"Steve, anything exciting happen this week?"
"Not much, just our apartment almost caught on fire."
We then had to explain what had happened on Wednesday. I noticed as I went for drink refills that the other tenants of our building were telling the story to their respective tables as well. You can read the details here. I learned two things from this event: firstly, my siblings who live in Provo are educated and watch the news, and secondly, they care enough to call immediately after watching the news when they find out a man tragically died in my building. Our apartment itself is fine, we suffered nothing other than panic.
After that was out of the way, the conversation continued into the mundane no man's land that conversations are wont to wander, such as "What are you studying?" or "When do you guys graduate?" Both are very safe questions that usually are followed up, in mine and Steve's case, with the "What are you going to do with a degree in that?"
At this point Steve says he is going into creative writing, why, you ask? Because of a desire to write creatively. At this point the conversation usually goes back to other things, like the house fire. However, here, over our taco salads, our ward friend shares how his uncle, once a lawyer, switched mid-career to creative writing. Apparently he had a story he had always wanted to write, one of those stories that must be told.
"What story?" Steve asks.
Our tablemates exchange glances.
"Well, he writes really weird stuff," our dear friend says, hesitating before continuing. Steve, now completely uninterested in his black beans and rice, leans forward.
"Really weird stuff, kind of like horror stuff," says our friend.
Steve's eyes are popping out of his face.
"Really? Like what?" he squeaks, barely holding back his great interest.
"Yeah, something about Santa, who goes all crazy..."
Now, for those who haven't heard, Steve has been pitching this idea about a Jack Bauer meets Santa who speaks like Sam Spade murder mystery since, well, Christmas. Steve is taken aback. Not only does someone have a similar idea (which can be crushing, as inferior as it is), but the idea owner is viewed as deranged by his loved ones, worthy of a "can we talk about crazy ol' so-and-so at dinner without ruining our appetites?" look before mention.
However, the real point of this post is to share a bit of good news. One of Steve's short stories was accepted for publication in a BYU literary magazine. And, of all the entries competing for spots in the magazine, it won second place. And Steve is reading it at a the BYU Literary Conference next weekend. You are all invited to sit in the back and make faces with me, and we can exchange the look, and I can question you about the fire (how do you not get out of your apartment when you smell smoke smoldering in your laundry basket but nothing is actually in flames until hours later? And why were none of the smoke detectors working?).