Fiction Excercise: Pick an object you’ve encountered today and write a piece of short fiction that includes that object.

What Liz wrote:

Dry-mouth, her neck in a knot, she kicked her foot a little to the right to check. Was he still there? Shit. He was.

She stretched her arms and legs out wide, rolled over and pulled him toward her until she was cradling him against her belly. She pressed her breasts against his back and nibbled his ear. When she was sure he was awake, she rolled him over, climbing on to him.

Two hours later, the Zen alarm clock began it’s slow chiming them back to consciousness. They’d both fallen back to sleep. They’d both orgasmed. This time when she rolled over, he was already on the edge of the bed, sliding his leg into his worn out jeans.

“You going so soon?” She didn’t mean it.

“Yeah. I’ve got an interview today. Need to go get cleaned up. It’ll probably be nothing.”

“Well, good luck. Who does interviews on a Saturday anyway?” She hadn’t meant to ask out loud. She was just making conversation.

“Not everyone works an easy Monday through Friday, nine to five, you know.” He was buckling his belt.

She tried to remember what he’d said the carving on his belt buckle signified. Something about willing his own destiny. The contradiction had occurred to her at the time, but sitting in the pulsing light of the dance club, she’d chosen to hold it back. It didn’t matter anyway. She knew what he’d meant. She’d taken another drink of her gin and tonic, said, “That’s cool. Means something. I respect that.” Then he’d looked at her like he wanted to devour her and she imagined undoing that buckle, sliding the leather belt through the belt loops of his jeans, dropping the belt to the floor. In that way, she supposed, she had willed her own destiny. She’d wanted to be devoured.

Now, having kissed him at the door, each pair of eyes running from the other, she pulled the pot of fresh coffee, brewed at just the time the machine’s computer was programmed to, off the burner. She filled a periwinkle blue mug. She read the inscription, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became the butterfly.”

She remembered the day she bought it and why. She couldn’t will herself to face her two teenage girls just yet, not after all those hours spent waiting on a hard wood bench to be the last couple of the morning to ask the judge to please allow a divorce, to provide evidence that they’d signed all the forms, completed the necessary parenting plan.

She’d felt like an empty shoebox sitting there staring at the back of her husband’s head, watching the way his arm draped over Becky’s shoulders. She knew just the one. The one at the top of her closet filled with love letters and their secret photos. Nothing had been added to it for years. It may as well be empty now. Becky was just a friend, a colleague, a damn good broker. That’s what he’d said.

It was raining. The girls were at their father’s for the weekend. She stirred the creamer around and around with her spoon until the coffee was just the right shade of light brown. She’d have left him years ago if she’d had the nerve. But she hadn’t and so she’d gotten left.

She remembered now that she’d also bought a book that day. A hard-bound book of poetry on transformation from a series she’d read some others from and liked a lot. One collection of love. One on Joy.

When she’d arrived home from the bookstore, she’d placed it on the shelf immediately. It was dinner time, she had thought. I have to keep some semblance of order around here. For the girls.

She pulled it off the shelf now, six weeks after purchasing it, for the first time. She opened it delicately, feeling the spine bend and change in her hands. She pulled the afghan her mother had made her for her sixteenth birthday, blues, purples and greens, from the top of the hall closet and wrapped it around her. She settled onto the couch, propped her feet onto the teak ottoman, and began to read one poem after the next.

When the ring of the telephone woke her three hours later, she was on page thirty-seven.


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