Wednesday, March 06, 2013

last words

Hey, writer friends, let's play a game! 

A few years ago some pals and I decided to do NaNoWriMo and encourage one another by emailing our "last paragraph of the day" each day. We thought it might be fun to create some additional deliverables beyond the daily word count.

No other rules, no other context, no "what you need to know," simply, the last paragraph you write before tucking yourself into bed.

Our investment in each others' writing blossomed, as did our enthusiasm for our own projects. There was that little "whip" you know? And the feeling that if we didn't submit our paragraphs, we were letting our readers down. Plus, there were some HILARIOUS paragraphs that had us aching for more, more, MORE!

And, hello, it ensured we all were writing every single day.

Do you want to play with me??

Here's how it'll work. Each day, for the next 2 weeks, (March 6 - March 20), post your last para in the comments section below.

As added incentive, everyone who participates and manages to post a paragraph EVERY day will automatically be entered in my lottery for a SIGNED COPY OF THE STUD BOOK BY MONICA DRAKE!!!!

To get us started, here's my last paragraph from yesterday:



There are no sections in party stores where you can purchase Welcome Home from Prison banners. No piñatas in the shape of a ball-and-chain. Forget ordering a cake with a nail file baked into it. The only even close-to-gag party favors for a newly minted ex-con are squirt guns. So I bought a dozen, and then drove to the Little York Package Store for the booze.


Ready, set, GO!!

UPDATE 3/20/13 THANKS FOR BEING PART OF LAST WORDS! I'M SO INTRIGUED BY THE STORIES HERE. I'M AN EPISODIST AT HEART. (IS THAT A WORD? SHOULD BE.) ANYWAY, I DECIDED TO DO A RANDOM # GENERATOR THING TO DRAW FOR THE MONICA BOOK. I FIGURED IF I PULLED MY OWN NUMBER, I'D JUST REDO IT. BUT I DIDN'T HAVE TO. THE RNG PULLED 38, COUNTING DOWN, THAT MEANS THAT DAVID MILLSTONE WON THE SIGNED MONICA DRAKE BOOK! DAVID, THE BOOK COMES OUT APRIL 12. I'LL GET YOUR COPY SIGNED LICKETY SPLIT THEREAFTER AND SEND IT OUT. THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE!

71 comments:

  1. A few women I’ve been with have been committed to ‘Happiness’ and have looked askance at my pursuit of ‘Meaning.’ They and I could never completely understand each other and I can't help suspecting they knew something I didn't. The best thing I can say about me was that I was with them in the first place. The worst thing is that now I'm not.

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    1. oh. man. heartbreaking. Thanks for this... More!!

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  2. Was this the Orgone Universe, I wondered? Were these bits of erotic imagery the collective unconscious of generations of suppressed libido?

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  3. the gladiolas, the grass.
    Remember, if your wife goes before me
    I may have to wipe brown gravy
    from your childless chin, catch
    drool with a dishtowel at the moment
    it travels toward that flannel shirt, push
    a wheelchair on the sidewalk uphill in rain
    read HotRod magazine or something about
    Chevys out loud, speaking softly as I can
    because the sound of my voice is fingernails
    on a chalkboard hanging in hairy ears,
    bloodshot eyes crooning I Hate You as I
    dump happy pills down your throat.







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    1. Whoa. So great to see your writing again, Patty. Beautiful.

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  4. Later, Celia comes to think of this as her wedding night and the Blackbird as both chapel and seedy honeymoon suite. She buys herself a necklace with a gold three-leaf clover that lies like a secret between her breasts.

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  5. (LOVING your book of stories, by the way. The first one made me desperate to write something in 2nd person POV---and you know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.)

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    1. (Do it! 2nd person can lead you down a fun path. xo)

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  6. I love your last paragraph, Suzy.

    I could use a little motivator,but I'm in a completely different time zone and didn't receive your emailed post until today,March 7th. Better late than never, right? Here's mine.


    Relief made me woozy. I passed the note to Doug and started to giggle uncontrollably, before the the laughter turned to tears. I’d been expecting another horrible note but it was a foolish little valentine, a silly little joke. It didn’t matter who the note was from – Armless Frank Moon, Phonse or Calvin Fecking Piercey! It wasn’t a threat, it wasn’t an attack. It was a gift.

    “Jesus God tonight, woman,” sighed Doug. “I don’t know why you’re crying about this one. It’s a good sign, right? You might not end up an old maid.”

    I whacked him. “And you might not end up bruised. But I doubt it."

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    1. So glad you're playing, Downith. Juicy, fun!

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    2. I still haven't quite got my head around the time difference. Whatever. I'll try to keep posting until I notice that everyone else has stopped.

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  7. Fantastic, everyone! Happily basking in the "teases" here. Let's keep it going... the more the merrier!

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    1. Anonymous12:25 PM

      Hi Suzy,
      What profile should I select? Can't use face book or yahoo?
      Rachel

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    2. Oh, Rachel, so great to see you here! Easiest is the Google profile if you have that. And, yay!! Grand Mummy!!!

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    3. Got a google account. Lets see if this works.

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  8. Anonymous11:47 AM

    I saw my grandmother differently. Clearly she was a consummate flirt. She thrived on the attention of men of which she had an ample supply. She was both beautiful and tragic. She had lost Sheldon, the poet, the artist, and the source of untold wealth. It was her own fault, but she emerged from her depression with undiminished determination to rule her own life, to choose and discard men at will. I likened her to Scarlett O’Hara. And I knew Grand Mummy had won in the game of life. Not only had she won sailing races, tennis matches, chess, backgammon and bridge. She had won Goodhue’s love. He knew exactly who she was, and what she was, and he loved her for all of it. And although she couldn’t be a good mother to Dody, she won Diane for her daughter. And that made all the difference.

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    1. Hi all,
      The one above about Grand Mummy is mine. Now I have a google identity.
      Pleased to meet everyone,
      Rachel

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  9. This may be cheating but I'm posting again today to catch up. I didn't post on March 6th so by my own rules I'll need to post twice. Sorry this is so long. It's a paragraph! Right?

    I climbed into cold hospital bed and opened The Brothers Karamazov. I had made it to page 91. Amid the confusion of Russian names, first wives, second wives, political and religious discourse, I persevered because I was falling in love with Alyosha, the youngest Karamazov. His dark bright eyes, filled with the light of god, and his pure, simple love for his despicable father, the cold Ivan and the wild Dmitri fascinated me. But I knew I wasn’t like him. I was like Dmitri, the sensualist. And even Fyodor, the drunken father, with his declaration that he could love of every woman; the barefoot peasant slut or the pale noble heiress, struck an ominous cord within me. I could love timid barefoot boys and wild drunken men alike.

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  10. 2.0% benzyl alcohol. The beakers, the droppers. Rue bends her knees to ensure the meniscus hits perfectly. Liquid meeting line. The medicine will take effect fifteen minutes after injection. Each injection should last six hours. But she needs to try this Lorazepam cocktail out first. On us, she says. Don’t worry, she says. It’ll be a fun ride.

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  11. It was the first time I’d heard this expression. I remember repeating it slowly in my head, wincing as I visualized a face dripping blood, a gaping hole at its center. My mind raced then to the game my grandmother used to play, tweaking my nose and pretending she’d removed it. She would tuck the stub of her wrinkled thumb between her arthritic fingers and wave it in front of me, saying “Look, I’ve got your nose,” while I danced about trying to reclaim it.

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  12. Ah, really--in the end? Fuck me, man. Really, just--. Look, it should have been over long before--long before... now. Fifty. That was my deadline. There's courage in deadlines if you stick with them. But, ha (or, "LOL," right?) when did I stick a deadline...? Hey, man--hey. Look. Born just one generation earlier and we'd not be sitting here b.s.ing about "re-inventing" or "second starts" or--and fuck me with a crocodile smile--"encore career." NO. We'd be talking about what happened to daddy's money and... and... and fuck all, women? What? Without the pills? Ha! ("lol!") women! a hunchbacked hooker or two. No, asshole. There's nothing romantic about failing. Nothing at all. Not even now, in this generation, with all the pills and second starts galore. It's just all getting really fucking old. What? I say something you don't like? Just sit there and smile.

    And I miss women. They were promising. They made tomorrow look possible. Fuck. It should have been over a long time ago, and now that it's not, it's too late.

    And tell your "God" he can kiss my flabby ass.

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    1. I'm hooked! Can't wait for your next submission.

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  13. Rats! I've already missed a day. But whatever, I'm still playing:

    I think of her sometimes when I’m with Jack. When his jaw scrapes my skin, when he pounds and pushes too hard, I remember the smoothness of Molly’s young cheek, her tentative fingers and tongue, her secret wish arising from a grown man’s perversion.

    Same as mine.

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  14. Michael, just a toddler, is holding her hand as they wade beside the fishing boat. He examines the outboard motor. Karen is on the shore gathering wild strawberries. Of the three kids I’m the only one who is naked. With my back to the movie camera, my pale round bottom flashes in the sunlight above tan legs. I am struggling into a faded orange life vest. The straps are tangled. I manage to tie the strings and slowly wade out into the lake. I am six, with a short haircut. Karen is back in the woods. She bends to pick a strawberry then stands to wave at the camera. Her slender body is clad in slim blue bathing suit with a stiff puffy skirt, just like a ballerina. I wade slowly deeper into the lake through weeds as the water slowly rises up my thighs.

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  15. So, let's say: there was a tipping point. There was a moment. 'If I knew it then it would have been different'--that kind of moment--the kind that should've slugged you in the mouth by how obvious it was but instead hid under the carpet as you walked over it in fuck-thick steel toed work boots. The kind of moment that is as old and unmemorable as a penny long after a penny stopped buying anything. Only when it's way too late do you think back and go, 'oh shit, if I'd gone to the opera with her that day instead of spending the night on the internet....' Ah, hell, man. Hell isn't other people. Hell's realizing you never knew another person as well as yourself. Fuck'n maudlin thought. But fuck'n true. Fuck'n tipping points.... If you did 'em right, they'd never be that, though--hunh? What? I mean, they'd just be another bit of happiness you were too content to notice. Wouldn't mean a thing. And so, you see. Right? Meaning or Happiness? 'Meaning' happens because you noticed it because it fucking hurt. Happiness just happened, like slop just happens to pigs, you never fucking noticed it. So, yes. I wish to fuck I'd eaten the slop.

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  16. We circled Trifectas, the Daily Double, all the way up to the ninth race. We were playing strip, so with every race, we each took off an article of clothing. Sexy. Sort of. My blue Walmart pinny hurled to the black and green carpet. His UPS uniform dotting the path to the toilet.

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  17. As she spoke the last line she bowed very low and pointed dramatically to the doorway. I turned, half expecting Little Bo Peep to appear and startled when there was a knock at the door.

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  18. In second grade my teacher insisted I wear a dress to school. I hated the way the dress flew up when I pumped my legs on the tall swing set in the playground. But it was still my favorite recess activity. The long chains were cold in my hands and the thick rubber seat cut into my thighs but when I got swinging very high I could reach the point of weightlessness and it was all worth it. Teaches across the playground warned me to come down but I pretended not to hear them. The one advantage of the dress was that my bare legs gave me better grip when I shinnied up the swing set poles. They were thick cold steel, but even so I wrapped my legs around them and headed to the top. As I climbed I left the other children below and looked out over the forest and lawns of my school. My arm muscles quivered at I reached the top and a warm delightful sensation blossomed from between my legs and enveloped my whole body. With my cheek against the smooth metal corner of the swing set cross bar, I rested as the tide of pleasure subsided. Pink cheeked, I slid to the ground, smoothed down my dress, and went in to my classroom.

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  19. Sweetheart, you make me crazy. You bumbler. You lovely bumbling useless ineffective man. I would kiss you if I thought you'd feel any better. Oh, my gosh. All these thoughts. What are you going to do?

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  20. I nodded, gave him the change and handed him a plastic bag with his lunch. My heart. My stomach. Everything all fucked up. Only a strip of plywood between me and him. He launched an air kiss at me, winked, and then he was gone, striding out the automatic doors built in the spot where Raul and I used to stand and watch Rebecca whack happy customers with a ruler.

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  21. Carla had a doll like that. Black yarn hair and a green dress sewn onto her muslin skin. You couldn’t move that dress, it stayed right where it was on the doll’s flat chest, and under the skirt was a pair of green panties that seemed to be part of the doll, ensuring her everlasting chastity. An odd choice, given the circumstances.

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  22. I speared a french fry and dipped it in the ketchup. Holding it up and twirling it, I asked, “When do you think we’ll grow out of french fries and ketchup?”

    Sheila stared at me appalled. “Who would ever want to?”

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  23. Criteria? Love, sex, career, kids, learning, and really good vacations--those, my friend, are the measures of a good life. Volunteering? Government Service? Curing Cancer? Epiphenomenal to Happiness.

    Hunh?

    Epiphe--

    No, I mean, what are you, seventeen?

    It's a dialectic.

    Oh, fuck you, "dialectic." You're turning into a sad specimen.

    I know.

    I mean really.

    My mind began softening to butter awhile ago.

    Just stop.

    It's easier this way, traversing the downslope.

    Oh, for God's sake. No wonder we're having this conversation here. In THIS room. Idiot.

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  24. I closed my eyes and felt the heat and pain as one thing. Maybe it was God’s plan. Hurricanes undoing the blackdirt, Rebecca strangled in her car, Mother losing her grip on the world. None of it made sense, if sense was about continually moving toward a better place. Maybe moving to a better place wasn’t the prime directive of life after all. Maybe the Grand Plan was more about the cycle of sin and forgiveness, the rhythm of hope and disappointment. But if I was put in Bob’s life to remind him of his weakness, why was he in mine?

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  25. The morning before he left George Duane met me in the third floor hallway as I came out of the shower. I was wrapped in a towel. He seemed to be waiting for me. Everyone else was at breakfast.
    “Did the article help you?”
    “Oh. Thank you. It’s great.” I didn’t know what to say.
    “And…” he waited for me to continue.
    “It was a murder and a suicide, but there was no sign of a struggle. And she was lying in street clothes on the couch. So it might have been a double suicide after all, even if Sheldon did pull the trigger.”
    “Very perceptive.” He smiled, “You might want to cross reference.”
    “Do what?”
    “Look in other newspapers. The Boston Globe. The Chicago Tribune.”
    “Oh right.”
    “Find a good librarian. They will help you. And good luck. Who knows,” he chuckled, and patted me on my wet head. “You may become an investigative reporter some day.”

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  26. I need to know this because mostly, these women park me in, their bumpers against my bumper. It’s the way women piss on fence posts, this sort of encroachment. A message: watch your back. The long-legged Bambi shrugs blankly, so I end up bumping and feeling my way out the driveway. Sorry about that headlight. Father will write you a check.

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  27. No one expected Jeff to hit any birds so when he brought down two with a single shot then turned to shoot a lone bird with the second barrel the men were impressed and excited. “Well, well, young man,” drawled the dog handler, “ Can you kill enough for supper?”
    “How many is that?”
    “About 18 or 20 I would say.”
    “I think so.”
    “ Man alive, them cooks will be piping mad!”
    “Why is that?”
    “Well they just hate plucking and cleaning all them birds.”
    “We can help.”
    “No sir. You do your job. We all will do our’n.” Jeff killed 24 quail in short order. We had them for lunch the next day on toast points

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  28. Dad thought he knew a few things. Mom gritted her teeth. I resist any temptation to believe I know a damned thing. The women I sleep with grit their teeth. Can't win for loosing. The dialectic of stupid. And now things have gotten very close to too damned late.

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  29. Emboldened by the beer, I approached the microphone. “One song. Only one.” I paused for effect and then added, “That’s all I know.”

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  30. She raises the pipe to her lips and inhales. Smoke rushes into her lungs and out, lifting like fog into the lights overhead.

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  31. Babcia shook me again. “The Matka Boska? Those scars on her cheek? It is reminder that evil around every corner. Sin. Hate. A woman who is lucky enough to bear a child must never spit in God’s eye.”

    “I don’t think,” I said, “that Mother spit in anyone’s eye.”

    “She is cursed,” Babcia said, unfolding her claws from my arms. “There is nothing to do about it.”

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  32. The morning we left Grand Mummy took me to see Alisha Guggenheim’s dog cemetery. There were rows of little arched marble gravestones, some fallen over, some tilting this way and that. The grass grew thick about them. On each one the single name of a beloved dog was chiseled.

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  33. Well. I had my Fosse-like flirtation with Madam Morte. Who hasn't. I mean. A couple of experiments with vacuum cleaner hose and duct tape and a car. And have you ever motorcycled at 165 mph over back roads? With cows on them? But I wasn't serious. Really. I wouldn't be here if I had been. Ok. The motorcycle was stupid. Stupid can be deadly without being suicidal.

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  34. “Oh, did I scare you?” Eric makes a spooky face, turns back to look at them. The light from Kate’s phone skims his face, shadows pooling in his eyes. The engine revs and they accelerate for a second, then slow down.

    “Watch the road,” Kate snaps.

    He laughs. His voice rises in pitch.

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  35. Who was I? Was I the trash receptacle of Bob’s ever-increasing fetishes? Was I a minimum wage Walmart worker who was too much of a bother to even fire? A dyslexic towel girl? A caretaker? Accidental spawn?

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  36. So, this wan ectomorph standing idly on ROLLER BLADES on the edge of the sidewalk looks out on Amsterdam Avenue like it's his private lawn, as if a camera's on him--as if a camera's always on him--and instead of walking by I drop my backpack on the sidewalk with one hand and plow my fist into the side of his face with my other. Down he went, without a sound, rollerblades sliding right out from under him, and THEN, when he's laying there, looking around for what hit him, he yells "what the fuck?" Really, man. I can't move. We just look at each other. I don't have an answer to his question.

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  37. Leaving Watch Hill after a month I am rejuvenated. My hair is sun bleached to a pale blond verging on platinum. The little golden hairs on my arms and legs glitter like fairy dust in the rays of the setting sun. We change planes at LaGuardia and fly west where we will be chasing a sun set over the plains and the endless snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

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  38. So, like a girl who has lost her virginity and gotten pregnant in the same instance, there I am in handcuffs in a holding cell that smelled like vomit and cherry-scented hand soap after having punched a guy for the first time ever. Punching a guy seemed like a lark, a harmless thing to do, what was the worst that could happen? Apparently this. 18 months doesn't sound like a long time does it? That it doesn't is a failure of imagination. Trust me.

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  39. The night preceding Friday’s dawn tragedy, the Dicks had dined at exclusive Stonehenge in Ridgefield and returned home at about 11:00 P.M. While at dinner at the swanky Ridgefield inn, Dick was so taken by plastic ice buckets used in serving cold drinks he offered to buy one.Victor Gilbert, proprietor, magnanimously made a gift of the bucket.Dick said he wanted it for a new ketch he had just purchased. They left the inn holding hands.
    The next time they were seen together, this time by state police summoned to their Greens farm home, they were joined in death.

    Ice bucket? New ketch? Holding hands? It made no sense. This couple does not seem to be planning a double suicide.

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  40. Lily swallows the mercy from the Black Virgin’s voice. She must undo this. Bob has led them to hell, and Rue trotted them right behind. Once he was their lover. Then their captive. Now, their burden.

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  41. The old homeless Indian man had shit himself many times over and the cell stank like a corpse and a pig farm both. But it was good to have the cuffs off. I focused on the circulation coming back to my wrists and would hold my fingers up to my nose to block the stench. Hell, my fingers smelled like piss and grime, but they didn't gage me. I didn't know if I'd be able to get in touch with anyone before I'd start barfing. Especially, because. Well. You know--who could I call? That's a moment you remember. When you realize you CAN'T call the emergency contact you've been filling in on forms for years. That person hasn't talked to you for at least that long. No joke, my friend. No joke. An emergency contact you can call? That's everything. That's the game.

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  42. Rue’s voice, her intention, once it felt like complete consciousness, and now it’s merely a reporter. Abstraction. Where is the family? The sisterhood? How can their mother’s legacy end this way?

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  43. Standing by the fire we dried our glowing naked bodies. Then we turned our backs and got dressed. As Ernie began to leave he leaned against the door and held me in both his arms. I breathed deeply, filling my lungs with his scent of pitch, and sweat, and pumice dust and chain saw oil. Then I let him go.

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  44. The cop said, "you're a goofy fuck, ain't ya?" What do you say to that--the voice of blue collar authenticity cutting through my school tie bullshit. So I said, "sure, you greased pig ignoramus son of a bitch. I'm goofy bur I don't fucking live in Queens or work in this shit hole, bringing assholes their dinner." I didn't get any dinner for a couple of days after that.

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  45. “ The thing is that he criticizes everything about me.” I complained to her about Jeff. “ He hates the music I listen to and says it’s juvenile. He even hates my shoes! I twirl my hair which drives him crazy, and I’m a shitty housekeeper.”
    “ Who ever said you wear going to be a housekeeper?”
    “I don’t know. It comes with being a mom I guess.”
    “Not really. What’s wrong with your shoes?”
    “I don’t know. They’re juvenile too. ” We laughed. Then she said it:
    “He doesn’t love you.”
    “Yeah.”
    “Are you listening?”
    “I am.”

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  46. “We are the monsters we fear, Rue. We are no better than him.”

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  47. Do you still think I'm sweet?

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  48. Frigging frigging flu. I lost a few days. But am back at it.(that's me, not the paragraph)


    The house was cold and I did not want to leave my warm bed, but the pounding on the door continued. I clutched my hot water bottle and to my chest, shivering as I walked towards the door.

    “Who is it?”

    More thumping.

    I turned the lock, opened the door and saw that familiar face that I loved so well. I burst into tears as I threw my arms around Sheila.

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  49. I still had part of the camel of m in my hand as Father pulled me out the door. The second hump of the m. And I held the clay rope, closed my fist around it, and imagined Sheila Lawrence unbraiding the skinny braid in back of her head.

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  50. I chambered a round. Then I snuggled the oily end of the gun securely in my ear, not in my mouth, because I knew the smell of the oil and gunpowder in the dirty barrel would gag me. I held the gun to my ear like a seashell, the muzzle firmly planted. I listened. I unlatched the safety and fingered the trigger and played with how much pressure I could push on it without actually blowing my brains out. I swore I could feel the bullet want to move, to explode forward on a pressure wave of compressed gas I myself could make happen. The bullet itched to do its job.

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  51. Fun, hunh? Sneaking around at night like itchy teenagers. Expensive little vacation, this. Ok. Not vacation. But--I'm not sure it's as advertised, either. So, blow me. If we get caught, we get--what, thrown out rather than locked in? Sounds good to me.

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Thanks for commenting. If you have trouble posting a comment, let me know! suzyvitello@gmail.com