The lady across the street was outside. We liked her, even had an affectionate nickname we called her behind closed doors, dealing with the amount of tobacco she could ingest in one short sitting. Her dog is four years old, a terrifying looking beast that is sweeter than honey.
She - the dog - is best friends with our puppy. He used to be afraid of her, but now that they're the same size, he likes to run as hard as he can to make her chase him. She bites him on the ruff and leaves long tracks of drool. Great.
We don't say much to each other while our dogs visit. It's merely a companionable moment of time, filled with excited canines and banalities.
Her head turns to me, blonde hair dancing slightly in the breeze. "So," she asks, awkwardly. I feel a moment of alarm. This seems like the intro to a Big Question. No place for that in our banalities.
"What exactly do you do?"
I glance down to the pavement. I'm a little ashamed, to be honest. I'm not where I thought I'd be when I finished college 6 years ago - graduating a semester ahead of my incoming class. I spent three years in a foreign country, seeing the world and learning about myself. I grew up, but what do I do? It was a question that struck fear into my heart.
I cleared my throat, stalling. "I... deliver pizza." I said it, but it sounded hollow. She blinked at me, as if I were lying. Trust me, I thought, with a vocabulary like mine, I understand your confusion.
"Oh." Seriousness sloughed away. She was content with the answer. "Okay."
Tell her the truth, my conscious whispered. Tell her what you really do.
I shouldn't hide it. I should tell her. My conscious was correct - why was I afraid? Did I think she would judge me? What did I care? If I spent all that time across the ocean and couldn't even stand up for my beliefs, what had I really learned?
I cleared my throat again, meaningfully. My voice exploded from my mouth in ringing tones, surprising even myself.
"Wait," I boomed, her back was starting to show to me. I might lose my moment, the window where I could show I was not a coward. She looked back, a wary query in her eyes.
I squared my shoulders and took a deep breath. "Actually, I am an author."