[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
yes, i've finished the "what i've been trying not to say" post. and i know at least two of you are all tingly with excitement, breathless with anticipation to read it. but, let me just clear up one thing before we all get carried away: matthew perry does not appear anywhere in the post.
furthermore, i'm not posting it today. i would have, but i have the matter of a promise to keep first.
a few days ago, the ever-awesome vectorgirl started an online collaborative novel. she wrote the first installment, and then passed the torch on to another blogger, who then passed it on to me, and i'll then pass it on to another blogger, etc. sort of like those shampoo commercials where they say, "and she told one friend, and she told one friend." at any rate, it's been a good stretch to try and shake loose the cobwebs of writer's block for me. fiction isn't my bag at all, so this was a nice change. plus, it's a great way to pimp my site and pimp the sites of other folks, too.
so, to read part one, please visit vectorgirl and read her april 8th entry.
part two comes courtesy of my yes-i-really-know-him-in-real-life-and-i-swear-he's-not-blue friend cw in his april 9th entry. and that direct link seems to be all screwed up, so you might need to scroll. i blame it on blogger.
and, now, part three:
paige stops in mid-sentence.
she picks up the pack of marlboro reds that eddie left behind. she used to smoke. she loved the taste of cigarettes. the feel of a cigarette in her hand. but, eddie had told her it was trashy for a woman to smoke. his mother had taught him so. and, certainly, she wasn’t trashy. so her smoking stopped.
she grabs a cigarette and lights it. she takes her time inhaling, feeling the familiar burn in her lungs, closing her eyes.
she exhales slowly.
“listen, tracy, let’s cut the bullshit. you know it’s me, and i know it’s you. and you and probably everybody else in this godforsaken one-horse town already knows that eddie beat the shit out of me again last night. and i don’t need to give you directions to my boyfriend’s brother’s house because you live two blocks up the street from him and he was the first boy who ever felt you up, so how about we drop the act and you just ask my brother to go by rob’s house after his shift is over tonight and talk to eddie? i don’t want him arrested, i just want him to know that it would be best if he didn’t show up here for a day or two. just long enough for me to clear out, okay?”
“i never let robbie caldwell feel me up. he just told people that.”
the second drag is even better than the first. paige decides quickly that she will finish the pack, along with the rest of the tequila that put her to bed last night.
“i saw you, tracy. it was ninth grade. under the bleachers. during the homecoming game. now, will you please give my brother the message?”
“so, did he give you another black eye?”
“thank you, tracy.”
she hangs up the phone.
sometimes she hates living in a small town. the way everyone knows her business. the way everyone knows her name.
then again, living in a small town does have its occasional advantages. such as having a brother who is the chief of police and being able to ask him to go talk to your boyfriend and unofficially officially suggest that he stay away from you.
the story on eddie caldwell was that he was the prodigal son returned home. he’d left the small town of his youth in search of success in the world of writing. a few of his short stories had found their way into literary magazines, and, for a time, he was heralded as the next big thing. but the promise never materialized and he’d come back to teach at the local college. paige still remembers the first time she ever saw him. she walked into her creative writing class, and he was standing behind the lectern, idly thumbing through papers. something about him took her breath away. if she closes her eyes, she can still see him, every detail burned into her mind.
to paige he had seemed so wordly. so eloquent. as his student, she had hung on his every word of encouragement, eager to improve in an effort to win his attention. later, as his lover, she had been equally eager to please him, and it was in this way that she postponed her dreams of moving to the west coast to pursue the life of a writer. eddie convinced her to stay here with him. he would help her hone her writing while he taught at the college and worked on his great american novel at night. together, they would take the writing world by storm. but he couldn’t do it without her there, he said. she was his muse.
that was five years ago.
she had graduated and gone to work part-time at the college library. she still dreamed of writing, but now it was something she did only on occasion, or in secret. once she was no longer a student, eddie’s words of encouragement had become increasingly rare.
“do you really think this is good enough to get published? i mean, paige…this is sentimental treacle.”
her face had burned hot. her writing was personal. a part of her. as a writer himself, he should know that. it stung to hear him be so dismissive.
"‘sentimental treacle’ is redundant. strive for economy in your words. less is more. you taught me that.” she retorted.
he lowered the newspaper and levelled his eyes at her.
"it's strictly amateur hour stuff, paige. i see better from my freshmen. it's an insult that you would even waste my time and ask me to read it."
“amateur hour? well, that ought to qualify me to teach at a small college, right?"
the slap was sharp and fast across her face. at first she didn’t realize what had happened. it seemed unreal. inconceivable.
“paige, you know i have a temper. it’s not fair to provoke me like that and not expect a reaction,” he said. his voice was quiet and steady and calm as he reached for his cigarette. he took a drag and continued reading the morning paper.
her hand rests on her cheekbone as the memory of that day fades away. standing here now, it seems a million years ago. a thousand slaps. a hundred black eyes.
she knows this will be hard. that it will hurt. that she might get weak and go back to him like she has before. but she just keeps telling herself that her life will be a better place without him in it. she's done her time. let him beat on someone else.
as she lights the next cigarette, she remembers an old adage her grandfather used to tell her. something about not taking any wooden nickels. she wonders if it isn't just as bad to pass along a wooden nickel as it is to take one.
after all, if her life will be better without eddie caldwell, wouldn't everyone else's?
if you'd like to participate in the collaborative novel project, leave a note in the comments section, or contact vectorgirl directly. you can check out part four courtesy of lex.
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