Saturday, June 26, 2010

A (very) Short Excerpt

from a current work in progress


Ryan turned his eyes to me, narrowing them. "But how did you know?" he asked me in the tone he always reserved for questions to which the answers never satisfied.

"How does anybody really know?" I stalled. He didn't buy it. "She touched my arm."

Ryan's reaction was a jumble of surprise, skepticism, and confusion. I rubbed the spot on my arm, to assure one of us that the arm really was there to be touched. "Excuse me, I'm gonna need some clarification," he asked.

"We were having coffee one night, years ago, and talking about paradise, agreeing that it was completely unattainable. And then she shattered the consensus by touching my arm and taking me there." I continued rubbing the spot on my left arm where her coffee-warmed hand had wrapped around my winter-kissed flesh, just below the sleeve of my t-shirt.


For a second, I could smell the coffee shop, the chai tea cakes I had also fallen in love with that night, my stale frozen and dried sweat from the show, her perfume which I found out later to be called "Heaven." I could feel her hand on me, her lips against mine. Ryan asked again and I was brought back to the noise of the DC dive bar. I looked hard at the sagging ceiling tiles and the yellowing beer pitcher half empty between us.


"Paradise," I said. "One perfect moment. She touched my arm, and took me to paradise."

Ryan's right hand moved toward my left arm, his fingers twitching in response to some impulse in his muscle memory or cerebral cortex. I wanted him to feel the spot where she had touched me, to see if he could still feel her energy. Maybe he could find himself on the edge of paradise, looking in at me and Katie Mason, sitting at a Formica table, coffee cups half filled between us, her hand on my arm. Instead, he grabbed the pitcher of Stag and emptied it into our glasses. He picked his up and held it out towards me. "To one perfect moment," he said.

"To one perfect moment." I moved my glass to meet his and we drank. I wanted the juke box to be playing "Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, her favorite song. I wanted her to walk through the door, look around, and find me. Instead, a group of Yankees fans in the corner belted along with "You Give Love a Bad Name." Bon Jovi never fails to ruin my best laid fantasies. "And one more, to paradise," I added.

"Wherever it may be," Ryan said, our glasses touching again. We both drained our beers and decided to go back to the hotel.

"Think Johnny and Adam are awake?" I asked.

"Johnny's awake," Ryan said, pointing past the raucous group in the corner. Johnny was sitting at a table behind them, across from a girl with dark blonde hair highlighted in pink. "Come on, let's go." And Ryan started towards the door, throwing a twenty on the table.

I lingered, watching Johnny and the girl through the laughing crowd. He was cool, uninterested, his eyes darting around the room. His glance fell on me for a moment, continued it's journey and then jolted back to me. I smiled at him, waved. He nodded nonchalantly. I wasn't sure if he didn't want the girl to know I was there, or if he didn't want her to know he wasn't really paying attention. Just as I was about to turn around and leave, I saw her reach out to him, put her left hand on his right arm, between his wrist and elbow. She laughed and pressed her hand to him, and he smiled cooly at her and looked fleetingly in her direction.


This will make more sense in context, I am sure, but I felt this little bit was exceptional, given the quality of my writing lately. Let's hope this becomes more the norm.

Oh, and if you think it sucks and is terrible, don't tell me. This is the best I've been able to do on the novel for a few weeks now. Be kind to the fragile writer.


Anonymous said...
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Brax said...

Your writing is exceptional. I noticed not many people are following you currently. What a shame, this is marvelous. :)

Molly said...

Nope, it's awesome. I can't wait to read the whole thing. I can be a proofreader, you know.