Veronica & Dylan #NovelPossible2023

Novel Possible Writing Mission #11 on 11.11.23 (5 min. read)

Dylan had described Veronica to others as, “Magical.” He had said, “Veronica just makes everything better when she’s around.”

Dylan was Veronica’s co-worker. He was dreamy, kind, had a good heart and he treated her like gold. Veronica had a massive, secret, crush on Dylan.

One day Dylan asked Veronica to go to a seminar with him. He invited her to his house for dinner beforehand. She was elated, over the moon, this must be a sign that he liked her, right?

On the day of their date, Veronica dressed in the new outfit she had purchased specially. She felt beautiful. She arrived at Dylan’s cottage and was relieved to find that it was both clean and cute. So many 20-something men she knew were such slobs. There was a faint “I’ve slept on the same sheets for 2 months” smell, but overall, it felt like a place where she could make herself at home.

The dinner Dylan cooked for them was basic but delicious. Their conversation flowed well. After dinner, they walked out to Dylan’s car and he opened the door for her. As they drove into the city for the seminar, Veronica felt so happy. Her cheeks were flushed and she kept giggling at things he said.

The seminar was held in a boring room in a kind of dumpy hotel. Dylan seemed to know many people there and he introduced Veronica to several who seemed really excited to meet her. Maybe he had already mentioned her to them? She felt special. As they took their seats, Veronica noticed she could feel the warmth radiating from Dylan’s body. Their arms were almost touching.

Her internal dialogue was so much about Dylan, her feelings for him, and wondering if he felt the same way that she didn’t pay much attention to the seminar. She did notice that she was being sold to. They wanted her to sign up for a weekend seminar. Dylan asked her what she thought about signing up. “Are you going to be there too?” she asked him. “Yes, I’ll be there for part of it,” he said.

The weekend course cost $500. That was a lot of money for Veronica. It would make things very tight for her financially for the next month or more. Her giddiness about being there with Dylan prompted her to say, “Yes, I’d like to do it.” Dylan’s smile was so big. It was so exciting that he was so happy about her choice.

Over the next week at the office, Veronica replayed every interaction with Dylan over and over. One day he came in and took a sip of her coffee. That felt so intimate. One day he brought her a CD that he had made with songs by an artist she had asked about when it played in his car on the way to the seminar. She felt sure that all these signs meant that he was interested in her romantically. Friends that she talked to said that he definitely was into her. It all felt too good to be true.

On Friday afternoon as Dylan was leaving, Veronica said, “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.” Dylan stopped and turned back towards her, “I’ll actually just be there on Sunday afternoon. I’m so psyched for you though. I can’t wait to hear how your weekend goes.”

As he walked out the door, her excitement began to fade. He had said that he would be there for “part of it,” but she had just assumed that he really meant most of it. She had imagined 2 days of sitting so close to Dylan that their arms might actually touch. She had imagined them talking and laughing together on a lunch break. She had even hoped he would offer to drive her there and back since they lived in the same town.

Less than 30 minutes into the seminar on Saturday morning, it became clear to Veronica that she had signed up for a $500 personal growth workshop themed around creating “personal success” by using all kinds of exercises designed to induct you into a high-control group, reminiscent of large group awareness trainings, MLM’s, and pyramid schemes. Within the first 2 hours, she realized that she was in a room full of people who truly believed in manifesting their success through multi-level marketing. Veronica felt itchy. She was so disappointed with herself.

In this type of group, it takes so much effort to not go along with all the hype. If you don’t participate, you get singled out and questioned about your lack of commitment. So Veronica decided to try to get her money’s worth and just participate and go with the flow. This is exactly the kind of surrender moment that this type of group is aiming for.

Veronica confessed to members of her small group that she had a crush on the person who invited her there. She identified her personal success goal: the thing she most wanted in her life was a romantic relationship.

Her small group leader virtually demanded that she call Dylan right then and there and ask him out on a date. A whole group of people watched as she dialed his number. When he answered and she asked how he was, he said, “We just got back from a great day of skiing.” We?! Veronica panicked. She heard a woman’s voice in the background. Her heart sank, but the expectant faces surrounding her made her ask, “Would you want to go on a date with me sometime?” There was a long pause on his end. She wanted to die. “With what intention?” he asked her. He sounded alarmed. “With the intention of dating,” she said. She didn’t know how else to answer. “Oh,” he said. “I’m sorry. I actually have a girlfriend.” She had never, ever heard him mention a girlfriend. As quickly as she could, she ended the call. She never ever wanted to see him again. She would have to get a new job.

Her small group leader tried to put a positive spin on it, “Well now at least you know he’s not the one! Now you can focus on calling in the right guy for you.” Veronica passionately hated this whole weekend. She was so mad about all the money she had spent only to monumentally embarrass herself and experience a humiliating rejection.

On Sunday she arrived late. She went through the motions and counted the hours until the end. The last thing that happened was the group gathering in a big circle. They were all blindfolded and then the lights were turned out. In her mind, Veronica named this part The Fuckery Finale. Some cheesy love song played and then they were instructed to take off their blindfolds and look into the eyes of the people who cared deeply about their success.

As Veronica removed her blindfold, she saw Dylan standing in front of her with a rose in his outstretched hand. She prayed to disappear or faint or be transported anywhere else, but here. She awkwardly accepted the rose and a hug from Dylan. Her face was bright red and tears almost ran down her face. It felt like such a cruel joke. This whole thing was absolutely awful.

On top of everything, the weekend leaders were trying to get her to pay another $2000 for a week of this bullshit. They had spent hours selling the next level during the weekend shitshow. In spite of it all, she couldn’t even hate Dylan. He seemed so innocently surprised about it all like he had no idea anything he did or said could have been confusing to her.

She felt the hot shame of knowing that someone like Dylan would likely never even think of dating someone like her. He likely genuinely thought that she would benefit from this personal success gaslighting as he seemingly had. He was probably strongly encouraged by these same leaders to invite all of his friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to do this training for the “betterment of humanity and their souls.” Gross.

Veronica didn’t quit her job. She didn’t even stop talking to Dylan. She just swallowed the whole terrible experience and kept going. She handled herself with as much dignity and grace as possible.

*This is my response to today’s writing mission at NovelPossible .com, the amazing creation of my friend Caroline. Daily writing missions you can choose to accept, or not, that self-destruct at midnight.

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