Jason Lawrence Bell
Search single story

09-30-19 The Gap

09-30-19          PUSH ARROW TO BEGIN AUDIO

‘My writing has become my blood. Every cell in my body has accepted it. Every breath I take nourished it. We are one.’ Replied the writer when asked how his writing has evolved over the years. Stola was the writer being questioned by the press. His new book has caught the attention of the literary world and now sets on the top of the best sellers list. Critics have generally been kind to the book.

The book was called ‘The Gap’. It was uniquely described as a non-fictional psychological study but it was told in fictional story form. It was a unique approach that very effectively exposed complicated psychological studies with real life narrative. Stola was doing what all authors did when their books were released. He would embark on a promotional tour.

Today he was at the Denton bookstore in Pasadena. He would read passages from the book, give a short talk, answer questions, and sign books. Today he had drawn a large crowd with many listeners who stood on the sides. Stola was a little more nervous than usual. He had forgotten to bring his notebook with him and his speech and readings were in it. But he has given so many speeches that he knew he could find something interesting to say.

Stola stepped up to the podium and began, ‘good afternoon I’m Stola. I’m here today promoting my book, ‘The Gap’. I would like to do something a little different today. But first a quick definition of the Gap.’

‘Young in life we develop a self-image of how we believe our life and position in life should evolve. Then with time reality gives us a different outcome. It is that difference between our dream future and our hard reality that is the gap. Most often the dream future is very much a part of us and remains influential throughout our lifetime. In the books there are two protagonists whose life events demonstrate elements of The Gap. One protagonist was Ellen. As a child she dreamed of finding her Prince Charming and living happily ever after. Then her reality became a series of broken marriages. Her husbands were far from princes and were never capable of living up to her fantasy expectations. She died unfulfilled and alone. Her gap removed her from the potential of happiness.’

‘May I ask the room, will anyone who considers themself an ‘Ellen’, either in whole or part, please raise your hand.’ The people were slow to respond, but eventually 5 hands were raised. Stola continued, ‘I suspect there are more than just five Ellens in the room. However, will any of you who raised your hands, be willing to share a little of your story?’ After a long pause one women raised her hand again. The assistant handed her a microphone.

‘Hi, I am Donna and I saw a lot of Ellen in me. Not so much in my relationships but more in my career. My parents always told me I could do whatever I wanted in my life, as long as I was willing to work for it. So, I saw myself as a famous actress and a top-box office super star. My image of life was very vivid and detailed and I was ready to work my hardest to succeed. But after years of constant rejection and disappointment I felt a failure. Thank god for my husband. He gave great support and encouragement while I struggled. When I started getting depressed, he insisted I begin therapy. Therapy gave me the courage to release my dreams and redefine what happiness was for me. I wasn’t certain what really happened until your book helped me define it. Thank you for that, Stola.’ The woman then sat down.

Stola continued, ‘thank you, that was an excellent example of Ellen’s relationship to the Gap. Our second protagonist was Roman. His relationship to his Gap was one that evolved with time. As a young boy he was often bullied and he developed a personal fantasy that gave himself super hero status. In his mind he corrected all wrongs by using his superior abilities. He became the humble protector of goodness for the weak. His problems began in his late twenties when he could only find work in low paying jobs. Relationships became short and unsatisfying. As his real life became more disappointing, his dream life became more active. He created an alternate-imaginary life full of celebrity friends and huge business successes. It became very detailed and The Gap between his reality and his fancy became wider and wider. Roman was eventually admitted to a mental institution, when he gave up his reality all together and only accepted himself as super human. Roman was a very extreme case, but does anyone in the room feel a little like Roman.’

Stola did not expect any one to raise their hand. Roman’s tragic ending was usually too harsh for anyone to admit too. But then in the back of the room a hand was raised so shyly that Stola almost missed it.  Stola asked, ‘hi, would you be interested in sharing a little of your story?’ Then a young man in the back stood up and walked toward the front.

The young man had very short hair, clean shaven and looked about 25 years old. His clothes were strange for a warm summer day. He wore a long dark thick overcoat that nearly reached the floor and black boots. He walked with very long strides and his boots were loud on the hard wood floors. He stopped directly in front of Stolas, but would not make eye contact. Stola recognized him from other readings on the tour. ‘Please tell us a little of your story,’ asked Stola.

The young man took the microphone and kept his back to the audience. ‘I have been diagnosed with High-fantasy Depression. For years I had the super hero fantasies, but they changed to super hero revenge fantasies. It got very dark and determined. I read your book and it enraged me. I don’t why but it shook me to the core. So, I made plans to hurt you back.’ Sola became very alert. The young man continued, ‘I have been to 5 other Stola promotional readings. The people you asked to share their stories were amazing. Each time I felt their pain so strongly I couldn’t carry thru with my plans. I could see I’m not alone, but my anger was so strong. So, I would come back again and again. But today something happened that changed things. I became clear on my Gap, I guess. My anger is leaving me. I mean I can’t find the rage that brought me here. I feel so tired inside.’ The young man looked exhausted. Stolas placed his hands on the young man’s shoulder.

As he did, the young man’s overcoat open and Stola saw it. A suicide vest bomb. Only Stola could see it. Stolas mind raced? As he kept his hands on the young man’s shoulders, Stola announced. ‘This maybe a good time to end today. Thank you all for coming. I need to spend a little time with this young man. I will sign books later in the lobby. Thank you.’

The audience slowly left the room. The young man began sobbing deeply as Stola carefully started taking off the overcoat. Slowly he unstrapped the vest and set it on the floor. Stola began hugging the young man as his weeping flowed out. Stola motioned to his assistant to call the police. They stood there together embraced while waiting for the police. But Stolas mind was on his next book. He already had a title, ‘Bridging The Gap, Suicide Prevention.’ Peace***