"She was born in poverty and died the same but what came in between was richness beyond belief..."
"Stop it. Just stop right there."
"I know it's rough but bear with me for..."
"Rough? It's not just rough, it's cliched. I imagine you also going to talk about fighting for every step and the seemingly endless doors slammed along the way."
"Well, yes. I thought I would. People like a story that shows overcoming the odds. And especially if there is a tragic ending. I mean, isn't that why I was hired?"
"I'm actually not entirely sure why you were hired to tell the truth."
"Need I show you my resume again? Or those," and with that the author waved her hand toward a stack of bestsellers. "It's not like this is my first rodeo."
"Yes, I see that. And it shows with the cliched way you are approaching the story."
The author closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Trust me. Please. This is the way the story should start.
"Fine, skip to the marriage."
"The beginning or the end?"
"I haven't really written about the middle. I wrote about the courtship and then the divorce. Those were the interesting parts."
"Not the 15 years in the middle? You think the only interesting parts are the very beginning and the very end? Why do you think those are interesting? It's because of the middle. We see and don't see a thousand people in our lifetimes, starts and stops, it's only the ones that have middles that mean anything. Tell me what you are writing about the middle."
"There is nothing about the middle. Well, not nothing I guess, there is mention of the years together and the number of children."
"The children being nothing as well?"
"No, I wrote about the relationships with the children. How they all left."
"Left? They didn't leave, they grew up. That's what children do. They grow up. Left. They didn't abandon anyone, they grew up. My god. You are a hack."
"But they didn't just grow up and move out, they left town. The lost touch. They moved on."
"It was a different time. Before everyone had e-mail and texting and cell phones. There were letters. There were visits."
"The only record for visits I have is for funerals."
"Can you think of a more important time for a visit?"
"But that's really more about obligation isn't it? Not..."
"Not what? Not love? Not family togetherness?"
"It just doesn't seem like it's, well, it doesn't seem like there was a lot of companionship."
"Maybe they just weren't so co-dependent in those days. People grew up and became adults. Not like now. Where adults ride bicycles to work and go to amusement parks and wear t-shirts with comic book characters on them." She sniffed with disgust.
The author looked at her Wonder Woman t-shirt and pursed her lips, "I am only sharing the draft with you out of kindness. It would be nice if you would show me the same respect."
"I thought you were sharing the story with me for feedback. If everyone tells you you are brilliant you never get a chance to be better. And you need to be better. This is cliched tripe."
"Aside from the stylistic choices that you don't approve of, have I gotten any of the facts wrong?"
"So you would say that this is all true, correct?"
"And it does include the highlights right?"
The author held up her hand, "I know we are talking about 92 years of life. I understand there are a lot of stories in there that weren't told, but would you say the frame work is essentially correct?"
"Yes. I would say the framework is essentially correct."
"Okay. Thank you. That's what I need. I will, of course, let you have one more chance to see the book before I send it to the publisher. But for now I have what I need."
"Oh no, please, wait, don't you have more questions? I have a few more stories I could share that I think you will find very entertaining..."
This was the first time the haughty tone had been dropped. It almost made the author feel badly for ending the session. Almost.
"I will get back to you if I feel I need to add more."
"No, please! Let me stay. Please, it's just so lonely and nobody else wants to talk about my life and..."
"I'm sorry. This is all for today."
And with that she drew a line through the salt circle and blew out the candle sending her away, listening to the spirit scream and curse her as she faded away.
Ghost writing a biography was not for the faint of heart.