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Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Sample from Legs: Chapter 4


Another sample from Legs from Chapter 4:

Mocha almond fudge never announced it was leaving for South America for a year. Mocha almond fudge never declared it was gay and leaving her. A spoon, a pint, and a good Hugh Grant movie was enough. Eventually she'd add a vibrator of some kind; she wasn't afraid to have a battery-operated boyfriend. It, like ice cream, was always there when she needed it and it didn't talk back.

After the fiasco at the department meeting, Jill had slept in her advisor's office for three hours. She'd dragged herself home on the bus, blinking back tears and focusing on her breathing to keep the headache at bay.

She finished drying her hair with the towel and threw it on the floor, carefully untangling her long, brown hair with a wide-mouthed comb. What a wasted day. The sleepless night, destroyed by her recurring dream, and her one day to bask in the acknowledgment of winning the Munson had been hijacked by her ravenous encounter with Seth. The emotional high and the ripening of possibilities with him made the day so perfect. Then, all of it, destroyed by his skulking, his lie by omission.

She shouldn't be so upset. She zeroed in an on old strategy from high school: self-pampering followed by plenty of ice cream. She'd bathed in bubble bath, shaved and plucked, used a mud mask and painted her fingernails and toenails a nice light pink. Never a girly-girl, these were part of her friends' activities, but she grudgingly admitted to herself that she felt better.

As she'd bathed and washed away the sex, rinsing all traces of his body, his passion, she'd teared up–but wouldn't let herself cry. She soaked out the anxiety, part of getting control again. Leaving for Toronto in two months would complete her process to achieve order.

Briefly, she'd wondered if she were overreacting. Was she making more of this than it really was? Was she writing Seth off prematurely? He'd be gone for eleven months. If this were – longshot of longshots – meant to be, couldn't they try to make it work from a distance?

A bitter laugh escaped as the thought went through her mind. For nearly two years she'd seen relationships end–even long marriages involving kids–when one person went overseas for dissertation research. The long hours in the archive, the new friends. The growth that comes from mastering a new language in context, and the exotic feeling of becoming involved with a native from the country all wrapped up into one neat package why so many grad students were eager to do a year abroad for study. It was a rite of passage to go away and come home with notches on your belt. Once in a while the men even came home with fiances or wives.

Jill's face hardened and she dug into her ice cream, grabbed the remote, and pushed “play” to start her movie.

Someone knocked on her apartment door.

She stood up and cinched her robe, then paused. Maybe she should ignore it. Her apartment building was a large high-rise with a few hundred studios and one-bedrooms like hers. It could be a mistake. The clock read 8:14 p.m. Who would knock on her door at this time on a Friday night?

Whoever it was knocked again. Jill put down her ice cream, paused the movie and sighed. She looked through the peephole and her upper body flushed. There stood Seth on the other side of the door.

She froze. A rush of heat ran through her, standing there in a robe and nothing else, her wet hair a half-tangled mess. The chocolate taste in her mouth went metallic and her hands felt like they were owned by someone else as she undid the chain and deadbolt and opened the door.

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