[Note: This essay is purely fictional and has no basis in my personal experiences.]
At 7:30 my alarm clock went off like a siren inside my brain. I rolled out of bed and looked in the mirror to find dark circles under my eyes. Uttering a prolonged groan, I shuffled over to the bathroom, sluggish and groggy. It was the day of my first job interview, and with a slightly over-inflated ego, I had anticipated it with optimism, planning to make a brilliant impression on my interviewer and land a fantastic job on my first attempt out of graduate school.
As I got ready that morning, my burned-out star turned into a black hole. I stepped into the tub, hoping that a hot shower would brighten my depressed spirits, and was deluged with a flood of frigid water--the water heater had died. Styling my hair was another nightmare. Because of the hasty, cold shower, my ordinarily thick locks were about as flat and limp as a wet dishrag, and the mousse and hairspray only made them worse. My eyes were bloodshot and had dark circles around them--I looked like a raccoon with a bad hangover.
Trying to make up for the time I had lost while trying to do something with my hair, I put runs in two pairs of nylons and lost an earring back under the dresser somewhere. With no time for a real breakfast, I ran into the kitchen and grabbed an apple. As I reached for my coat, I looked out the window to check the weather--it was unusually dark, rain was coming down in sheets, gusts of wind were bending the trees, and the thermometer outside read forty-five. After searching in vain for my new umbrella, I found an old one at the bottom of the closet and hurried to the door, taking an occasional bite from my apple.
Having started the car and buckled my seatbelt, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my briefcase. Pulling the key out of the ignition, I hurriedly unlocked the door and ran back inside, now positive that I would never make it to my interview on time. After snatching the briefcase, I finally managed to get on the road without any more mishaps.
I pulled into the parking lot at 8:57 for a 9:00 appointment and took one last look at my face in the rearview mirror before I got out. With only bad luck on my side now, I thoughtlessly champed down too hard on the last of the apple and bit my lip. Hoping against hope that it wouldn't swell up and add to the ghastliness of my face, I ran to the building, frantically clutching my dilapidated umbrella and praying that it wouldn't turn inside out in the gusty wind.
I arrived breathless at the office, with half a minute to spare, and gave the receptionist my name while trying to appear more collected and composed than was humanly possible under the circumstances. I won't elaborate on the details of the interview, but not surprisingly, I didn't make the dazzling impression that I had expected. When it was over, I received the usual line--"We'll let you know"--and read into those trite words a blatant pronouncement of my incompetence and a flat-out rejection. But I couldn't really blame the interviewer. Considering the flustered and unprofessional image that I had projected during the interview, even I wouldn't have hired me. With downcast eyes, I slowly walked out of the building; it seemed as if all my soaring dreams and aspirations lay in ruins around me.
Stepping outside, I collapsed on the nearest bench and just sat for what seemed like hours, feeling nothing. Finally, I raised my eyes and realized that it had stopped raining--the clouds had broken away, and the gusty wind had diminished to a gentle breeze. Suddenly, I felt warmth spreading across my face and saw a bright sunbeam shining through the clouds, bringing light--and new direction--into my soul.
The storm was over.