“[…] We were forced to take shelter, for want of an umbrella, and it was so we found ourselves inside Trincity Mall. We decided to browse while we outwaited the rain.
“It was then I noticed a man behind a little table, the sign behind him reading ‘Earl Lovelace’, in a swirly, elegant font…”
Fourteen-year-old St Joseph’s Convent (Port-of-Spain) student Kassidy Gaulteau is our seventh shortlisted fictional writer for the inaugural Wired868 Write Start competition. Her essay is in the 11-15 category entitled ‘The day I met my local hero’:
The day I met Earl Lovelace, it was completely coincidental. It was a lovely March day, the wind carrying yellow poui flowers all around me in a spiral, so I felt as though I were some sort of magic, a faerie-queen.
My mother and I were walking along the sidewalk, headed home after a morning of errands, and nature itself seemed quietly content. But all this dissipated in a few moments when I felt a drop of something fall onto my head.
I looked up into the so-recently-lovely sky, which had turned against me and my happiness so quickly. The rain began falling in earnest then, with such force that it felt like tiny bullets hitting our skin, and I was cold all the way through in my soaked clothes.
We were forced to take shelter, for want of an umbrella, and it was so we found ourselves inside Trincity Mall. We decided to browse while we outwaited the rain. It was then I noticed a man behind a little table, the sign behind him reading ‘Earl Lovelace’, in a swirly, elegant font.
The sign also informed me that he was there to talk to aspiring authors, and to sign books. I was something of an amateur writer myself, and dreamed of one day being a published author, with all the hope of an eleven-year-old.
I had read one of his books before, The Dragon Can’t Dance, and that was what had inspired me to be proud of my Trinidadian heritage, and to draw on it for my writing. I found his prose lovely and poetic, and tried to imitate it in everything I put to paper. He was my hero.
I practically squealed in excitement and pointed towards him to show my mother.
“Don’t point,” she hissed at me, pulling my hand back down. “It’s rude.”
Now, I obviously had no Earl Lovelace books on my person, for this was a completely unexpected situation, and one I was utterly unprepared for. My mother and I, after some short discussion decided to pay a visit to a bookstore in hopes of acquiring such a thing.
The first two stores had no copies of these books—but the third! We went straight to the counter, and enquired about their stocks and if they had any Earl Lovelace.
The cashier got up to go to ‘the back’ (which seemed a mysterious place full of knowledge). To me and my impatience, it seemed an eternity. Couldn’t she see the urgency of our inquiry?
I was practically vibrating at this point, when she emerged with a copy of The Dragon Can’t Dance clutched in her hand, which she proudly presented to us. My mother paid hastily, while I rushed off with the book, hands digging into it like a lifeline. But when I returned to where my hero had been, he was gone. The table was still there, but the sign and the man were suspiciously absent.
I looked around anxiously, searching for any sign of the old man, but he had left, seemingly for good. My mother arrived after me, having been in less of a hurry, and found me in a state of grief for my ungotten signature. She tried to comfort me, but I was inconsolable.
The rain had ceased outside and the sun was out again in full force, as if in mockery of my current mood. I slinked outside sorrowfully. I was so not paying attention to my surroundings that I walked straight into a man.
I rushed to apologise and when I looked up at his face—it was him, Earl Lovelace, looking down at me friendlily. My apology trailed off.
“Earl Lovelace!” I exclaimed in shock.
“That’s my name. What’s yours?” He asked all this rather kindly.
“Jade,” I said, which was something of a lie, for it was my middle name, although everyone called me by it.
Although I was suddenly feeling nervous, I summoned up the courage to hold out the paperback in my hands. “Will you please sign this?” I asked, so fast that the words ran together.
“Of course,” and he gently took the book from me. My mother scrambled through her purse for a pen and triumphantly handed one to him.
He carefully wrote something on the inside cover, while I told him how much I admired him and wanted to be an author myself. We had a short conversation, which concluded with him wishing me luck on my journey to become a writer.
He returned our items and with one last smile, was off. Later, when I checked the book, I saw what he had written:
To Jade. May you achieve your dreams. I believe in you. Earl Lovelace.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 will announce the winners of the inaugural Write Start competition on 13 December 2021. The first place winner will get TT$6,000, a six-month mobile plan from bmobile, and two complimentary movie tickets to CinemaONE.
Click HERE for more information on the Wired868 Write Start prize structure and do share your favourite essays!