Tag Archives: Slippery Slope

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: After-Effects

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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?” 

           “Yeah…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. 

Fiction Friday: Breaking & Entering

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By Leslie Lindsay

Here we are at edge of Slippery Slope.  Our female protagonist is breaking into her first love’s home with his wife.  Oh…don’t do it!!  [original fiction.  Copying or reproducing is strictly prohibited]. Fiction Friday:

    “Steve?” I call out, my voice timid, unsure. 

       No answer. 

      “Hello?  Anyone home?”  The lights are on, the television blares, the puppy…he’s got to be here. 

       Numbers bloat out of my Steve?” I call out timidly, my voice squeaking. head, like pop-ups on a computer screen.  An orange eight.  Sixteen.  An aqua-blue twenty-four dances in front of me.  His address. 

       I stiffen as I glance around the house, removing my gloves.  I should leave.  This is wrong.  I wipe my hands down my pants.  Wetness develops under my arms.  I breathe out and try again, “Steve?  Are you here?   It’s me…Annie.” 

       The puppy barks.  A sharp squeak.   He leads me to the stairs.  I twist my head to the dining room as I pass by, noting the color on the wall.  Buttered yellow.  I like it, looks good with the dark furnishings.   A grouping of photos of Steve and Beth.  Sepia-tone, like they happened a long time ago.  Steve and Beth look good.  Happy.  I cringe.  But maybe it’s all fake. 

        You never know where they’re at in their marriage.  Jackie’s knowing voice.  Tsk, tsk.  But I don’t care. 

        At the base of the stairs leading to the second floor, I hear the sound of running water.  A shower?  The puppy barks again, ushering me up the stairs.  It’s a comical thing to watch this puppy climb the stairs, his body not quite in time with his movements.  I giggle, partly out of nervousness and partly because it’s so darn cute. I kick off my slippers before stepping foot on the cream colored carpet, out of habit, but wondering, too if Beth would notice additional footsteps on her carpeting.  The puppy pauses, panting, beckoning me to follow. 

       “Hello?”  My voice echoes, tinny and faint.  I shrug out of my coat, red and thick, leaving heaped on the floor, like a puddle of blood. 

       The smooth wood and wrought iron banister feels cool to the touch under my hand.  I pause, looking down from the open stairwell, taking in the space.  What do two people do in a house this big?  I can see why Beth wants a baby.

       I hear the shower stop.  My blood freezes. 

       The puppy falls into a heap at the top of the stairs, worn from the jaunt.  His paws lie flat out in front.  He looks to me with curiosity, wriggling his brows, body unmoving, panting pride of effort.  I know the feeling; a victory.

       Mommy!  What are you doing?   Don’t bother me now, mommy’s busy.  I should go. 

       I tip-toe back towards the stairs, yet something pulls me closer to the slightly closed door, which I can only imagine is Steve and Beth’s bedroom. 

       I glance in, spreading my fingers across my breastbone.  My scalp tingles, I look away.  Steve is toweling off his hair.  Naked.  A lightening bolt across my field of vision. 

        Exposed.

        I should leave.  My mouth fills with cotton.  My body goes rigid, a small yelp erupts.  Mine, not the puppy’s. 

        The curve of his shoulders, his muscular back.   I can’t help myself.  Where did those muscles come from?  Quickly, I turn, cover my mouth and pretend I haven’t seen anything.  I’ve seen a naked Steve before.  I pull my arms close to my body; a thin-veiled attempt, as if protecting Steve from vulnerability. 

        “Steve?” I attempt again, my voice resonating meekly, regretfully.  “It’s Annie.”   

        The hush of the house encompasses me.  My throat is clogged.  I clear my voice, an effort to elicit a response. 

        “Annie?!”  his voice hoarse, yet slightly higher-pitched.  “Is that you?” Louder, closer “What are you doing here?”  His tone curious yet startled as he makes his way to the bedroom door.

Fiction Friday: Chasing After Illusions

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here we are back in Leslie’s novel, Slippery Slope.  Annie (female protagonist) is at the gym chasing after illusions.  Remember, this is an original work of fiction.  Please feel free to offer comments, feedback, etc. but don’t take as your own work.  Thanks–and enjoy!

      I am back at the gym.  The dreaded treadmill; an artificial run.  The mechanics of the machine lifting itself up, clanging and cranking.  Feigning a hill.  

      Hot, rubbery legs. 

       Steve’s legs, long and lean reaching for my foot.  The other day.  Lunch.

       I press the speed button several times—5.3 MPH.  A good, healthy jog.  My heart is pounding, but not because of the run. I didn’t sleep well last night.      

     Joe’s breath on the back of my neck. 

     See a therapist.  You’re not yourself.

      Steve’s cocky grin. 

      I tossed and turned.  Thinking.  Dreaming. 

      Come back to me.

      So much pent-up energy inside of my body. 

      I close my eyes briefly, my legs pounding the black rubber strip. Madi’s bottom-lip popped out appears in my mind.  She’s sitting on Mrs. Stover’s lap—the headmistress at Hollybrook Academy.  She’s not crying, but she looks worried. 

       Where’s my mommy?

        I crank the speed up higher.  My legs taking me nowhere, yet running me in circles. 

         Madi’s eyes brighten when she sees me.  She scrambles out of Mrs. Stover’s lap and into my arms. 

        I press the buttons on the machine, increasing my pace.  5.9 MPH. Joe’s height. 

       I’m so sorry, Joe.  I’m sorry, Madi.  It won’t happen again, I promise. 

      Mentally apologizing won’t work.  My body needs more.  The thoughts won’t go away.  I crank the speed to 6.1 MPH.

       The digits attack my consciousness, coming at me like a giant Pac-Man, gobbling away dots in a maze.  

        I called your husband, you know.  Flake, unorganized mother, watch out for that one.

        I punch the arrow on the treadmill again.  6.3 MPH.

        Steve. 

        My legs struggle to keep up.  My breath coming in puffs.  A metallic taste fills my mouth.  I reach for my water bottle.

        Can I take it here?  Can I do this?  Sweat rolls down my forehead, my back. 

        My cleavage.   

        It goes on like this for twenty-six minutes.

        Running after illusions. 

Write On, Wednesday: Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You’re Having an Affair

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By Leslie Lindsay

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Last evening, I took my writing to the library critique group.  I have been going and sharing my work with this bunch of writers for about two years now.  I know most of the folks pretty well, even though it’s not an inclusive group–it’s constantly changing, as all good groups do.

These writers are very familiar with the current story–well, novel–I am working on.  It’s title, “Slippery Slope.”  It wasn’t really intended to turn into a novel.  Heck, I never saw myself as a novelist…it sounds so fancy and grown-up.  But I knew I wanted to write. 

There is a point of all of this:  I got some good feedback.  I got some ideas for revision.  I got some new thoughts, too.  Thank you, fellow writers.  But here is one thing I wasn’t expecting to hear:  “Oh my!  It sounds like you are really having an affair!” 

Helllooo!!  My character is.  Emphasis on character. It’s an emotional affair at this point, but I think that still counts, huh?  (and no, I am not having an affair…I am too busy and too dorky.  The opposite sex stopped looking years ago). 

On the otherhand, I am very pleased that my writing was convincing enough to make this woman feel as though I was really having an affair.  (That’s good writing, if I do say so myself).  And any writer should be able to create a world which is believable to readers.  It seems as though I have succeeded in that front.

Here are a few more ideas for world-building–which is really a term that came into vogue in the 1960’s-1970’s for the sci-fi realm.  But there is world-building in all books, whether they take place in Scilon-ville or Suburbia.  Mine is right smack in the heart of the ‘burbs.  I know this world well and perhaps that’s why I am so good at describing it?  Alas, I really know nothing about infidelity, but well…

Some thoughts from my time at Write by the Lake in Madison this past June from Kathy Steffen on Worldbuilding:

  • Gives readers a sense of place (grounding)
  • Every great book has worldbuilding and is evidenced in what people say/how they say it, what they wear, how they navigate the world around them…weave it into your story, don’t just dump it on the reader. 
  • Make it interesting and exciting, keep it active
  • Words and descriptions should stem from the feeling you want readers to experience (could tie in with your theme)…e.g.  “gritty.” 
  • Make it matter.  Should help develop meaning and motivation, reveal insights, show the world through the protagonist’s POV
  • Make it real.  Don’t assume anything.  Build that world till is is real to you.  Get lost in the description by using all of your senses.  Close your eyes and envision the world. 
  • All worlds need shades of gray.  Your character can think in terms of opposites, but you–the writer–cannot.  Let your reader fill in the blanks.

Go!  Write on, Wednesday!