frequently talked about the women he dated. He didn’t go into detail, but it was enough for Caroline to get the picture of what his life in LA might be like. He was charming, funny, and handsome. He was a hustler with a traditional work ethic. He had a job in the entertainment industry and LA girls loved that. Sometimes Caroline caught herself thinking that no one else could love or appreciate him as much as she did. Then she would think of his smile and she realized she wasn’t special. A million girls could see he was a great catch.
Caroline had finally fallen in love, but it didn’t matter. Jack was out of reach. Literally and figuratively.
She now realized there was something worse than the general loneliness she felt being a single woman who was almost forty. It was realizing all those nice gestures that the normal, pretty girls know are signs that a guy likes you don’t really apply to her. She often found herself explaining to the other girls at Lilac what “friend flowers” are. These aren’t the flowers they get after a first date or on an anniversary or Valentine’s Day. “Friend flowers” are when a guy sends a girl flowers for totally platonic reasons. For example, she may have gotten one of his client’s good press that he parlayed into several TV hits, which then led to a TV series.
Caroline was ever-vigilant in reminding herself that platonic relationships with men could be difficult, especially when she had more than platonic feelings. The flowers, the phone calls, the texts – they were all a mirage. They looked beautiful and satisfying from far away, but there was nothing really there.
The next morning Caroline was chomping at the bit and wanted to get started with some of her feature ideas. Given her non-dating status, most evenings were uneventful. She did errands, watched TV, read, periodically looked at the clock and thought about what time it was in LA.
Lila had replied again to her April pitch list and said she wanted to talk in person when she returned later in the week. Caroline wasn’t sure if she should be nervous or excited. Generally, Lila just responded with the story she was interested in, maybe a question about another one. Now she wanted to talk in person? Was it because she hadn’t responded about the dating story?
By 11 a.m. she had brushed off her paranoia and was entrenched in work. At the staff meeting, Chloe, the fashion editor, asked for first-person stories for an article on catcalling.
“This is a problem? I thought that just happened on construction sites in movies,” Caroline said.
“No, it’s totally a problem!” Kinsey insisted.
“For sure,” Chloe said.
Others chimed in as Caroline scribbled in her notebook. Was she really feeling left out because she had never experienced catcalling? It was like she didn’t even register as a woman to the Neanderthals who shouted out “Hey baby!” or whatever it was they shouted out. She also couldn’t help but notice that the girls relished in telling their stories.
“If you would have come out last night you would have seen it,” Chloe said. “After happy hour, I was walking back to the Metro and a guy said he wanted me to suck his you-know-what.”
“Oh, was it by the new construction on Cameron Street?” someone asked.
“That guy yelled at me, too! Except even after I passed he still kept calling out to me.”
“Yeah, I think he did that to me a couple times, too. What a psycho.”
Caroline listened, not sure if they were offended or bragging. She dared not ask what Chloe was wearing. She didn’t need to.
“Do you remember that dress I got that has the lace trim and low back? Well, it can be slightly see-through on a sunny day, but that’s, like, how you’re supposed to wear it. It’s effortless chic, so sometimes you can see the outline of my nipples,” Chloe said. “Speaking of which, I want to do something on effortless chic. Like festival wear for the workplace.”
Caroline tuned out as the fashion writers started talking about their favorite looks for summer. She never had much to contribute given she was at least ten years older than all of them. She preferred to focus on features while in meetings, though she secretly devoured their articles and pictorials on fashion. She played the role of cerebral features editor, but was slightly jealous that the other editors got to think about fashion, travel, makeup, and other fun topics. She just didn’t have any credibility in those areas. She had her own style. She frequently got compliments from her coworkers, but it was obvious they had no intentions of copying her. She favored flowy Johnny Was boho tops, “skinny” jeans from Forever 21’s plus-size line, and flats or wedges.
When it came to accessories, it was all about the statement necklace. She loved pairing an oversized, intricate silver and turquoise necklace with a black top and white skinny jeans. She wore some variation of that outfit nearly every week. Her love for turquoise was recent. If she was being honest, it was because the first time she met Jack he was wearing a belt buckle with turquoise stones. A “concho,” he called it. Now she was on the hunt for chic jewelry with Southwestern influences.
“Caroline, what do you think? Will Lila let us do a feature on West Coast vs. East Coast style?” Chloe said.
Caroline knew where Chloe came down in that battle. She was all West Coast.
“I think so. Just put together a few ideas. Just make it new. No tired clichés, like New Yorkers in black and California hippy chicks,” Caroline said.
Everyone laughed. “That’s the point,” Chloe said. “New Yorkers do wear black. Californians are more laid-back. Like festival chic. I just mean it’s a different look. That’s why my style, you know, the Lilac style is a perfect combo of both.”
“And we have to talk about their beauty routines!” Kinsey chimed in.
Once again, Caroline wondered why they even bothered to ask her.
The meeting continued another hour. The meeting ended as discussion about lunch plans began to take over. As it got closer to 1 p.m., Caroline decided to walk somewhere to pick up lunch. It was one of the rare days that she didn’t bring something. Truth be told, she thought it was a waste of money to get lunch every day. She didn’t understand how the young ones did it. Many of them barely made more than thirty-five thousand dollars a year. How did they have the money for eating out every day, going out on the weekends and Lululemon? Oh, yes, the parents.
One of Caroline’s and Jack’s favorite topics of conversation was millennials. Both of them were Gen Xers in industries that attracted millennials, so they regularly indulged in rant sessions. She pulled out her phone and texted Jack.
Groundbreaking discovery from the fashion team today. New Yorkers wear black. Californians dress like hippies. You might want to notify your bicoastal celebrity clientele so they’re up on the latest trends.
She quickly put her phone away to guard herself from checking for the soul-confirming ping! signifying a response.
After she settled on tomato soup from La Madeleine, Caroline stopped by one of the clothing shops she always passed by because they didn’t carry her size. Maybe she should do her own research outside the office and see what women were actually wearing. The little bell chimed as she pushed open the door. She immediately regretted her decision because she couldn’t even pretend to accessory shop. She was surrounded by floaty dresses and sheer tops. A girl in a trendy romper sat at a vintage dressing table with an iPad that served as the store register. She looked up at Caroline, then turned her attention back to her phone.
Caroline wanted to scream, “I’m from Lilac, you idiot! Just because I can’t fit into your clothes doesn’t mean I can’t make or break your store if I wanted!”
But Caroline said nothing. For most of her life she felt like being overweight or chubby or curvy or whatever euphemism sounded better than fat caused people to stare at her. She thought they could see every imperfection and judge her for it. But as she got older she noticed something far worse.
They didn’t stare. They didn’t even make eye contact.
She was invisible.
The bell chimed again as she opened the door to leave. A group of girls was on the other side trying to come in. Unable to comprehend that Caroline needed them to move in order to get out, she held open the door and motioned for them to come in first. As she passed by, she heard the girl at the register greet them and say, “We’re having a sale today! Let me show you.”
As she walked back to the office, Caroline couldn’t resist the urge to check to see if Jack had texted her back. He hadn’t. It was only 10 a.m. there. He’s probably just getting his day started. Not that her message needed a response. She vowed not to text or email for the rest of the day.
For the rest of the day, Caroline went through the usual motions. Going to meetings. Declining pity invitations from a handful of coworkers and advertisers. Dutifully answering Lila’s emails and hoping she didn’t bring up the dating article again.
It was nearly 7 p.m. when Caroline got home. She immediately changed into her usual post-work outfit – black leggings and a comfy, long-sleeve shirt. While others in the office were doing a Bar Method class, out with friends, or on a Tinder date (using the term loosely), Caroline was already in for the evening.
She didn’t have the motivation to work out, especially in the evenings. Socializing with friends also wasn’t an option. The truth is she never really had a close group of girlfriends. Sure, in school she had someone she deemed her “best friend” for a short time, but she was never that person’s best friend. Yes, female friendships can be complicated. She thought of most of the women in her life as acquaintances. The occasional lunch or hello at an industry event, but she received no invitations to weddings or baby showers or girls’ weekends. She had no one to talk to at the end of the day. And no one to whom she mattered.
Not much had changed since she was in high school. It was before the texting era, so girls would pass notes and whisper to friends in class. Caroline didn’t have many friends, so she would keep a notebook and write to a girl named “Amy.” If someone asked what she was writing she could just say she was writing a note to a friend. It was the equivalent of the geek who had the imaginary girlfriend in Canada.
During these quiet evenings is when she thought about Jack. There were times when she let her guard down and confessed her insecurities about work and personal life to him. He listened, but dismissed them as silly given her position at Lilac. She knew he was just trying to get her to ignore the negativity, but she wanted her feelings to matter. She wanted to be heard.
After these talks with Jack she usually regretted opening up. They weren’t dating. She was supposed to be the funny long-distance friend who occasionally helped his celebrity clientele get positive media coverage. She was afraid that if her negatives started to outweigh her positives she might be cast aside.
That night Caroline waited for sleep to come as the periwinkle sky turned to black. She remembered the old nursery rhyme she used to recite as a kid.
First star I see tonight.
I wish I may,
I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.”
She smiled and remembered the ridiculous wishes she made as a kid. One night it was to wake up and find a hundred Barbies under her bed. She remembered excitedly lifting the ruffled yellow bedskirt, only to find it empty underneath. Maybe it wasn’t the first star of the night, she told herself. She might have wished on the third or fourth one by mistake. Or a planet. Wasn’t there a bright planet you could see without a telescope?
Her smile faded as she remembered her other frequent wish. From age eight or nine on she wished to be a normal weight like the other girls at school. She doesn’t remember when she stopped wishing. Maybe after the tenth time of waking up and rushing to the bathroom to see the same chubby face staring back at her.
Caroline looked at the clock. It wasn’t even 9 p.m. She threw off the covers and walked over to the window. She knew it was silly, but when a bright star caught her eye, she couldn’t help herself. She whispered:
First star I see tonight.
I wish I may,
I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight”
Caroline closed her eyes. “I wish I mattered,” she told the universe. With a sigh, she walked back to her bed and pulled the covers tight.
The first star twinkled as Caroline fell asleep.
Lisa De Pasquale is the founder of BRIGHT, an email blast you’ll want to read each weekday morning. She is a columnist and the author of “The Social Justice Warrior Handbook: A Practical Survival Guide for Snowflakes, Millennials, and Generation Z,” “I Wish I Might.” and the memoir “Finding Mr. Righteous.” She enjoys reading chick lit on the beach and taking photos of other people’s dogs. Follow her on Twitter at @LisaDeP and on Instagram at @Lisa_DeP.