Tag Archives: excerpt from novel in progress

Fiction Friday: Getting Darker

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Working at making my novel-in-progress a little darker, a little grittier.  I think this helps.  It’s set in the main character’s college days.  Remember, this is original work, not to be copied or shared as your own.  Thanks….and enjoy!!

“I used to imagine it sometimes, what would happen if I just didn’t come home.  The thought always came to me when I was feeling particularly unworthy, lacking confidence, seeking attention.  God, I hated how that sounded; like I was an attention-seeking borderline threatening to run off or take my own life.  I could never do that, not really anyway.  The thought was always more about sharing my pain with others, letting them know just how miserable I felt deep down.  My desire to disappear came forth in the form of generosity.  Let me show you how I feel; Welcome to my personal hell; you should feel lucky.

          They were anything but lucky.  My desperation and irritability put a shield around me, making me lonely in busy world. 

          “I wish I could just drive my car off a cliff,” I’d say.  Or, perhaps I met my demise in some other way; the 18-wheeler would come barreling into my tiny Toyota crushing it like a tin can, with me in the driver’s seat.  My short life would flash before my eyes, summer camps and dance recitals, class photos, and crushes. Steve.

          Whatever it was, something terrible would happen and my friends and family—would have to return to my apartment to find all of the daily pieces of my interrupted life.  My dad would see the microbiology text left open on my desk, those tiny colored tabs ruffling the edges of the book.  Remember this.  Memorize that.  My mother would pick up my thong underwear in the corner of the room with her manicured nails and wonder why I spent money on a piece of clothing that covered so little. My roommate would thumb through the mail and set aside the Psychology Today magazine.  There would be to-do notes and lists throughout my bedroom, a brush with hair still entwined in it, Tom Petty stuck in the CD player, framed photos of me and friends, a smattering of greeting cards propped up like dummies. 

          This is how it would look.  A snapshot of my life.  Don’t touch it.  It’s my life.  I would try with all of my might to communicate the message but I would be gone.  Dead, probably.   Because running off wouldn’t be enough.

          Hiding out can only last so long.  Eventually one has to come back, reclaim their old life, or find a new one.  And really, who can reinvent themselves?  We think we can, but when it comes down to it, our personalities are so ingrained, it would be impossible. 

          So being dead would be better. 

          Friends and family—and people I don’t even know would come to my funeral.  They’d wear black and bow their heads and mutter things like she was such a nice person, always smiling…I had no idea…such a tragedy…she held so much promise.  They’d lay flowers on my casket and hug and shed some tears.

          And Steve would be there, too.  His eyes would be glassy and bloodshot, a dark suit, three-days worth of scruff.  He’d lean in and whisper to my parents, “I really loved her, you know?”  They’d nod and pull Steve into a three-way embrace, tears streaming down momma’s face.  Dad would reach up and touch the corner of his eye, but no tears would flow.  After the hug, they’d hold Steve with outstretched arms, resting their hands on his broad shoulders, “You were good for her, son,” they’d say and this time, they’d mean it.  They’d be sorry it was over.  Sorry they never accepted him like I had. 

          Steve would press his lips into a tight line and nod solemnly, his gaze gliding to the open doorway where Beth Donovan sits on a divan in a gray dress and black heels.  She’d twist her face into the doorway of the funeral parlor and there may be tears because she’s my age and she knows that it could have easily have been her who was side-smacked in an accident. How fleeting—and precious life can be.  Perhaps the tears were because she knew she caused my death.

Fiction Friday: Excerpt from Slippery Slope

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By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Imagine a Better Writer

Combing back through that novel-in-progress–trimming, saving, adding–general revising.  Here’s one of the early chapters.  [Remember, this is a work of original fiction and is not intended to represent anyone living or dead.  It it a figment of the author’s imagination.  Borrowing or making your own is strictly prohibited.  Thanks for your understanding].  Enjoy!

An excepert from Slippery Slope:

“I married Joe for several reasons.  One, he asked me.  Two, he had good genes.  And perhaps three, I was in love.  With a mass of coiled PhD brains in his head, I knew he’d pass on intelligence, a trait 86% of the population finds valuable, along with a sense of humor, creativity, and problem-solving ability. 

And so we made babies.  Two of them to be exact, at the preferred two-and-a-half year interval, enough time physicians believe a woman’s body has healed and returned to normal, and psychologists have determined is the “appropriate developmental spacing.”  But now I wonder, would Kenna and Madi’s sweet chatter somehow sound differently if they had been conceived with Steve, and not the deep, profound adult love I made with my husband

 I was torn.  I wanted Steve go away, but I also wanted him to show up again.

In reality, he had.  He left a bit of himself behind, a trace.  Actually, it was a crumb.  A Dorito that attracted a colony of ants.  My girls screamed when they found it on the front stoop and came running to me in the backyard where I was preparing the flower beds for winter.  Digging up and dumping plants that wouldn’t survive, covering the furniture with tarps. 

“Mommy, mommy, mommy!  Bugs!  Get ‘em!” 

Setting down my trowel and brushing my soiled hands down the front of my jeans, I made my way to the front of the house where I saw the pile of ants covering the orange crumb beneath the movement of tiny black bodies.  I could barely make out the chip anymore. 

Steve. 

I picked up the bug infested Dorito, tossed it into the trashcan and smothered it with Raid. It was an unusually warm fall and I felt sort of guilty for taking away the ant’s food source.  They, too were probably gearing up for winter, hoping to take it back to their ant friends in the colony so they could munch on it for months to come. 

But could it be that it was also a source of food for me?  Food for the thoughts he consumed, nibbling at my essence and eating my conscience?  Did that make me his food?

He left that day almost as unexpectedly as he’d arrived.  He always did have a way with arrivals and departures.  This time, after professing his love for me once again and my flippant response, he gathered his legs up from under him like a baby colt and said, “Thanks for lunch.” 

 He got into his shiny SUV and started it with a click before disappearing with a nearly silent purr. 

It was big change from the car we used to make-out in, a red Cavalier that started with a rumble that never ended because of an old muffler. 

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Fiction Friday: Proud Mary and Daring Steve

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here’s this week’s revisions on my novel…getting closer and closer to being done.  We’re just a little over the half-way point here.  This is told from character, Steve’s POV.  Your comments and feedback are always welcomed. 

          “My hands pound the steering wheel to the beat of Proud Mary as the MDX cruises through the town of Waubonsee.  My left foot taps it out.  I crank the volume.  To my left, the Fairfield River. Anglers stand in the shallow body of water, their gators pulled to their bellies.  My head bops in time to the music. I smack the thigh of my jeans. 

         Rolling on the river.

         I think of nothing but the song; how it propels me to a time and place when everything felt right.

        To the time I was with Annie.  The song played on the classic rock station during our first date as I drove circles in the parking lot.   I’ll find out soon if she still looks the same as she did that night. I smack my thigh harder, shifting my thoughts to the town as I peer out the window.    

         A white steeple pierced the sky—a giant penis pointing heaven-bound.  I looked at my crotch.  No action there.  Not yet, anyway.

         We never do anything nice and easy. 

          I scan the streets of Waubonsee.  Lots of Carmargo employees live here. The good side of town.  As I wind the car down the state highway through town, I see why.  A fuckin’ Mainstreet, USA.  My Sister’s Lil Donut Shoppe–what’s a college guy’s definition of a donut?  A poor substitute for a woman. 

          Annie.  There’s no substitute for her.  Not even Beth.

         Pawsitively Cute…an upscale pet boutique.  Speaking of Beth, I’d have to talk to her about getting a puppy instead of a baby.  Milk bones I can do.  Breast pumps, I cannot. 

         I eye the other shops on the block.  The place isn’t bad.  Guys at work said Waubonsee came complete with a signature school district, a mix of professional and blue-collar…the melding of urban and suburban.  All of those assholes from the city?  Well, they move here and clean up their act.  They Have a family.  Like Annie. 

        Left a good job in the city. 

        I lose myself in the music, the song picking up speed.  A distraction from what I am really doing: going to Annie’s house.  Shit, or get off the pot. 

        The fall colors make the place kind of nice, too.  Like a storybook; the book Annie returned.  Maybe the whole damn town is just an illusion. 

       Illusion…illustration. 

       Beth.  I belt out a tune.  I don’t want to think about her.

       She made me hate fall.  Before we moved to Chicago, Beth and I lived in the Quad Cities.  A doctor diagnosed her with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  What a joke of a diagnosis.  Sit in front of a light box for twenty minutes a day, take extra vitamin D.  Get some exercise.  Be a bitch.  That was the least-restrictive treatment approach. 

         I was all gung-ho on meds.

         Then I got transferred.  A promotion, actually.  To Chicago.  Beth gave me that slanty-pissy look.  I told her I’d build her a house.  A big one.  She actually smiled.  Just a little.

        I pull at the collar of my flannel shirt, unbuttoning it a bit and shifting in the car seat.   Indian summer.  I click on the air conditioning and glance at the clock on the dash: 12:42pm.  I have a meeting at 2 o’clock.  Some BS about that focus group.  I tap my thumb on the steering wheel. 

         Workin’ for the man every night and day.

         My scalp tingles with nerves and anticipation.  My mouth grows dry.  Like a piece of sandpaper has been shoved down my windpipe.  I make a left and then a right.  I remember the way.  I’m always somewhere I don’t belong.

       For some reason, I am not as nervous as I was the last time.   

       Prairiewood Drive.  The green road sign is dizzying.  My mouth grows dry.  I slow down for the moms power walking with kids in strollers, lifting my hand in an awkward salute. 

       My instincts tell me to stop.  Turn around in the driveway of that brick 2-story and go back to work, Steve.  But I keep going and grip the steering wheel tighter.   I am here for Annie.  I grip the steering wheel tighter.

Fiction Friday: Calling You

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By Leslie Lindsay

Fiction Friday:

Well, I survived the apocolypse so I guess I owe you a “Fiction Friday” post.  This is from  my novel-in-progress. 

Our protagonist, married mom of two Annie calls her ex-boyfriend’s mother.  [Remember, this is a work of fiction. It is not intended to represent anyone living or dead.  All names and instances are used ficticiously.  It is an orginial work, please do not beg, borrow, or steal.]  Thanks…and enjoy! 

         “The long electronic beep jolted me into action, “Hello…um…hi…Jillian.  Mrs. Kesselhoff.  This is Annie Munroe.  Kelley!  Annie Kelley.  I dated your son, Steve several years ago.”  My voice trailed off, a nervous giggle erupting.  “More than several years ago, actually….”  I sighed, chewed on the inside of my cheek.  What was I doing?  I was just about to hang up when I heard her voice.

          “Annie.  Yes, I remember you,” Her voice moist, soft and gentle despite the rattle in her throat. 

          I gripped the phone tighter, my palms growing sweaty. I pictured a mound of papers on her cluttered kitchen desk: Dillards catalogs, newspaper circulars, a mug of soup in her hands.  She’d touch her temple, delicate, delicate fingers brushing her hair back as she lowered herself to her chair. 

          My throat closed in on itself.  I reached for my glass of water, my knee bobbing.  I cleared my voice, “Oh, you do?”  It was a stupid thing to say, but I couldn’t think of anything else. It was, after all what I had asked; implied.

              “Oh, Annie…how are you?”  Her voice warm, slightly concerned like I was calling with bad news.  Your son’s been in accident. 

              I swallowed a cobweb of phlegm making it difficult to say anything.  “I…um…well, I don’t really know why I am calling,” my voice sputtering like a stalled engine.  I reached for a notepad in my kitchen junk drawer.  Doodling always provided a sense of comfort when nothing else could. 

            “Is there something I can help you with, Annie?”

             Yes, you can get in contact with Steve for me.

            My fingers trembled as I held a black Pilot pen in my hand, pressing the tip to monogrammed stationary, a giant curlicue M centered at the top of the paper – a gift from Joe on our first anniversary, symbolizing strength from the interlaced connection of the paper’s individual threads.

              I leaned forward, pressing my chest on the counter slightly, glancing up at the wall clock again.  Joe and the girls would be home from that giant bounce house any minute. 

             I shook my head slightly, “No, no I don’t need any help.  It’s just I recently moved to the Chicago area, and I learned that Steve also lives here.  I just got to reminiscing…you know, thinking about what a small world it is…” my voice trailed off. 

            I pictured Jillian Kesselhoff tilting her head, looking at the phone base sitting on the desk in her golden brown kitchen, circa 1970 wondering herself where the years went.  A smile on the other end of the line, “You live in Chicago, too?”  

          I nodded, clenching the phone tighter.  “Yeah, I do.  Look, I’m sorry.  I really shouldn’t be calling like this.  It’s been years. I’m married now.  I have two little girls,” I presented these facts as though I was offering to warm-up her coffee, “Two little girls?  Cream or sugar?” 

          “No, no.  Annie.  It’s good to hear from you.”  Her voice laced with curiosity, clogged with sleep. 

           I smiled.  “Yeah…you, too Jillian.” 

          “How do you like Chicago?”  Her honeyed voice thick with Georgia.

          “It’s okay…different up here, though.  Colder.  Longer winters.  I miss the green hills.” 

            A soft chuckle radiated on the other end of the phone, “I bet you do.” 

            I smiled.  “How’re you?  I think about you often.” I shrugged, even though she couldn’t see me in my Chicago kitchen. 

……..

         I closed my eyes.  3540.  3929.  More old phone number segments floated through the vortex of my mind.  Psychedelic numerals, shapes.  ILY.  Memories.  My body lost in a weightless vertigo. 

          When I opened them and looked at my pad of paper—the anniversary gift I received from Joe so many years ago—I saw the M scratched out.

           It was replaced by a cursive K. 

           Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kelley invite you to the wedding of their daughter Annie Marie to Steven Francis Kesselhoff, son of Mrs. Jillian Kesselhoff and the late Paul Kesselhoff.

           Happy Anniversary, baby. 

Fiction Friday: Ovualtion Predictors and Fertility–A Guy’s Perspective

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By Leslie Lindsay

Here’s another installment from my novel-in-progress.  We’re still in the same character’s head from last Friday:  Steve.  He’s just gotten home from work and his wife is “all fertile.” 

[Remember, this is an orginal work of fiction.]

         I stripped down to my boxers, tossed my khaki pants on the floor and pulled that stupid navy blue polo—Carmargo logo and all—over my head.  Since the economy was sorta crappy, the big cheese, Mr. Carmargo himself thought it was good for company morale to wear matching polos. But he always shows up in a suit.  Bastard. 

          I changed into my threadbare South Park tee and a pair of cargo shorts.  Beth hated my T-shirt.  She figured that poking her fingers in the pit holes and calling them ‘scent portals’ would get me to stop wearing it.  It didn’t.

           Finally, Beth emerged from the bathroom all smiles.  I slipped off my sweaty socks and dangled them playfully in her face, “Here, wanna sniff?!” 

           She cringed, turned her nose up and looked toward the arched window over our bed, “Ew, no!  Put those in the hamper, Steve.  Besides, what kind of way is that to greet your wife?” She arched her eyebrows a bit. “Your very fertile wife?” 

           “What?”  I squeaked.  A wave of heat rolled up my neck making my hairline all sweaty. 

           “Yep.  Fertile.  I just took one of those ovulation predictor things and, according to the results, today is prime baby-making time. She waves the wand thing in front of my face.  I half-expect it to smell like pee.

            I take a quick peek.  It doesn’t say anything like “make a baby right now,” but it does have a green color to it.  I guess it was giving us the green light to play hide-the-salami without a goalie.  

            I didn’t want to.

            She pulls at the button on my shorts says, “Just take these off, will ya?”

           I just put them on. 

           “Later, ‘kay?” 

           But she rubs my chest, feeling my pecs through that extra thin, worn tee-shirt.  She was being all playful and cute, a change from the button-up attitude she usually sported.  I pushed her aside.  I really did.  Not hard, but just enough to let her know I wasn’t interested.  I reached for my baseball cap on the dresser and kissed her forehead. 

           Her brown eyes teared up and I almost thought she’d really cry this time. I tried to explain that I just got home from work and I wasn’t feeling all that frisky.  I tried to tell her that later tonight, after I’ve had a chance to ride my bike and decompress with a few video games and maybe a beer, I’d be ready. 

           As usual, she didn’t listen.

          “Stevie, I’ve been missing you all day,” she whined.  “I thought you’d be happy to hear that I was fertile.” 

          “Hon, I think it’s cool that you’re …um, fertile.”  I shrugged, “But now just isn’t the right moment, ya know?  But it’s cool. Good.  Good for you.” 

             “Good for me?  It’s supposed to be good for us.” She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest.  Her face looked like a wadded-up Kleenex. 

THE END (for now)

As always, I appreciate your thoughts, comments, suggestions for improvements, and “likes.”  Best wishes for a happy weekend! 

Fiction Friday: Teenage Guy to Master Bedroom

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By Leslie Lindsay

Here’s an excerpt from my novel-in-progress.  We meet a guy who is moving into a new home, custom-built with his wife.  Let me know what you think–good, bad, in-between. 

[Also, remember this is an original work.  Any characters and descriptions are the product of the author’s imagination and are not intended to be contrued as real.  Please to do not borrow or steal this work.  Thanks!]

“Hey, uh…love of my life?” I was struggling with the box marked, “bathroom.”  It’s much heavier than it appears.  I can only imagine what she has shoved in it.   

         “What?”  Her voice wass distant, a bit irritated. 

         “Where are you?”  I call out after sliding the box across the marble counter in our new master bath.

           “Over here,” Beth responds, “In the den.” 

           I roll my eyes and survey the room.  She used to tell me that she couldn’t wait until she got married so she could share a bedroom with her “prince charming and live like a princess.”  It was her dream.  She wanted an expansive room with frills and a large bathroom. I never really understood the allure myself, having grown up in my older sister’s vacated bedroom. 

          My sister, Val had gone off to Duke on a full scholarship, eight years my senior and dad’s pet.  Since her room was the biggest in the house and she was gone, it was handed down to me, as many things were that had once been my sister’s.  The walls were covered with some ugly flowered wallpaper, that may have been fashionable at one time—but now, they screamed 1976.  Yellow backing and huge green and orange flowers swirled about my guy-cave.  I didn’t really care.  I was just glad to have the “big room” on a floor all to myself.  The adjoining bathroom was nothing to write home about, either.  A shower stall and simple vanity occupied the space, and a small secret-compartment over the toilet where I stashed a few condoms—just in case. 

           I glanced at the box on the counter.  This room made my wife proud.  Me, too.  No more yellowed-flowered wallpaper.   Proud, too because I was able to provide her what she really wanted.  I puffed up my shoulders and looked at myself in the mirror, squinting my eyes in that sexy bedroom way and pursing my lips so they rolled into a perfect bow.  I flexed my biceps just for the fun of it and turned to view my profile.  Alone.  Yeah, I’m the man. 

         I adjusted myself and took a good look around.  After hours of looking at faucets and lighting in the “design showroom,” I had to admit, it did look good.  Scrolling Tuscan this, and etched glass that.   She got everything she wanted, and more. 

          Last night we made love, her back pressed to the Italian ceramic in the double-shower.  She hesitated doing something so naughty in the new bathroom.  It was though she didn’t want the room to be tainted with evidence of something dirty.  Instead of the double shower, Beth thought the money would have been better spent on a sit-down vanity in which to apply her make-up.  I surprised her and got both. 

          This room—the master bedroom and the luxury bath was hers.  I had given it to her.  I wanted her to be happy.  I wanted us to be happy.  I should’ve know it would take more than that.