In The Face Of Rejection

If you happened to stumble your way through the buffed and shining revolving door to stagger forward to the sanitised, public-facing cubicles of the cover-story building, you’d be forgiven for thinking that all was as it seems.

Except, as we all know, things are rarely so simple.

The smiling helpers ensconced in their shining, plexiglass cocoons are merely a front. A façade. Like a Cuban shopfront on a different continent in a different time.

For all their beaconing promise what lies behind them is a standard government issue corridor. You know the sort. All straight lines, expressionless doors and stark lighting. Like a beige-carpeted runway to hell.

Behind one of the doors – don’t ask me which one, I swear it changes after every designated tea-break – sits a man. A perfectly ordinary man, with a perfectly ordinary life in a perfectly ordinary office. He is neither handsome nor ugly. You could criticise the fact that he has far too much face for the size of his head but that would be churlish, not to mention utterly ignored.

You see…he has a job to do.

And do it he shall.

Before him upon his orderly desk, next to his bland, orderly family photographs sits a deep stack of papers. Last year’s trees become last month’s scrolls filled with last week’s writerly dreams. Yesterday’s news and tomorrow’s offering to the fish and chip gods.

A metronome measures out time with an almost metronomic precision – its occasional deviation the only rebellion it can mount. With each successive tick the man alternates between two well-practised actions. Tick. Pick up a page. Tick. Stamp it with a blood-red cross.


And so on.


And so forth.

Keep watching.

At some chaotic pre-determined moment the man places a page on his desk and sits back, his too-large face a study of consideration. He pauses the metronome with his finger and opens a drawer underneath the desk with his other hand. From the drawer he removes a box which he places on the desk. He stares at the needle of the metronome, the weight of his gaze a warning. He pauses and then nods, satisfied he has been understood. He draws his finger away. The needle quivers but holds firm. Another nod, and then both hands are on the box.

Inside the box, another. And inside that, another. And inside that, another still. At the seventh box the man plucks a tiny key from his waistcoat pocket and turns it in the lock. It clicks and opens under protest, groaning like a soul who seeks to recall but has forgotten the mechanics of language.

The man dips thumb and forefinger into the small wooden box and plucks out a yellow smiley sticker which he affixes to the top right hand corner of the page. He reaches into the box once more and pulls out an eighth container from which he retrieves a golden bell no bigger than his elegant right thumb. His hand shudders and the bell responds with a crystal peal that belies its stature.

A scant moment passes before a door opens in the cork-panelled wall behind the man’s desk. A head too big for its associated face extends into the room, followed by an impossibly long arm which whips forward and snatches up the smiley-bedecked paper before disappearing back to the relative safety of the outdated fixtures.

The man blinks heavily, creases his mouth into the faintest of smiles and nods once more.

And so it begins again…tick…tick…tick…


The say when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. Personally I think you should fuh…fuh…ffff…forego the lemonade and seek out the the tequila and salt but that’s just the way I feel most breakfasts.

I got handed neither lemons, nor tequila, nor salt…but I did receive a rejection for a story that I like from a publication that I (still very much) like. So I figured, there were two options – either sit around drinking virtual lemonade or write something spontaneous based on rejection.

I’m not much of a one for lemonade.

And besides, there’s always time to have a tequila and a bit of a cry.

18 thoughts on “In The Face Of Rejection

  1. I love the idea of the box within a box within a box containing the smiley stickers clearly not given out very often! Don’t feel downhearted, as you know, it may not have been a good fit for their upcoming issue but someone else will snap it up I’m sure. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Becky 🙂 I’m not disheartened in any way – if I’m getting rejections it means I’ve actually been writing something worth submitting which is only a positive! And the fact that this latest rejection gave me the chance to have a bit of fun with the story was a real bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dave 🙂 Yes, it’s entirely based on fact…!

      It did make me laugh writing this one as I know from past experience that the guys behind the publication that rejected me this time around spend hours/days/weeks agonising over decisions and deal with writers in a classy and professional manner.

      Glad you enjoyed it – was a lot of fun to write


  2. I’ve got the shot-glasses to line them up across the bar and enough lime and salt to make a Mexican cry. You bring the tequila and we’ll make paper planes out of that rejection notice and see how far we can make that shit fly!
    Don’t give up mate, they just weren’t ready for your magic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mel – you are a legend and a true friend. Will pack my spare liver and be on the road in ten…

      Rejections mean I’m back in the game – only positive thoughts about this one and a lot more determination (at least once our combined hangover clears!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rejections from magazines I really love and was excited about are definitely the hardest… I know your pain. But using that to inspire another story is a great response indeed. 🙂 I especially liked the bits about too much face for his head / too much head for his face. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s definitely a lot of common ground in our combined sense of humour – I had a sneaky feeling you might enjoy those lines and I’m glad my prediction held true! And you’re right of course about the disappointment but if it gives me an excuse to write it can only be a good thing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this. Great descriptions and details that give it a great dreamy feel… the disproportionate head:face ratios, the boxes, the metronome. Rejection is tough but you turned it into something productive!

    Liked by 1 person

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