Love Letters to Voltaire: Financial Crisis Parallel (Part 1)

Hey you guys! Here is another short excerpt from another story I’m working on. I will continuously post excerpts of this story on my blog so you can follow along 🙂 This one is a time-traveling historical fiction about my love affair with the French writer Voltaire. Some of the experiences I use in this story will be false, and others will be true or loosely based off of my interactions with Voltaire’s spirit. He is even helping me write this one 🙂 We hope you enjoy!

Paris, France 1724

I collapsed onto my chair feeling helpless. Hopeless. All I had in my room was a bed and a couple of chairs that I had to ask my mistress for. I had no money for myself. How would I feed myself? I was a pathetic excuse for a man. I’d have to find a job and work. It would take away from my writing, and I would have proven my father right.

I ran my fingers through my hair and clenched tightly. I’m a failure as a writer and as a man. How could I think I could do this? Live this life as a writer and think it to be lucrative? I just thought perhaps it’d be different for me.

Tears began to fall down as the stress overwhelmed me. I was losing a grip on my life, and all because I couldn’t afford to live. Paris was a terrible place to reside in. It was always so loud and disruptive. Everything was so expensive here.

I had gotten sick with smallpox and had to sell all my furniture to pay off my medical expenses, but it wasn’t enough. I’m still in debt to so many and now my mistress, whose apartment I am living in. I haven’t paid rent, and what’s worse is that I need to write her yet another letter requesting further financial help. How did I get here? Where was my pride? Soiled down deep into the muck of the bustling streets is where it is.

My depression was making me sick again. The tears continued to rain down my cheeks and I held my face in my hands fully ashamed. I just want to give up. Though I am not a man of religion, I do believe in a God. I prayed to this God, whoever he may be, and asked for his help. Practically begging, I pleaded for him to send me a sign I was on the right path and what I should do next. How do I get out of this mess?

Suddenly I felt a powerful surge of energy surround me. It made my heart pick up its pace, and then I felt a calm wave rush over me. It was almost as if arms wrapped around me, and I could no longer cry because I didn’t feel the need to anymore. For a second, I thought I heard someone say, “I love you, François.” Never in my life had I felt so much love surround me. It was humbling, and as I sat there in my chair in my nearly empty room, I felt safe. I felt as though everything would be okay. It was just the push I needed.

I stood up from my seat and thanked whatever angel was sent to me before putting on my jacket and headed downstairs to go socialize at the coffee shop.

 


Los Angeles, California 2014

I couldn’t believe it. Not for a second. I looked at my bank statement and then at my bills. They were paid in full, thank God, but all I had left was twenty bucks. Twenty lousy bucks to buy food with, and this twenty was supposed to last me the rest of the month. Los Angeles was an expensive city to live in.

I had busted my ass working two jobs while going to school full time and none of it was ever enough. I never seemed to make enough money to buy so much as a can of soup. This was beyond stressful. This economic system is fucked. Why is it that working two part-time jobs gets you nowhere? Why is it that I’m still struggling? Apparently, I wasn’t even broke enough to qualify for food stamps. How poor do I need to be?

As I sat there looking at my bank statement, I ran my fingers through my hair. The stress began to settle in and my breath began to get out of control. I was having yet another panic attack. My heaving could be heard across the living room, so my boyfriend grabbed a brown paper bag and ran to my aid. “Just breathe,” he said. He rubbed his hand up and down my back.

After I had settled back down, I said, “We can’t keep living like this, Stephan. We need help. I can’t even afford to buy my textbooks for next quarter.”

“Don’t you have financial aid?” He asked.

“Yes, but it’s not nearly enough. I have to pay out of pocket for my tuition sometimes too.”

“Call your father,” suggested Stephan.

I know he meant well, but my pride swelled up in my chest. “No. I will not ask him. I refuse.”

“Why not?” Stephan sounded almost frustrated.

My tone was short with him. “Because I refuse to. I can do this on my own. Why don’t you call your parents or ask my dad yourself?”

Stephan sighed. “Look, I know you’re stressed and upset, Marie. I get it. I am too, but sometimes we need to swallow our pride and ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with it. At least have your dad help you pay for your textbooks.” I bit my bottom lip as I struggled to come to terms with my dilemma. Stephan placed a hand on top of mine. “Please, do this for us. If it helps, you’re not doing this for you. You’re doing this for me, okay?”

I sighed and grabbed my phone. “Fine,” I snapped. I dialed up my father and when he picked up, my voice caught in my throat.

“Mija? You there?” My father asked.

I cleared my throat. “Yeah, dad. I uh…” Why couldn’t I speak? There was a lump forming in my throat. I swallowed hard. “I need your help.” Tears began to fall down my cheeks as my pride got stomped on.

My father sounded concerned, and he spoke more softly. “What’s a matter, mija?”

“Hold on,” I said in between sobs. I took a few quick breaths to gather myself. “I need your help with paying for my books for school.” I stood up and started pacing around in circles.

“Of course, baby girl. Of course, I’ll help you pay for school. Why are you so upset?” My father still sounded so concerned.

“Because…” I sounded like a little girl throwing a temper tantrum. “I-I don’t want to ask you for help. I hate asking for money.”

My father chuckled over the phone. “You’ve got that stupid pride like I do. I’m sorry I passed it down to you. Mija, there is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s what daddies are for. I’m sending you a check now.”

I took another deep breath hoping it’d help make the last of my anger dissipate. “Thank you, dad.” After I hung up, I fell onto the couch in defeat. Stephan sat beside me and held me close to him in comfort. His touch always melted my heart, and I found myself smiling again.

“Thank you for doing that for us, Marie. I’m going to pull out a loan with the help of my parents. This way we can have some extra funds to last us until I finish school here in LA,” said Stephan.

I buried my head into his chest and nodded. “Thank you, sweetie.”

“And hey, maybe I can get a big enough loan so that you can quit your jobs and stay home to write. How does that sound? I want you to focus on your passion and get that book published.”

“That’s highly unrealistic.”

Stephan nudged me with his body. “Come on, babe. It’s your dream. It’s what you’re going to school for.” I could hear the playful smile in his tone. He kept nudging me until I gave in.

“Okay, fine, fine!” I said laughing.

“That’s my girl,” said Stephan kissing my cheeks.