Monday, December 16, 2013

BOOK RELEASE: Scars


I think of my life in two distinct parts.  The accident separates them into neat parcels.  Or, more correctly, separates me into pieces, which has made pieces of my life.  Whereas, before the emergency workers pried me out of what was left of my car, I ran my sales office like I was still twenty-something, worked out at the gym three times a week and slept a full eight hours every night, now I’m lucky I can walk upright, much less lift a dumbbell, and I get maybe four hours of sleep, at best.
Kathy has been great about it.  Very patient.  Which is good because I’ve given her plenty of reason not to.  After every operation, while I was flat on my back, I got demanding and ill-tempered.  I snapped at her for no good reason other than she was in the room and I had no-one else to take it out on.  And, ever since the first time I came home from the hospital, I’ve barely been able to stand having her in the same room when I get dressed.  Especially when she has to help me.
One night, the air was hot and muggy.  Kathy would have filled a bowl with water and wiped my whole body, if I’d asked.  Instead, I got up from bed because I was too uncomfortable to just lie there, went into the bathroom and took off my shirt.  I was wringing the washcloth for the third time when the bathroom door suddenly opened.
“Oh!  I’m sorry.”
The door closed quickly, but I recognised the voice.  Tess, Amelia’s friend in town for their ten year high school reunion.  It took a couple of minutes to get over the sudden intrusion, and my heart to beat normally.  I put my shirt back on and headed to my bedroom.  As I passed the living room, I saw her sitting on the couch.
“Sorry, Tess.  The bathroom’s free.”
“I’m sorry, Mr Neel.  I didn’t notice anyone was in there.”
“It’s okay.  I should have locked the door.  I used to, all the time, but since the kids moved out, I got out of the habit.  Anyway, you can use it now.”
“Mr Neel?”  She kept her voice down.
“Yes?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.”
“Your back – ”
“I’m sorry you had to see that.”
            “Is that what happened in the accident?”

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BOOK RELEASE: Accommodations





A bead of water crawled down the wine bottle on the coffee table.  Trish leaned back against me, head pressed to my shoulder.  Strands of hair tickled my nose.  Dusk had succumbed and we began the first of two planned nights at her beach house in southern New Jersey.

“I’m glad you came,” she said, just loud enough to be heard over the music.

“I’m glad you let me.  This is a nice place.  I can see why you like coming.”  I kissed her hair and she hummed with pleasure.  “Ever rent it out?”

“No, I use it too much.  Especially during the summer.  After a hard day laying out on the sand, it’s nice to relax on the patio.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you work up quite a sweat getting a tan.  It’s a nice night.  We could go out there now, I think.”

“Mmm, no.  I don’t wanna get up.”  She reached a hand back to my face.  “I never wanna get up.  This feels too good.”

“Don’t get used to it.  I can only stay to Sunday and then it’s back to reality.”

“Don’t remind me,” she said with a mock pout.

For a few minutes we sat together.  I listened to her breathe and felt her chest rise and fall under my hand.

“Funny, isn’t it?”  She took a sip from her glass.

“What’s funny, beautiful?”

“The way things happen.  You know, how we met and all.”

“I guess.”

“We know each other so well.  Even though we’ve only talked online and on the phone, I feel more comfortable with you than just about anyone else.  It wouldn’t hurt if you let me win a game, once in a while, though.”

“It wouldn’t hurt if you increased your vocabulary a little.”

“Go to hell.  My vocabulary is just fine, thank you very much.”  She giggled.  “Besides, it’s hard making words with seven random letters.”

“So you think I should throw a game every once in a while.  Is that it?”

“Well …  Put it that way … ”

“Want me to tell you when I cheat for you or should I let you think you’ve gotten better?”

“Have I told you to go to hell, yet?  Jerk?”

“I love you, you know.”

“I love you, too.”  She let out a big sigh.  “I just wish we’d met before.”

“Before?  You mean, before you met your fiancĂ© or before I met my wife?”

“Exactly.”

“If I remember the math, you would have been twelve when I got married.”

“Shut up.  You know what I mean.  We have so much in common.  We like the same things.  We think alike.”

“Sometimes.”

“And I can tell you anything.”

“Yes, you can.”  I closed my eyes as I stroked her hair.

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