Is this what failure is? Poor little doll-faced Lizzy, she didn’t win the prize! Working on the story for ages, every morning that laptop on top of her lap, eyes squinted, fingers trembling, ‘with passion’, she would say fervently, raising a hand, ‘they are trembling with passion!’; so she would say to Karen, not just anyone: to anyone she was reticent, barely mentioned that story being tip-clip-top-typed away each morning as the sun’s wispy strands of hair would stream through the window and drape gently over her back; though she thought (she knew!) she would win, yet she didn’t mention it, not to anyone but Karen, to whom she would show evidence of her strained nerves and claim, ‘passion!’ But Liz didn’t win, saw the results this morning with a drained pale face then flushed pink one and got up and went to her room; just a contest in the end—but is it failure as well? Is that it then, is that it done? (‘it’ being the attempt, the head-butting, glory-driven, passion-pushed, adrenaline-accompanied attempt of distinguishing oneself permanently and forevermore in the eyes of the world; as quick as possible!; for then the move towards death can continue with ease).
Elizabeth Shoemaker had failed at her writing. No, just at this one story, her mother would say, pushing her hands into Elizabeth’s back, massaging her into silence; and, what a word, ‘failed’! You haven’t failed at anything! You simply…haven’t been successful. Which is failure, one, or Elizabeth in this case, could point out, but didn’t, because her mother clearly thought she had struck on something rather profound, this apparent difference between ‘failing’ and ‘not being successful’, this grey area where one is nothing at all; one is merely seated on children’s plastic chairs, watching parents scurry about with warm words and cups of tea, surrounded by grey walls plastered with cheery posters that read ‘Everyone’s a winner’. A dreadful place to be!—and yet, Elizabeth knew, she was not even there; for she had failed. She had shut her eyes, refused to read the posters, and fallen through the ground into a dim dank hole where most of humanity crouched, pathetically, nibbling at the remains tossed by those on high.
Oh no, this sounded far too dramatic!