Sally replaced the phone reverentially back onto its stand, ending the phone call for which she had waited an entire lifetime.
Technically the phone call hadn’t been for her at all. The silky tones of Hilary Slade, the well-respected editor from illustrious publishing house ‘Brown, Brown & Taupe’, had wanted urgently to speak to someone called ‘ Lotus Adams’.
Hilary placed a trembling finger onto the manuscript that lay before her on her desk . Her eye strayed to the letter that lay beside it, with a photo of the author clipped to the top. Lotus was perfect, so perfect that Hilary in her giddy state felt that she might almost have invented her. She was not only the very image of Botticelli’s Venus but was evidently deeply intelligent, witty and wise beyond her tender twenty-two years. She had a life perfectly shaped for a literary profile.
Her parents were separated but Lotus had grown up in her family travelling theatre troupe, playing Ibsen to itinerant Mongolian sheep herders and Pirandello to irritated New Guinea tribesman . Her parents had separated and her mother ran a small-holding in deepest Sussex, whilst her father lived in a Buddhist monastery, deep in the Himalayas.
Hilary had read Lotus’ book through the night, with a excitement bordering on hysteria before dashing, sleepless into the office in order to talk to its intriguing author.
Sally had the unhappy task of informing Hilary that Lotus was spending time with her father and would, unfortunately be away for some time.
‘But surely she has a phone Mrs Adams?’
‘No signal in the Himalayas.’ Sally had quickly replied,
‘But this is impossible, she can’t write a book of such brilliance and then just disappear’, huffed Hilary.
‘ Brilliance, you say’. Sally steadied herself against a kitchen cabinet as a flush rose up her neck.
‘Mrs Adams, I have been a literary agent for twenty years and I can say categorically that
‘The Impossible Conjectures of Slime Mould’, is the novel that I have been waiting for my entire career’.
‘But surely, if her novel is that good, you can go ahead, I’m sure Lotus would want you to publish.’
Hilary had gone on to explain, that Lotus’ youth, beauty and exotic upbringing would be the package that she wanted to sell.
‘Package?’ Sally queried.
‘Get her back here, as quickly as you can Mrs Adams’.
‘But did I hear you right, you did say that her book was brilliant?’
‘Yes, Mrs Adams, but I need Lotus’.
Sally having replaced the receiver looked up into the wall mirror above and searched for a solution. After all, the problem was a sticky one. It was so good to know that the book was brilliant and yet so bad to know that there was no such person as Lotus Adams. Sally had written the book herself and Lotus had been her own invention. After decades of unsuccessful submissions, Sally had stolen the photo of some anonymous beauty from Facebook to prove a theory that she had long held about the publishing industry. For if Hilary had seen the true face of its author attached to that manuscript, would it have made it out of the slush pile?
After all these decades of duelling with bitterness, envy and out-an-out hatred for all successful writers both living and dead, Sally couldn’t let this opportunity slip. She had some money saved, a little time and absolutely nothing to lose. There was, after all, no option but to become Lotus Adams.