So, you all know I spent most of this week on revising a chapter of the novel for class. You know this, of course, because I bitched about it incessantly.
For my Obligatory Friday Excerpt, I'm posting part of the chapter. It's fairly long, but I can't see another way to lift a section and have make any sense to you.
If you'd like to read the whole chapter, just leave me a note and I'll send it to you. I wrote more last night, so I'll update my word count later after I type it up.
"Just gimme a sec, Don," I say. "I'll be right with you."
He smiles, so pleased. "Yeah, I know you will."
I smile back at him, reach the tip of my tongue out to quickly lick the corner of mouth. One of her patented moves. So easy, so obvious. Not so hard at all.
I walk up the stairs to the bedroom with her scurrying along behind me.
"Vi, what the fuck are you doing? You know he thinks you're serious, right?" She is laughing, on the verge of laughing harder, as soon as I get to the punch line. "Vi, come on – what do you want me to tell him?"
But I'm not looking at her. I'm looking right over her slim, pale shoulder to the mirror. Oh God, my hair. And this dress. And this bed.
"What do I do with the bed? Should I pull back the covers? Do you just do it on top of them? Do you have to remake the bed every time?"
Her eyebrows go up, hands off my shoulders. I almost smile.
"Violet. He is going to come up here and expect to FUCK you, do you understand that? You're going to get on that bed and he is going to put his dick in you and touch you and probably try to kiss you – this is not a joke. You can't say `gotcha' after he's naked or something. Cara will throw a fit. He's a customer."
She's standing there saying all this in her little red dress with her lipstick and dark eyes, looking like she belongs in here. I look in the mirror again at my two cutesy little pigtails and my Gap dress, almost no make up on my face. My throat is tightening. The pulse is beating.
"Will you tap me in half an hour?"
She backs up against the dresser, leans against it. "No.'
"No, you won't tap me in half an hour?"
"No, you're not fucking doing this. You're crazy."
And I get it. It's not that she doesn't understand, can't see where I am. She knows I wouldn't carry this joke this far. She does think, though, that she can pull me back.
"Carrie – "
"No. Shut up. He is a customer, do you understand? He pays women to have sex with him. Do you know how many women he's probably been with? Probably even today?"
"How many times have you told me I should do this? How much money I could make?" I laugh right in her face. "Now you're pulling all this shit out?"
"Jesus, Violet, when was the last time you even got laid? Do you think what you’ve got is worth three hundred dollars? You know Cara doesn’t give refunds. "
Its one of those dramatic moments when I just want to fucking slap her right across the face. It would be appropriate. She deserves it. She probably even wants me to, the force of my hand hitting her will bring me back, back to my rightful side of the line.
But I can’t lose it now. I’m already upstairs, I’ve decided. It’s already happening, it’s in motion. I’m already floating. The option to turn back simply does not exist.
"I got laid four months ago. And I'm getting laid tonight. So do I do it under the covers or over?"
She says nothing and I could climb inside her head at this moment and map my way through her every thought. Half of her is impressed, amused. The other half is scared because this was never in her plan. She doesn't know me at all, doesn't know who she's looking at. I suddenly wonder why I've never done this before. I can't wait to shut the door in her face and get him inside me.
"I'm doing this. Don't talk anymore. Just tell me what to do." My voice is firm and clear. No wavering. You're not gonna get to me. There will be no arguing it. It's already happening and you know better than to waste your time trying to stop me.
Her shoulders slump down and suddenly Carrie is standing there looking at me. Usually, I can’t see her in here, behind all the Eva stuff. Most of the time in this place I try not to see Carrie at all. But at this moment, when she’s standing in front of me in this tiny room on East 32nd Street in the middle of the afternoon, when I am about to do this, actually do it, she is no one but Carrie. She’s the girl from St. Joseph’s Academy, the girl whose parents keep a portrait of her at 2 years old hanging over their ancient piano, the one on which she learned to play not long after that portrait was painted. I see Carrie and the moment we’re in starts crawling up my skin, the reality of it is suddenly as tangible as the tiny scar over her left eyebrow. I don’t know how she does it. In here, I am never anyone but Violet and I don’t know how she can look at me in all my simple and plain Violet-ness and do what she does not 40 feet away from me.
She looks at me with those unremarkable hazel eyes and I know she has decided to stop fighting me.
Show me your underwear. (Fresh and clean. No rips or anything.) Are you wearing a pad. (No.) What kid of bra do you have on. (Plain. White.) Have you shaved your legs. (No but they're fine.) Have you shaved your pussy. (It's trimmed.) Do you have your period. (Christ no.) Are you ovulating. (Don't think so.) Do you need lube. (No.) Do you need a condom. (Yes.) Don't suck his dick without a condom. (Really? ) Take the money from him up front.
"Get the money from him before you do it. Just say, 'Let's settle everything so we can get into it.' Say it low, you know, in that voice. Say it sexy, so he doesn't realize what you're saying."
She is all business with me and I'm suddenly in love with her again because she clicked right into my mind. As always, I feel the pieces of her mind fitting into the pieces of mine, perfectly, effortlessly. She knows exactly what to do, not to argue with me, that the time for arguing has passed now. I love her for knowing me so well and I hate her for making me love her so much. This isn’t fucking about her. Really.
"Violet, do you understand? Take the money from him up front. Don't do anything until you get it. Do you hear me?"
She's looking at me, waiting for an answer, an acknowledgement. I just look at her, pull my lips apart, say nothing. I can't look at her asking me questions anymore. I can't look at her face, the thick purple lipstick and the pinched pinkness of her cheeks, I can't look down at the gnawed-away tips of her fingers clutching my forearm and listen to her teach me. If she doesn't stop now, I won't be able to do it. She sounds too much like Carrie and I have to keep floating. I have to keep floating.
I can't take the money, I think. I simply cannot do it. I don't know how to tell her.
"Okay, I'll take it from him," she says. " I'll give it to you after."
God, shut up. I want to say. Don't make me love you now. Just shut up and walk out.
Professor X says:
Write a letter to the person you'll be in 25 years. What do you want to remember? Paint a portrait of yourself now that you'll look at in 25 years. Write it in the second person.
In twenty-five years, you’ll be 57. I have no idea who you are. I do know a lot about you. Here are some things you may have forgotten about your 32-year-old self, things you should really remember.
You are empty New York cafes on a Wednesday afternoon and quiet Staten Island Ferry rides in the rain. You are yearly pilgrimages to New Mexico and too much flesh on your body, unrealized potential and underachieving. You are who you are when the pen hits the page and before it’s lifted again – the person who shows up in those minutes is the real you.
You are Mabel’s salon and Gertrude Stein’s Rue des Fleurs flat. You are long, slow cups of coffee sipped while sitting at a waterside café in Venice. You are the long boat ride you took under the searing Italian sun, from one island to another, alone, silent and alert. You are that schoolteacher from Hawaii you met on the train ride between Prague and Vienna and you are the four locks on your apartment door that you check 12 times each night. You are a neverending supply of iced tea in your minifridge and the itchy gray wool pullover you wear to the laundromat.
You are the tip of this pen that is too thin for your taste and you are cold evenings in greasy diners sitting across from your grade school best friend. You are Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Desperately Seeking Susan and every other movie ever made about someone wanting another life, something more, something apart from the monotony to which they were born.
You are long afternoons with Glory getting all the black washed out of your hair, you are the streak of blue she paints in near your right ear and you are thin eyebrows and combat boots and lattes with whipped cream on top. You are that little outdoor café on the square in Prague where you sat alone under a tall heat lamp on a chilly summer night 3 years ago, when you stared at the blue and pink lights illuminating the tall gothic church in front of you and you are the ghost of Kafka that lives in that house where he grew up, you are the footsteps of Mozart you felt around your feet when you walked through his Vienna flat, all the descriptions and directions on the walls written in German so you couldn’t understand them.
You are the dirty New York subway platforms where you watch the rats scurry around the tracks and wonder if they’ll survive the arrival of the next train. You are that moment in the zendo when the bell is rung three times, you are the tall candelabras in Mabel’s kitchen and you are long mornings in CJ’s studio writing till your hands curl and you are the one who inspired that adoring look in that beautiful boy’s brown eyes. You are the one who saw through all his miles of illusion and knew exactly who he was long before he chose to show you. You are the girl in the mirror, the blonde in the black dress who can write and sing and fuck and talk and drink, the one who you are finally, finally waking up to.
I'm afraid my word count continues to suck due to the fact that, for the past five days, I have been working feverishly on revisions an already-existing Violet story for my class tonight.
I usually can't write at the office, but since I'm working twelve hours shifts for the next two days, I guess I'm gonna have to try. Ugh.
Anyway, teensy weensy little rise in my word count. Maybe I'll post a snippet later tonight. I'm not sure it's snippet-able, though. If my team of crack editors has any suggestions for a snippet, please let me know :)
Okay, back to the grindstone.