It's based on a true account of rejection letters I've received in the course of trying to publish a novel. I've taken some license with the dialog with my roommate's consent.
I held the two envelopes in one hand, the other fumbling for the keys. I couldn’t stop looking at them even to unlock the door. The key scrabbled briefly against the lockplate and I rammed the door with my shoulder before I’d even turned the key. Two envelopes, addressed to me in my own jerky handwriting.
Inside I dropped my bag to the floor and walked into my room, turning on the air conditioner and sitting on the corner of the bed. They were too thin to be anything but rejections but I still felt a tingle of hope as I opened the first one.
Dear author, it said. My eyebrows furrowed as I read the rest. Dear author, after printing and mailing everything on real paper.
I dropped the rejection on the bed, telling myself it was a good sign that at least this one was on letterhead and signed by a real person. Email form rejection was much less difficult. Maybe because email itself is so informal. An email without a salutation was almost expected.
I opened the second one, still frowning.
It had my name on it.
It was a rejection. And an apology for being a form letter, but it had my name and a scrawled signature at the bottom.
I pressed it to the bed next to the first one and looked over at my dresser. The two rejections from the day before were there. All of the agencies that required paper queries had been in the city and were coming promptly back. I didn’t stand up or reach for them. One was a tiny slip of paper with the name of the agency and a brief no thanks stuffed into my own query letter, the other was another 'dear author' signed with the name of the agency.
A key rattled in the lock. It turned first one way and then another, and then back again, an agitated sound. Because I’d forgotten to lock the door.
I stood up and looked back at the bed, picking up the rejection with my name on it. I was standing in the doorway when the door opened and my harried roommate lurched through the door with an armful of bags.
“Hey,” she said, pushing the door shut and locking it.
“Hey, I got two more,” I said waving the letter slightly.
She looked confused for a second. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
“No,” I shook my head and held it out to her, “this one has my name on it.”