Write On, Wednesday: Worldbuilding Idea 672

By Leslie LindsayMisc Feb-March 2013 012

According to Wikipedia, worldbuilding is the process of contructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a fictional universe. The term is often used in conjunction with science fiction, but in no way is limited to this genre. Think about it: every good book has a sense of place, time, history, geography, etc. that pulls us right into the story. No aliens or zombies, or oobeleck needed.

As a writer, you may  think the only tool at your disposal to accurately develop a world is your words. Well, yes…and no. What’s worked best for me is to work on an idea board by gathering images, words, phrases that I feel best represent my novel’s world.

Undoubtably,  you have a host of junk mail that clogs your mailbox. Why not use some of it to build your fictional world? That Ballard Designs catalog could have a really great bedroom advertised.  Would it do for your protagonist?  Snip it out and add it to your board. How about color swatches that you’d like to have a recurring role in your manuscript? Go ahead, add those, too. My board also has photos of L.L. Bean models because that’s how I see my protagonist’s hubby. (Although he apparently needs some work–my critique partner doesn’t see him as handsome as I do). Novel idea board 002

Since my story is based on an urban legend, the board also contains real newspaper articles about the area, as well as maps. One map is actual–the other is derived from  my brain based on the descriptions I’ve given to the protagonist’s subdivision. I’ve even written her address down because it comes up from time to time and I forget it (it’s all made up, anyway!) so, instead of culling through pages and pages of manuscript where I originally made note of it, it’s on the board: 1247 Rock Hollow Lane.

I’ve also cut out book cover images (from catalogs, magazines) I think mesh with how I’d like the finished product to look–think of it as motivation.

As I write, I look at the board from time to time. What I may not be thinking of consciously, slips into the words of my manuscript almost magically. It helps to submerge myself into the work, rather than be a standby.

So, what are you waiting for?! Write on, Wednesday!

Fiction Friday: The Caul

By Leslie Lindsay

I’m a getting a good sense of character, Melanie Dunbar (Mel) from my new novel-in-progress, “Zombie Road.”  Here she in the shower just after giving birth to her daughter, Enye. It’s one of those strange postpartum moments of elation and exhaustion, the innate need to protect one’s offspring.

“The warm spray from the shower pelted my back, a strange tingling sensation that somehow made me feel whole, even though I was at my most vulnerable—naked and postpartum.

          Suddenly, as the slick bar of pale-green soap slipped through my fingers, I stepped on Enye, my feet squishing through her tiny body slumped against the shower stall, a contusion of limbs—purple and unmoving.

“My baby!” I shrieked, “Enye!”  The room spun, black and gray, the water cascading down my shoulders, a moment of vertigo. I clutched the soap dish to break my fall. If I fell, I’d be that much closer to my dead baby. I gripped the metal side rail on our double-shower, blood clots running down my puffy legs.  “Ran! Ran, I need you,” I called out over the hum of the shower, hoping, praying he heard me.

I bent down slightly, inspecting baby Enye closer. When—why—had I brought her into the shower with me?  Her delicate body was not moving. My heart raced, tears streamed down my face, milk from my engorged breasts.

“Ran, oh my God!  Ran, get in here. Now!” my voice emanated from my body as if it weren’t really my own, the voice no longer belonged to me, but an animalistic call of the wild.

          He arrived, throwing our bathroom door open, a pink bundle in his arms. Our baby. I looked to the shower floor, the tile muddied with locchia, but not a dead baby. Enye was warm and snug in her daddy’s arms. By now, tears of foolish relief poured from my eyes.

   “Mel. Sweetheart, what happened?” Ran’s voice was concerned, but not in any other way except loving regard.

“I…I…Enye…she was,” I began.

“With me the whole time,” he supplied. My eyes darted back to the small pink bundle of baby in Ran’s arms, he cocked his head and gently tugged the blanket from Enye’s delicate face. My breast milk intermingled with the warm spray of the shower as I caught sight of our baby, her small mouth moving slightly. The shower continued to run, the sound soothing, my body dripping wet and cold as I held the shower door open, my mouth agape.

“Honey, why don’t you finish up and come downstairs,” Ran suggested. “Everything’s okay; you’re probably just overly tired.”

I nodded and slid the shower door closed, ducking my head under the spray as I lathered my hair, carefully avoiding the patch of the shower floor where my dead baby rested.

          She would never drown, she was a caulbearer.


[Thanks for reading! Always open to comments & suggestions. Please remember this is an origninal work of fiction and not to be taken or shared as your own. Shower image retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shower on 1.24.14]

Fiction Friday: Mel & Leelah

By Leslie Lindsay Write On, Wednesday:  Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You're Having an Affair

Welcome back to my novel-in-progress, ZOMBIE ROAD. If you are just now joining us, the idea of this book originates from an urban legend in St. Louis County, Missouri.  Story goes the very area nick-named “Zombie Road” is teeming with ghosts and ‘shadow people.’ Melanie Dunbar, my character has recently relocated to the area from Chicagoland, only now instead of being a deserted road, it’s a development of McMansions where she lives with her husband. Here’s some of Mel’s backstory to help give us some understanding of where she’s at now.

Melanie Dunbar

Chestnut Ridge, Missouri

“I used to like to play dead.  It was a sick and macabre game to pass the long days in mother’s art studio.  She’d be lost in a vision of oil streaking her canvas and I’d lie on the rag rug on the floor, my breath held, wondering just how long I’d be able to hold out; wondering too if my face was turning indigo like the paint on mother’s brush. If I allowed my chest to expand, I knew it would give me away. A dead give away.

When you’re dead, you don’t feel anything.

Feeling wasn’t my best subject. I learned to escape into a world void of emotions. They weren’t worthy, a waste of time. Facts, figures, and absolute certainty felt safer, and more comforting.

When I tired of playing dead, I’d remove my folded hands from my chest and slowly re-enter the land of the living. Mother would hum and step back from her easel, and tilt her head in approval as her eyes took in the swipes of purple, blue, and magenta. Winter colors.  She’d run her fingers through her hair, “You done with that silly business of yours, Mel?”

She didn’t have to look at me to know what I’d been doing.  I’d nod and twist on the small black and white television set, turning the knob with a loud click-click to channel U where I’d lose myself in animal documentaries and3-2-1 Contact. Sometimes, I’d stare at Bob Ross’s dark afro and his happy little trees just to appease mom. A career in the abstract would never satisfy me.

And then Leelah came along.

Her hair ran down her back in a dark, wavy pony tail. Her face was blurred, so I couldn’t say whether she was happy or sad, but I am guessing she was sad. She’d show me things—pencils, a metal spoon, a comb, anything ordinary—and ask how they were used. My eyes would widen as I’d sputter, “You mean, you’ve never combed your hair, or used a pencil to write a letter?”

“No, never,” she’d respond.

“But why?”

“Never mind why,” she’d say.  “Just show me.”  Her brown eyes would bear into mine hazel ones, “Now. Please.”

So, I taught Leelah how to comb her hair first by showing her how own my favorite Barbie with silky blond strands.

“Like this?”  Leelah took the flimsy plastic from my hand, ran it from Barbie’s scalp to her back in one smooth motion.
          “Yes, that’s right.”

We played like that for hours in mother’s studio.  The sister I wished I had. Our play fell into predictable routine, carved between hours of watching mother paint and smoke and curse that she hadn’t found her big break, yet. Stacks of quarters became side tables for Barbie’s couch, and they took were asked how they were used.

Money, you mean?” 

Leelah nodded, waiting for answer.

“Well,” I began. “Money is used to buy things.”

“But how, do you get this thing called money?” She asked.

An exasperated sigh and a beat later I’d say, “Leelah, don’t you know anything?” 

“I like hearing it from you, Mel.  You’re the smartest girl I know.”

I smiled the kind of smile I didn’t want her to see, ducking my head low and pretending to look at the floor. “Oh. That’s nice of you to say.” My cheeks burned with pride, embarrassment. I’d dart my eyes towards mother at her easel, lost in her painting, not bothering to notice my antics of talking to myself.

[Thanks for reading! Remember, this is original fiction and not to be taken as your own, or shared as such.]

Fiction Friday: Met My Old Lover at Grocery Store

By Leslie Lindsay

What happens when your antagonist sees the love of his life at the grocery store?  It’s been years and she’s all grown up with a kid…why, you stalk her of course!   (image source: wikipedia.  Retrived 8.16.13)

When the doors finally slide open revealing Annie and her shopping cart, my pulse quickens.  I toss back the remainder of the beer and watch like a hawk drawn to its prey.  Annie Fuckin’ Kelley.  God, she looks good, even behind a kid-laden shopping cart.  I swallow, part of me crazy-jealous of the man she married, who must be the father of this kid and the other part of me in awe, proud to say she was once mine.  I watch as she struggles with the cart over a pothole, unsnap the kid from the front seat and place her in the minivan.  If only I could help her.  I would; I’d smile and say, “Looks like you could use a little help with that.”  She’d startle because she’d recognize the voice; a familiar feeling would wash over her as a smile appears across her face, shy and demure.  I might stuff my hands in my pockets, flash a sheepish grin as I got my wits about me, or I’d just reach forward and start loading her van with shopping bags.  But what I’d really want to do is lean in a kiss her cheek. 

She hands a stuffed puppy to the pudgy little fingers extended from the door and then goes around to the back hatch of the van where she transfers groceries.  With each lift of a bag, I watch her sculpted muscles, eye her chest.  Once she’s finally ready, I click the engine of the MDX to life.  I let her pull out of the parking lot first, me slowly following behind.   

We travel for several miles along Fox Creek Road, the dizzying array of farms intermingling with big box companies.  I keep a close eye on her minivan from the safety and security of my own vehicle, one I know she’d never recognize as mine—it’s too new, too classy for her Steve memories. 

Annie slows and makes a right turn onto a side road and then a left onto Prairiewood Drive.  My hands tremble as I steer alongside the suburban community reminiscent of my youth.  I take care to slow down from time to time as if reading a map, checking my iPhone, feigning misdirection.  But I know exactly where I am going.  The buzz from the beer numbs my brain as fear grips my chest, tight skeletal fingers reaching in, grabbing hold of my heart.  I say her name; it comes out in a hoarse whisper, an assault (insult??) to my overactive imagination.  Annie.  Annie. Annie.  It’s almost time, my little peach. 

The van slows at Halverson Lane, a tree-lined street filled with everything domestic—kids, bikes, neighbors.  I duck slightly, tipping the bill of my baseball cap lower and then pull over to the side of the road where I kill the engine.  As much as I want to see the place Annie Kelley calls home, I can’t risk being seen.  I release a held breath and tell myself I need to relax, to take it easy; this is no way to reconnect with my girl.  All good things happen with time; man plans and God laughs.   

Think, Steve.  Think.  I rub my chin and fumble for the pen.  Quickly, I scribble out the street names onto the same scrap of paper I catalogued her family.  I fold it into quarters and shove it into the lower pocket of my cargo shorts.  How easy it would be to get out of the car, walk along the sidewalk and end at her home, the garage door still raised, an invitation to her life.  I rake my hands through my hair as I consider other options: a friendly chat with the neighbors; perhaps walking door to door, a clipboard in hand, a story that I’m with the neighborhood association asking about summertime memories for the newsletter.  But I realize my mind is confabulating, an unwelcome intrusion—they probably don’t even have a neighborhood newsletter. 

After a few minutes, I start the car and spin out of the neighborhood.  When I look at the date displayed on the dash, I am comforted that I’ll be back.  Three more days, Annie.  Three more days. 

[this is an original work of fiction from my novel-in-progress.  Please do not take as your own.]

Fiction Friday: Novel Newspaper Article

By Leslie Lindsay Write On, Wednesday:  Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You're Having an Affair

Here’s a glimpse into one of my newer characters, Nolan Baxter.  He’s a journalist for the Chicago Tribune who mostly writes things in the fluffy section of the paper–which just so happens to be my favorite section.  This is a mock newspaper article that will fit somewhere into that novel of mine…


Nolan Baxter

Wednesday, May 22, 2013      Chicago Tribune

          Every opera you’ve ever heard, every painting you’ve ever admired, every book you’ve ever read is reducible to a chemical released in the artist’s, composer’s, or author’s brain.  We can even map where in the brain that work got done.  Some may have occurred in the occipital lobe where imagery lives; some in the insula which feels emotion, and some in the prefrontal cortex where problem-solving and language take place.  It isn’t artistic beauty, it’s biology. 

          At least that is one way to look at it—but not the way we prefer.  Instead, we prefer the more esoteric way: that creativity is a flash in the pan summoned to you from some deep, dark mysterious place.  In a recent study, 58% claimed to have “sudden inspiration” when it comes to producing creative ideas, whereas 32% claim it takes time—that is, thinking about a problem for a good amount of time. 

          When creative individuals were asked if they think in terms of images or words, exactly half (50%) indicated they saw their ideas flushed out in the form of pictures.  While 34% found that their creative bursts poured forth in words alone; 4% found that their creativity was revealed through sounds. 

          Did you hear that? 

          Say you hear the rumble of a train and the blow of its horn.  It may spark your creative powers to draw forth a metaphor for solving another, unrelated problem.  The tick-rumble of your refrigerator may lead you think of the silly joke about your refrigerator running, but that joke can trigger another helping you remember where you put your keys.  Individuals with ‘average creativity’ may have some of these abilities, but not as strongly as those who are crowned with a creative cap. 

          Don’t feel like you’re a member of the elite “Club Creative?”  Never fear.  We may not all be created equally where this trait is concerned, but we do have a choice as to how we use the creativity we’ve got. 

Write On, Wednesday: Tour of Non-Sites

By Leslie Lindsay Misc Feb-March 2013 012

I was driving around my neck of the woods here in southwestern Chicagoland the other day when it dawned on me how much of my novel-in-progress really could be set here.  Okay, full-disclosure: it is set in this area–at least parts of it are–but the names have been changed.  I can’t give everything away, lest there won’t be any point in using faux names for these suburbs I have created, the street names, the style of housing. 

As my car wound around the US highways,  the suburban landscape having morphed into housing developments seemingly overnight from corn fields, I see a strong resembelence to the world I  created for my characters–Annie, Steve, Joe, Beth and their counterparts. 

We could go south a ways and I could show you the real Cherrydale, inspiration for Steve’s stomping grounds.  If I shot over west, I’d point out the McMansions that made an appearance in Annie’s chapter on the secret shopping adventure for a real estate developer.  If we go back to the US highway I mentioned, I’d slow down and gesture towards the smattering of roadside motels which became Steve’s respite following a fight with his wife. 

It’s not that any of this was intentional–but merely a coincidence–(ah!  Another theme of the book).  These so-called ‘places’ came to life in my novel.  No, that was never my full intention.  But when the places spoke to me as if there were real, living breathing characters it dawned on me that they were an integral part of the book. 

However, many of the places of Slippery Slope remain a figment of my imagination.  The Cress Creek Bistro?  Doesn’t exist.  Carmargo Medical?  Don’t think so–but it is a conglomeration of several medical and manufacturing facilities I am familiar with.  The townhouse complex with Beth and Steve first live in Rock Island–fake.  Pat Cooper’s Victorian apartment and office–came to me in a dream. 

When  you start to think about your work-in-progress, where might you develop ideas for settings?  What places from your past or present may represent a unique perspective for your characters? 

Take a drive.  Look at the homes, the parks, the areas of recreation.  Do you see your characters there?  Jot some notes, snap a few photos.  Review them from time to time.  Heck, put them up on a bulletin board or tuck them into a notebook.  Let them serve as inpiration when you work on your project. 

What are you waiting for?  Write On, Wednesday!


Fiction Friday:

By Leslie Lindsay Misc Feb-March 2013 012

Working on something new to piece into my novel-in-progress, this is meant to show Steve, a biomedical engineer’s obession with his first-love, Annie.  Let me know your thoughts! 

“The only thing I know is promises should have been made.  A contract, an algorithm of love: 

Girlfriend says she needs spaceàbreak-up.  End of relationship.

Option Two:

Girlfriend says she needs spaceàgive her space but not too much. Keep her hanging in your world.  Because you love her too damn much. 

It’s like the fine art of balancing a chemical equation.  God, but Annie hated chemistry.  She was the entropy agent, blasting into the relationship generating thermodynamic heat, a contrast between order and disorder. 

I will her into my mind, fast-forwarding the years. Annie is small, delicate, frail.  She sits in a chair at a sunny window.  Her hands are mottled with age spots, prominent veins blistering blue and purple.  I cup her hand with my own, watching it transform before my eyes—youthful, slender straight fingers spread forth.  I lean in and kiss her cheek.  “You’re only getting better,” my voice raspy, riddled with emotion.  She looks up at me, blue eyes glassy.  I clasp a necklace around her, brushing her gray hair from the back of her neck.  She shivers as she turns to face me.  A beautiful woman. Mine. 

Again, and again.  And again.”

[This is a work of fiction.  Working title, “Slippery Slope.”  Please do not share or take this original work as your own without person.  Thank you!]

Fiction Friday: Meet a New Character from my Novel-in-Progress

By Leslie LindsayWrite on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

After culling through  my completed manuscript and making notes…okay, about 100 color-coded notecards, I have come to the conclusion that I need another layer woven into the tapestry of my story.  Meet Nolan Baxter.  He’s there for a reason: to impart information to the reader that main characters Annie and Steve may not know or have access to.  He’s there to make readers say, “WTF?”  and he’s going to help tie things together in the end. 

Take a peek.  Let me know your thoughts.  Remember, this is an original work of fiction. Please do not make your own. 

***Be sure to LIKE my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/LeslieALindsay1?ref=hl***

“Nolan Baxter wrote the obligatory ghost story on Halloween, the stories of lasting love on Valentine’s Day and interviews folks around the Bean about homelessness.  Worse, Nolan Baxter was a chameleon, his colors changing based on who he was around—and how he could please them, never fully understanding who he was and what made him tick.

          Human interest stories became his passion.  What interested others surely would interest him.  But, it didn’t. 

          Still yet, he had a job to do.  When the senior editor got wind of a special exhibit at the art institute, Nolan armed himself with a notebook and trucked down Michigan Avenue. 

          The flags flapped in the wind as Nolan traipsed up the steps of the massive stone building, his Converse sneakers ill-matched with his wide-whale cords and Gingham shirt.  He nodded to the overly large bronze lions standing guard—now weathered and turning green—commissioned from sculptor Edward Kemeys.  He found it interesting that the lions had unofficial names—the southern-most sculpture called “stands in an attention of defiance,” whereas the northern- most lion is referred to as “on the prowl.”  He knew all thanks to a past story he penned for the Trib on the 120th anniversary of the building. 

           When Nolan reached the front windows of the Art Institute, he flashed his press pass and followed an elderly docent inside. He marched forward and headed down the main staircase to the lower level where the traveling exhibits were on display.

           To his luck, one of the resident art professors shuffled about the lower level rounding up folks for a tour.

 “Art is like magic,” he began.  “Not many would identify art as magical,but I am not just anyone.”  Nolan rolled his eyes at the professor’s pretentious comment. He thought he had escaped the brainy type after graduating from journalism school.  No such luck.   “You see, artists have been employing the visual illusion since the fifteenth century, when Renaissance painters invented techniques to trick your brain into thinking that a flat canvas is three-dimensional, or that a series of brushstrokes in a still life is a bowl of luscious fruit.  It’s not—we all know it’s oil on canvas.”

           The crowd stirred, shifting their backpacks and hips, a mass of smelly bodies bathed in bad clothes and body odor.  Nolan nestled his pad of paper in his palm and feigned interest.  

            The Art professor began again, “Renaissance painters realized they could manipulate atmospheric effects by making tones weaken and colors pale as they recede from view.  They used shading, occlusion, and vanishing points to make their paintings…hyperrealistic.” 

          Nolan stifled a yawn and cracked his knuckles. 

          “Now, let’s fast-forward to 17th century Netherlands.  The Dutch developed a style of painting the French referred to as Trompe l’oeil.  That means, “trick the eye.”  These life-like paintings seem to jump from the frame.” The professor jumped a foot or so off the ground to illustrate his point. 

           Nolan Baxter clenched his jaw.  The professor side-stepped to a piece of art hanging on the creamy white walls.  “For example, if you’ll look at The Attributes of the Painter by Gysbrechts, you’ll see just that.” 

         Several overweight women huddled to the painting on the wall.  Sure enough, what appeared on the completed art was a three-dimensional depiction of the supplies of a painter.  A wooden frame with a darkened piece of canvas rolling off at the corner, paint brushes, and a pallet seemed to dangle from a painted-on nail.”

Fiction Friday:

By Leslie Lindsay Misc Feb-March 2013 013

Back to that novel of mine.  Revisions are still underway,  thought you’d like to see what I am up to with Slippery Slope.  [remember, this is original fiction.  Your ideas for improvement are greatly appreciated] 

“I storm out of Steve’s driveway, backing the Odyssey out while punching in Joe’s number.  He picks up on the first ring. 

        “Hi, sweetie.  How are things going?  Make it to Pat Cooper’s office?”

        “Pat?  Who?” I narrow my eyes.  
        “You know.  The message.  This morning.  Mystery shopper.” 

         “Oh…yeah,” I feign recognition.  “Just leaving his office now.”  I look to the homes lining the streets, big and new.  Not Pat Cooper’s office.  “Listen, I need to pop in to Target for a minute.  Madi needs some Pull-Ups.” 

          “Okay.  Don’t worry about us.  We’re heading to the hardware store after we finish at the park.  Love ya, hon!” 

          “Joe, you have no idea how much I love you.”  I say and I mean it. 

          I hear a smile on the end of the phone, “I think I do.”


       Pat Cooper’s office is located in an old Victorian in downtown Waubonsee, across from the train tracks and not too far from this new restaurant, Cress Creek Bistro.  I’ll have to talk to Joe about going there sometime. 

        I park and walk onto the porch.  Hanging baskets display colorful pansies and foliage, a spray of spring flowers hangs from the door in a tin bucket. Did I do that?  I shuffle my feet on the floor mat, the wrap-around porch pristine and orderly.  I know he’s here.  Pat lives in the upstairs apartment.  I ring the doorbell and wait. 

       Pat opens the door slowly, a precaution being a Saturday and then sticks his head out.  “Annie!” 

       I nod and tip my shoulders.  “Pat, hi.  I got your message.  We were out last night.” 

       “Yes, yes.  I spoke with your babysitter.  Come on in.”  He steps aside and allows me to enter.  Such the gentleman.   

       He ushers me to a small alcove to the right.  A majestic Victorian desk takes up the space, a stained glass window behind him.  He points to a chair, “Sit, please.” 

        I do, crossing my legs.  My flats don’t compare to anything Jackie would wear.  He pulls a slim portfolio from a drawer and slides it across the desk.  “Here’s your report from the other day, Annie.  And your check.” 

       I nod. 

       Pat Cooper leans back in his chair, “Annie, you do good work.  Your reports are always carefully done, great attention to detail.  You really have an eye for decorating.” 

       If you only knew, Pat Cooper.  I think of what Jackie said just hours ago.  Gifted with art.  Psychotic depression.  A break.  I spread my lips into a tight smile. 

       “We read your report to the president of the company.  He loved it,” and then he looks down at his desk, fiddling with a paperweight.  “But, we didn’t show them your video.” 

        “Oh,” I say.  “You didn’t need it.” 

        “More like didn’t want it.” 

        “I don’t understand,” I re-cross my legs and lean forward. 

         “Annie, I am not sure who you were with that day, but your commentary was completely inappropriate.” 

         “I’m sorry?”

          “It was—oh, how do I say this,” he steeples his hands in front of his face.  “The audio picked up a lot of personal discussion.” 

          “Really,” I shake my head.  “I wonder if there was some interference with the audio equipment?” 

           He pushes himself away from the desk.  “I’d show it to you, but I think it would embarrass you.” 

          I think I know what’s happened, but I don’t want to offer any explanation.  I just play dumb.  “Can I make it up to you somehow?”

         “No, I don’t think that will be necessary.  You aren’t who I thought you were, that’s all,” he shakes his head. 

        “I see.” I consider explaining myself, but since I am unaware of what that audio tape holds, I keep mum. 

        “You’ll be happy to know we fired the Tricia Peterson, the saleswoman at Grande Pointe Lake.  She should have gone with you into the models, she shouldn’t have put any bias on you about what model she likes best, and well, there were a lot of other things, too.  You did your job.  And that’s all we can really ask.  But Annie, I am this is the last time you will be doing a mystery shop for us.” 

       The words attack my gut, a blow to my confidence.  M Y S T E R Y.  Last time.  My mouth goes dry. 

         Pat Cooper continues, “I operate a wholesome business here, even though it seems somewhat deceptive.  I need good people.  You’re good—you know design, you’re professional—most of the time.  This time, you screwed up, bringing a boyfriend along.” 

        I close my eyes and lean back in the chair.  I shake my head, “It’s been a rough time lately.  I could explain, but you’d have a hard time believing me,” I reach for my check.  “Thank you, Pat.  It’s been nice working with you.” 

        He stands and walks me to the door.  He reaches forward and pats me on the back.  “You’re good people, Annie.  I won’t hold this against you.” 

       The door clicks behind me.

Fiction Friday: After-Effects

By Leslie Lindsay

Fiction Friday:

Slippery When Wet.  This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress.  Woman has just done the deed with her first boyfriend…oh, but it’s many years later and she’s married to someone else.  So is he.  [original fiction.  Reproduction or sharing, or passing off as your own is strictly prohibited]

“On January 3rd—about 11 days ago—I pulled into the garage.  The clock on the Sienna’s dash read 1:47a.m. 

         I smelled of Steve.  I inhaled deeply, the scent wafting through my nose, piercing my olfactory bulb and traveling through to my limbic system; the most primitative area of the human brain.  Our bodies are particularly adept at recalling these memories of smell.  But I worried someone else—Joe—would notice and not like it.  It was probably nothing.  My senses particularly heightened, my body in tune with Steve’s pheromones.

         I relished in the thought.

         In my mind, the clock turned back years; instead of walking back into my own house in Grove, IL where I was the parent—the wife—it was my childhood home following a date with Steve.  The motion detecting porch lights, tip-toeing and knowing exactly where the creaky floorboards were located.    

       Tonight was very much the same.  I swallowed.  I was past curfew. 

       Only the moon lit our bedroom, casting shadows on Joe’s sleeping form.  That sour, sleep smell filled the air.  I stripped down to my underwear and slipped into bed next to my husband, my body rigid, a shell of guilt weaving a web of lies. 

       “Women who have affairs often have a plan.  They don’t usually get caught [having an affair].  They can pass it off as a business meeting or luncheon, especially if she works outside of the home.  They don’t blatantly lie about an affair; they just don’t admit it; her lies are those of omission.”  

        My mind knew what that book said.  It was hidden in my nightstand.  Like osmosis pressing its knowledge into my brain. 

        I pulled my legs to my chest into a fetal position, soft, hot tears rolled down my cheek.  Joe rolled over, threw his arm around my shoulder.  “You’re home,” he mumbled. 

          “Yeah,” I said through a sniffle. 

          “Where’d you go?” 

          I cringe because Joe’s sleep breath is bad, and also because I can’t think of anything else to say. “Nowhere.”  

           “To Nikki’s?” 


           Joe is quiet for a moment.  We both know it’s a lie. 

           “Hon, I was thinking…I’ve really been a jerk lately.  I am sorry.”  He kissed my shoulder. 

           A hot tear ran down my cheek, a streaked mask; a façade.  “It’s okay,” I whisper.  And it is.

          As I had for the last few months, I fell asleep that night with my head full of Steve.  Full of longing and fear and memories.  Full of possibilities and ramifications.  What would happen to the girls if Joe found out?  What about Steve’s wife?  Our marriages? 

         With or without Steve I wondered if my marriage would survive.  Were Joe and I really meant for each other?  Was Joe ever going to stop being such a workaholic?   

         Like tumbleweeds in the desert on a windy day, the questions wouldn’t rest.  Soon, my body let go and I fell asleep.”

         And dreamed of Steve.