When I got home, Suzie was feeling a lot better. She and Mom were laughing in the kitchen as they were getting dinner ready. "I see you survived!" Suzie snickered as I wandered in with a smile on my face.
"Yeah. We had a good time."
"You what?" Mom gasped.
"Really, Feona is kind of nice."
They both blinked again and watched me as I opened the refrigerator. I whistled a few bars of "What a Wonderful World," closed the door, and plopped down at the table, staring off into space.
"I'd still like to go back tomorrow, for a bit, even if you're feeling up to it, Suz," I added when my wandering gaze met their unbelieving stares.
"Uh, sure," Suzie giggled as they gave each other that "will wonders never cease" look before they shrugged and went back to their conversation.
"Oh, we got the corrections off to the printer today," Mom called as I wandered off to my room, still in a thoughtful daze.
"Oh, that's nice," I said absently, but I wasn't paying any attention. I was busy replaying Fifth Grade in my head. And as I watched it happen all over again, I couldn't help seeing it in a different light, and I knew I was finally starting to grow up.
I went to see Feona Fitzenwahler every day that week. She really was a nice person, and I realized more and more that she really did help me to get myself to learn something back in Fifth Grade. And it really did help shape me into the person I had become.
Time passed by as it always does. One night the next week, Dad announced that the printer had called and the book was all printed. They'd be binding at the end of the week, and the books would be on their way to us a few days later. We were right on schedule. We'd have books a good two and a half weeks before Christmas.
We were ecstatic. Especially because we'd also gotten several replies from reviewers who were going to run stories on the book. But none of the bookstores had replied. Mom called some of the big chains and they told us they'd only go through certain distributors. They gave us a list.
We called one of the distributors. If our book was lucky enough to be chosen by their rigorous editorial committee, they would offer us a consignment agreement, and they would order the books at 55% off the list price, with no charge for shipping.
Dad hung up the phone. "NO WAY!"
He called another distributor. It was the same story. He hung up a little less violently, and called the next one on the list. They were all the same.
We did a little figuring on the calculator. "Well, if we don't spend too much to market the books, we should still make a profit," Mom sighed.
We called them all back -- we had to do whatever it took to get into the bookstores. No one would take us seriously unless the bookstores carried our book.
We sent them xerox copies of the book and crossed our fingers. This could still work out. "Once the book catches on, then we'll be able to set our own terms!" Dad said, trying to assure us all.
We all believed it. We really did. "Yeah," I cheered. "Then they'll all come crawling to us!"
We were filled with determination and anticipation and...
And then we got the phone call that crushed our hopes for the book and for our future.