Dan warned me a few days in advance. “On day 21 there's going to be a change to the page-a-day.”
I got nervous. What in the world did he have in mind? Two pages a day? A higher word count?
“No, don't try to guess,” Dan said. “Just wait and see.”
I was eating a cup of chili with my daughter and the siblings I was teen-sitting inside the Meramec Caverns visitors center when my phone rang. It was Dan. My 21-day change-of-plans crossed my mind. I stepped away from the table and walked to the windows hoping for a strong cell signal.
“You ready for the change to your page-a-day?”
I stood looking out over the parking lot. “I think so,” I said with hesitation.
“Okay, moving forward each day's page is devoted to Astrid's story. You can do whatever other writing you want, but for it to count as your page done when you text me, it's Astrid's story only.”
I felt the oxygen leave my lungs. I had a huge grin on my face. I couldn't stop smiling. I realized it was my reaction to a feeling of combined terror and exhilaration.
“We're going to get your book written before mine,” Dan declared.
I was stunned. I didn't have a story. I just had this young woman who wanted to become a mechanic traipsing through my imagination. What was going to happen to her? What was happening to me? Why was Dan putting me up to this? Did he, like my other friend, really believe I had a novel in me?
“Since you've already written your page for the day, you can start on Astrid tomorrow.”
That was a relief. I needed time to process this new twist. The ante had been upped. I prayed I was up for the challenge.
As the four of us drove away from our day trip, I told them about the challenge I'd just received. I told teen #1 as much about Astrid and her story as I knew at that point. That sweet teen asked questions and seemed genuinely interested. I was grateful. Her interest helped me ease into the deep end of this pool where I wasn't convinced I could swim.