Tag Archives: novel

PREORDER NOW – Unkept, a novel by Ericka Clay

Hi, friends! I wanted to pass along an epic opportunity for those of you who own a Kindle. My friend and fellow booze lover Ericka Clay has a novel coming out! Preorder your Kindle copy of Unkept now, and it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle on March 2nd.

Via www.erickaclay.com:

Ericka Clay is a published novelist represented by Robyn Russell and the author of Unkept.

She’s also a major foodie, yoga newbie, overall health nut and the founding editor of Tipsy Lit.”

Book description, via www.amazon.com:

“As the live-in manager at her father’s funeral home in Burling Gates, Missouri, Vienna Oaks has succumbed to the mediocrity and abject loneliness of her life.  Her days are suspended between the mundane and the misery of her clients’ throttling grief, of changing light bulbs, and encountering strangers as bereft as she. But after orchestrating the funeral for a little boy named Parker prompts a severe panic attack, she finds herself at a personal crossroads in which she is forced to confront the pregnancy she’s been hiding, her childhood nemesis, the boy she never stopped loving, and the deep-seated secret surrounding her mother’s death more than a decade before.

In another part of town, Heather Turnbull has just learned from her estranged father that her mother, a lifelong recluse, has died.  When making arrangements for her funeral, Heather chooses Oaks Family Funeral home, where she comes face to face with Vienna – the woman she tortured throughout grade school, the woman who has recently had an affair with her husband.

Together, Vienna and Heather navigate through a makeshift friendship born of circumstance and devised to assuage their ambivalence towards motherhood and their tenuous relationship with reality, discovering, in tandem, the art of forgiveness and the will to go on.

With humor and poignancy, Ericka Clay’s debut novel, Unkept, explores the thorny landscape of childhood trauma and the ferocious politics between little girls — and the adults they become.”

Click here to order your Kindle version of Unkept today!

xo,

Nicole Marie

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Big Decisions

odee_and_craziness___250_by_odeequack-d4jckmt

 

The holidays are over! We survived. I suppose that’s kind of a crappy way to look at it, isn’t it? We all hold our breath those weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, praying things go smoothly when the family is here, digging through the leftover last-minute wrapping paper at Super Walmart, scraping our last two pennies together because we couldn’t give that cousin a lousy $20 gift card, it had to be $40, because $20 is cheap and disgraceful, and you won’t see them again until that obscure family BBQ in August.

But hey, secretly we know there’s more to it than spending a bunch of money we don’t have. And while we are all breathing a sigh of relief this week, I had a wonderful holiday with some wonderful people I cherish.

And now Joe and I get to relax, and really enjoy our new home, together. No presents to buy. Nothing to rush to the store for (besides groceries and cleaning products). I gave the entire house a scrub down yesterday and plopped my ass on the couch for dinner and a movie afterward, my best friend and my kitty cat lounging beside me.

By the way, meet Jewel. She’s 9, and Joe and I inherited her from my best friend’s aunt, who really wanted her to go to a loving home since her daughter went away to school. Jewel enjoys begging like a dog, throwing up on our new area rug, and drinking out of faucets. I love her to death.

jewel

In two weeks time Joe and I will also be welcoming another addition to the family, a 2 year old Beagle/Hound mix named Nevada. She is the sweetest little doggie and I’m praying Jewel isn’t too pissed off about it. (A few more piles of puke on my area rug should suffice. She always seems to bypass the hardwood floor and aim directly for the rug. I think this is a conscious decision.)

While I don’t really believe in making New Years Resolutions, I did make a pretty huge decision for the New Year. Sort of a birthday present to myself (as this will happen just 3 weeks before my 25th), an accomplishment I will hold near and dear to me for a lifetime, one this lady has already achieved and given me some seriously crazy inspiration. (Seriously, that is a must-read. It brought tears to my eyes.)

My friends, this Monday I begin training for my first marathon.

Marathon.

Mar-uh-thon.

26.2 miles.

::gulp::

I’m terrified. I’m excited. I’m confident. I’m a mess. Can I really do this? did finish a half.  Maybe I can do this. No, I WILL do this. Even if my body falls to pieces and I’m dragging my sorry ass across the finish line.

And so to document my adventures, I’ll be keeping a side blog, which I will link on this one. When I make it. At some point before/on Monday. I’m going to need tons of motivation for this one. Thank you in advance.

Another sort-of-sort-of-not resolution is getting back to some personal writing. Like, novel writing. I’ve slacked off many a time, but I have to pick myself back up and get back in there. I mean, moving into a brand new home one day before Thanksgiving counts as a solid distraction, amIright?

Happy Friday, everyone. Don’t forget to stop on over and enjoy the Foolishness!

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Gritty City

 

All of this house stress has been ripping me away from my creative side…so this morning I resumed some novel work. I know I just post little clips here and there, but it’s mainly to ask for advice on snippets, rather than the whole thing. Since I am hoping to query this baby to a certain lady very soon, I’m avoiding posting it in its entirety on my blog. Regardless, here is a little ditty I wrote today; and a quick explanation.

My protagonist, Angel, and her sort-of-boyfriend-thing Jay, have gone into a part of the city unfamiliar to Angel, in search of Sarah’s (that’s Angel’s sister) jerk of a boyfriend-thing. Jay was a little nervous about taking Angel here (even though she has shown she can hold her own, as a stripper and just an all around bad-ass), and Angel even finds herself feeling a bit uneasy.

Thoughts?

It sucks? Forget it? Delete it forever? It has potential?

Happy Friday, friends. Getting tatted (again) tonight. Woo-hoo!

 

Jay squeezed my hand inside the cab. I looked over at him in the panels of light that streamed in from the street lamps, half smiling, not trying to cover the look of confusion I felt forming above my eyebrows. In the half dark I noticed the adrenaline coursing through me, and I tried to focus on finding Danny. After several minutes I peered outside, not realizing how different the scenery had become. The Christmas lights had faded into tiny speckles that appeared once every few houses. Evening shoppers were replaced with strangers bundled up in dirty jackets, spotted along street corners. There was an uneasy quiet about the place, and I realized I’d never been through this pocket of the neighborhood. I felt Jay’s hold on me tighten. Suddenly, I was worried too.

The cab stopped at a corner where the street sign was too covered in graffiti to make out the words. An old deli faced us, the closed sign still swinging in the window. The driver craned his neck toward us. “This is as far as I go.” Jay nodded and pulled some cash from his pocket. I looked over, really concerned now. He got out first, making his way to my side and offering a hand as he opened my door. I took it and he lifted me into the street.

The sour scent of trash hit me first; I hadn’t been able to smell it through the closed windows. I grew even more uneasy, suddenly thrust into the middle of this place I’d watched through a locked door minutes before. “This way.” I felt his hand pulling me again. My eyes ran over every part of my environment, taking in papered windows and empty syringes strewn on the sidewalk. “Watch your step, Angel.” It all made the jaded Southside look like Beverly Hills.

I tried to concentrate, to soak in our path if I found myself having to retrace my steps. “What is this place? Can’t believe I’ve never been here. It’s not so far from Southside….but it’s definitely different.”

“You’d never have any reason to come here.”

It warmed me, Jay’s high opinion of me. It stung, too, knowing what he didn’t know about me. I thought for a minute. “But clearly you would.” He turned, a look of indifference across his face.

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“It is astounding, how many selves we have.”

So last week, I attended the Philadelphia Stories dinner celebrating our 2012 winner of the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction! Winning author Adam Schwartz gave an amazing speech that brought quite a few of us to tears. He was so humble, so overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion. Now that is the ultimate rewarding experience for a writer. He talked of how we work our behinds off in solitude, maybe showing our work to a family member or a friend. But for a group of strangers to recognize your work, celebrate it, and throw a dinner in your honor where we hand you a fat check and talk about how great you are for 3 hours?

Yeah, I can only hope I’m in his shoes some day. The choked up part came when he tried to do something as simple as thank his wife for all of those hours he was allowed to “go off and tinker with his story”. He paused for quite a while, gathering himself, and when he started again he wondered out loud why he couldn’t get out a few simple words. The best part was during his moment of silence, when his wife – who was seated somewhere in front of Joe and I – leaned over to a friend and whispered, “this happened at the wedding too”. About 30 seconds later, when Adam started again, he said “this happened at the wedding too”. That’s when I got all teary eyed. The next morning at Push to Publish (where I had the pleasure of spending most of the day talking with Adam about our writing, our jobs, etc.), we agreed it must have been the idea of sharing such a personal emotion with a crowd of people. That was it.

Now seriously, click here to read Adam’s kick-ass short story, “The Rest of the World”.  What a wonderful guy, and (obviously) an extremely talented writer.

Push To Publish 

As I said I’d be doing in my previous post, I whipped out my little pink notebook and spent a lot of time scrawling things down all Saturday afternoon. After bagels and coffee, we gathered into the auditorium on the always beautiful Rosemont College campus (I really suggest looking at pictures of this place, it’s like a mini Hogwarts), to hear keynote speaker (and this year’s final judge to choose Adam’s story) Kevin McIlvoy get us all revved up for the day with an opening speech. I scribbled furiously while this man talked about things I never even imagined. For 30 years he has studied language, recording the voices of men and women 70+ and obsessing over each recording, considering how “several streams pour into each other to make the voice that has developed over the course of a long life”. Kevin said “an old voice has more moments of emptiness that are full”. He made my brain hurt in the best way ever. While I always thought I paid close attention to the way each of my characters speak, McIlvoy pulled me up to a whole other level of thought as a writer of dialogue.

Kevin continued into something I understood immediately: “It’s astounding, how many selves we have. Writing exposes our most secret selves.” As writers, we’re all a little Bipolar, a little Schizophrenic, aren’t we? Morbid, romantic, hilarious, thoughtful. There’s things we can write down or type out that we would never allow out into the world in any other way. It’s a therapeutic release of sorts.

Things got weird again (but in a crazy genius sort of way) when McIlvoy started with the bird calls, and even invited us to join in. But, it served its purpose. He compared the call and song of the Common Yellowthroat to the way a person does something called “think-sounding” (following the sound of one’s thought to the next thought). He spoke of “rhythmic syn-crony” and all sorts of other things that sounded lovely, even if I had to give them a little extra thought. This man certainly has an iron grip on language and voice.

Kevin ended his speech with something every one of us understood as we nodded our heads in agreement: “We are engaged in writing as an act of faith….It takes stamina and courage…We are here because we are believers…[The] artist life is questionable as a career…Be attentive to all [writing] offers you. It will bring more of you to the world.” 

I bought this. Go buy this.

Then came the speed dates. That agent I met with last year that I was hoping to meet with again this year? Yeah, writers tore through her signup sheet like wildfire. So I sadly signed my name under the open times of a few others I was hoping to meet with, and decided I’d have to awkwardly corner her somewhere on campus before the day’s end. But on a positive note, I think my speed dates were all a roaring success! I shoved my Honorable Mention-winning short story, “Sirens Underwater” into the faces of three published writers. Alison Hicks gave me a few very nice compliments, and told me if Glimmer Train gave it a thumbs up, then it has a home somewhere. She then rattled off about ten literary journals I could try, and I struggled to write them all down before my hand cramped up. I thanked her, and moved on to a very nice chick from Apiary, and finally the bad-ass and wonderful Aimee LaBrie, who ran the 8-week writing course I took last winter. We talked, mostly about my story and a little about life in general. She scrawled several helpful notes and comments and question marks on the edges of every paper and I had to be kicked out so the next writer could meet with her.

Then there was lunch. Then workshops about selling genre fiction, the pros and cons of e-publishing, and a Q&A with agents and editors. And somewhere in there, I was able to corner agent lady without too much awkwardness, and she handed me a fresh business card and told me to query her. Score! 

Watch this and you can totally see my head at 0:30 as Aimee pours over my story (with agent lady in the background!).

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s rainy here in Jersey and I tripped up the stairs this morning.

P.S.

Remember that cute little house Joe and I looked at?

Guess who isn’t a property virgin anymore?! Soon, I will write to you via my own bad-ass writing hideaway.

Oh, and this one’s for Le Clown:

Guess who wore her shiny boots?

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Push to Publish Part II

Last year’s Push to Publish conference was a roaring success, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to attend again this year! Tonight, I will once again be on the beautiful campus of Rosemont College for the Philadelphia Stories awards dinner, where the 2012 winning author will be presented with a big fat check and plenty of food! Hooray!

Then tomorrow I’ll put on my cutest outfit and my shiny new boots and hopefully make another good impression on the agent who showed interest in my novel last year. The first draft isn’t too far from the finish line this time around, so I can only hope I can once again spark her interest. Fingers crossed, friends!

I’ll be sure to post here tomorrow night, with all of the useful information I plan on picking up and scribbling down in my pink notebook.

On a side note: I ran 7 miles in 1 hour, 5 minutes yesterday evening! My best time yet. It’s time to put that same effort into my writing. Lots of last minute ends to tie!

Happy Friday!

 

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Don’t mess with my stuff.

Just a quick excerpt from the novel-in-progress. A flashback from the day Angel and Sarah’s father left home for good; no explanation, no goodbye. It was Angel’s birthday. He’d never given her a birthday card before, but there it was, hung up in a bright red envelope on the refrigerator. What would she want with it? Especially now? Angel threw it in the trash and went about her day. But sister Sarah couldn’t mind her own business.

[I know this is pulling right from the middle, so I’m not giving a clear idea of what has happened leading up to this; any feedback on the language itself and how the scene pans out is much appreciated. Thank you for reading. :)]

********

We didn’t discuss it. Once I had thrown the unopened card in with stained paper towels and coffee grinds, Sarah knew it was her cue to leave me alone. Hours later I padded to the kitchen for a drink, my eyes catching on the trashcan and pulling me to examine its contents. I leaned over top, at first only a spotted banana peel and a paper filter from the morning the only obvious pieces of trash; but then the red piece of envelope jumped out at me like a taunting piece of confetti and I immediately reached my hand inside, the dampness and darkness suddenly making no difference. My fingers sifted through odds and ends until more remnants of red revealed themselves. I opened my other palm and collected each piece I found. Several minutes had passed when I noticed how large the pile had become, a dozen tiny rips. I put my pile on the tiled counter and looked around; I knew Sarah must have done something similar with the envelope’s contents. They weren’t mixed with the pieces of envelope. A tinge of annoyance wrinkled my forehead. It was my birthday card and my decision to avoid it. Once something has been buried I never was one to dig it back up.

A quick scan let me know the rest of the kitchen had nothing else to offer. I scooped up the pieces and headed down the hall to Sarah’s room, my annoyance growing with each step. I stopped just outside of the door, one hand raised ready to knock when a piece fell from my hand and tapered down to the top of one foot. I shook it off, grabbed the handle and turned.

Sarah didn’t flinch as the door flew open, sending a gust of wind through one of her curls. She looked up from her bed, legs crossed, already dressed for the night in the red and white pinstriped pajamas I hated. I took a step forward and threw my confetti, each prize spinning downward to their landing place on individual parts of the sheet.

“What’s that?” She’d already bent her head back down towards the book in her lap.

“Don’t act stupid,” I growled. “Where is it?”

“Where’s what?” Her words were firm, but avoiding my gaze was the only way Sarah was ever able to catch a glimpse of backbone.

I leaned toward her and snatched the book away.

“Hey! I was reading that!”

“Cut it out. What the hell did you do with my birthday card? If I didn’t want to read it, that was my choice. I threw it in the trash and you had no right to go rummaging around for it. Now hand it over.”

I tossed the book on the floor and caught a glimpse of the cover, a muscular, tanned man with a beautiful woman draped in his arms, wrapped in some sort of silk sheet that just slightly revealed one breast.

She sighed and lifted herself from the mattress, moving to the nightstand, still avoiding my narrowed eyes. I watched as she opened the top drawer and shuffled some things around. A moment later she pulled out a handful of glossy ripped paper, mirror images to the red ones I’d found in the kitchen. She held out her hand and finally looked at me, her eyes glazed, shoulders scrunched to either side of her neck, like a guilty child waiting to have their hand slapped. I rolled my own eyes and grabbed the pieces away from her.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “I guess I was curious. Especially since dad has never given us any cards before. It’s not what you think, Angel.”

I placed the puzzle on her dresser and slid the parts around until they began to form a picture; the word “Condolences” slowly came into view, frayed and wrinkled, staring up at me in a silent, pathetic apology. I felt my sister’s stare from the other side of the room.

“I guess it makes sense,” I said, unwavering. “We suffered a loss, didn’t we? Probably the most clever thing he’s ever done.” I swept it all into the trash and stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind me.

 

 

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Season of the Writer

That special time of year is again creeping up on us; the vibrant colors, the crisp weather, the delicious warm foods, the pumpkin-flavored-and-scented everything that I so adore. (I also adore the fact that in autumn I can wear my favorite boots every single day until the soles fall off.) It’s my favorite time for inspiration in my writing, and it’s the time for writing conferences!!!

Again this year, as I did last October, I will be attending Push to Publish, a one day writing conference run by Philadelphia Stories, the non-profit magazine I’ve been working for the last three years. Last year I met so many wonderful people, and went home with plenty of inspirational feedback from editors, agents, and fellow writers.

Last year was also when I met the agent who read the first three chapters of my novel and was immediately interested….a huge uplift to my writer’s ego, but something that also made me nervous and excited and anxious all at once. She’d handed me her card and told me she wanted to take a first look as soon as I was finished my first draft.

A year ago. I suck.

Obviously things went on the back-burner, even after I proudly tacked her business card above my mirror as a reminder to stay inspired and write, write, write. It’s not like I was completely lazy in the meantime. I’ve worked on a few short stories – one of which recently received an Honorable Mention – and have returned here and there to that novel that has started to harvest some cobwebs.

But, with Push to Publish quickly approaching, I’ve pulled it back out, dusted it off, and made it a promise: You will be finished, however roughly, by October 13th. That same agent is going to be there and I refuse to show my face without a nice, heavy first draft in my arms. With hard work, it’s doable. So, for now, the short stories have been switched to the back-burner.

Lots to get done today; previews begging for feedback to come.

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The Old “Bray” VS. “Brag” Thing

Oh, Sylvia.

Part of me likes to think she herself purposely created the controversy, so after her death she could send us all into a literary downward spiral, our fingers growing tired from online debates in forums, snatching up every copy of The Bell Jar each of us could find only to turn to that last page and know, once and for all, which word it is.

Well played, Ms. Plath, well played.

So yesterday I got some new ink, of that popular quote that constantly has everyone up in arms. And, like for so many others, it means something very special to me. But I didn’t just open up my copy of The Bell Jar and point; I did do some research online, exploring both sides of the controversy before I had the words branded on me for all eternity.

And this is what I took away from my browsing:

No one knows for sure, except Plath herself.

– If you search “brag”, Google tries to tell you you’re dumb:

Showing results for i listened to the old bray of my heart (Surely that’s what you actually meant to say.)

Good Reads agrees with “brag”:

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

– Some people here aren’t sure either way:

http://lovingsylvia.tumblr.com/post/1209727081/loving-sylvia-plath

– And Peter Steinberg seems pretty damn sure it’s “brag”:

http://sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com/2010/07/internet.html

Of course this post is stemming from my annoyance by someone who told me to “do my research” because I am so obviously wrong, but instead of responding with “no moron, I’m right”, I’ll say to each, his own.

I like to think the correct quote is brag; but what if it is bray? Both words make sense.

bray

1    [brey]

noun

1.

the loud, harsh cry of a donkey.
2.

any similar loud, harsh sound.
Her heart very well could be making a loud, harsh sound; a bray. It’s making its presence known; it’s crying out.

brag

[brag]

1.

to use boastful language; boast: He bragged endlessly about his high score.
verb (used with object)

2.
to boast of: He bragged that he had won.
This makes sense, too; her heart is boastful, which it has every right to be. After all, it’s what’s keeping her alive. That “I am, I am, I am” is the chanting of her heart’s bragging rights.
In my opinion, “brag” also seems to make more sense in the context of the book; reaching the end of things, an epiphany maybe, after Joan’s funeral, that maybe not all is lost for Esther? It seems that the death of one of her best friends reminded her of how very alive she still is.
“There would be a black, six-foot deep gap hacked in the hard ground. That shadow would marry this shadow, and the peculiar, yellowish soil of our locality seal the wound in the whiteness, and yet another snowfall erase the traces of newness in Joan’s grave.
I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart.
I am, I am, I am.”
And so, for me, the “brag” of my heart means something very special. It’s a constant reminder of how precious life is, even when there is no light. All I have to do it lay a hand across my chest and give a silent “thank you” to that ever boastful part of myself.
(And while hundreds of others are branded by the same words, it means just as much to them as it does to me, “brag” or “bray”.)
So there it is. Which version do you prefer?
Happy Thursday!

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Love, Literature, & Froyo

I’ll admit, I’m ashamed about my lack of posting here lately. Screwing my head back on straight has occupied my time for quite a while. But, here I am. 🙂

So before I get back into specific posting, here’s a recap of the past few weeks, in no particular order, for those who care to know – and even those who don’t – of my doings away from the keyboard!

1. Skyrim has continued to take over my life (but I’ve gone from 5 hours of playing each day to about 2).

2. I also had a fling with “Draw Something”, but lost interested fairly quickly.

3. I’ve slowly caught the exercise “bug” again, and can barely move my limbs without wincing at the moment. A new gym: Boxing classes, Zumba classes (I can’t dance but I sure can try), Cardio Kickboxing, Zumba Toning…it all hurts so good.

4. My hair is now a lovely shade of Kool-Aid-Red! (This picture doesn’t even do the brightness justice.)

I bought those earrings this month, too!

5. I have recently taken on the challenge of reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. My roommate introduced me to this book recently. If you have never heard of it, please check it out. I can only hope my mind and soul are strong enough to make it through the entire book.

6. I finished The Virgin Suicides, and was sort of disappointed overall. (Ah, now I know what my next post will be about.)

7. My novel-in-progress is also returning to the top of my priority list. I kick myself every day for letting my little period of darkness take a toll on my writing…but we can’t take these things back, can we?

8. One of my best friends gave birth to the most precious little boy, Joseph. I’ve never fallen in love with something so quickly (except maybe Joe…and frozen yogurt). He is surrounded by friends and family who all want a turn at cuddling him; so blessed.

9. I spent enough at Shop Rite to get my free Easter ham! Alright, so you’re not excited…but I am.

10. And here I am. Just me, the radio, and a Thursday afternoon.

Happy Spring!

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I Obsess, I Digress

Today, I did just a tiny bit of self-pampering: I  got my nails done. They’re red and green and have little bows on my left ring finger and right middle finger. I spent some much needed time with my very pregnant best friend, resting my palm on her tummy and feeling the baby push back at me (an insane experience); I went to the gym for the first time in 3 weeks, I did some reading,  I started work on a new short story, and I dusted off my flash drive to take a look at my novel-in-progress.

I’m up and down but mostly up this week, and I thank my blogging family yet again for your constant words of encouragement. I’ve made the decision to see a therapist, and am honestly excited by the idea. I’ve talked to several people now who have been to therapy, and they all say the same thing: “Everyone should see a therapist at some point in their lives.”

The excitement of the holidays is among us, and I must say my mind (and gut) are getting fully into the Christmas spirit. Let’s eat – I’ll feel bad about it later.

I’m including a short excerpt from where I left my novel, in the mist of NaNoWriMo and my negative attitude. I’m feeling suddenly inspired to get back on track. 🙂

      

        I sat on Mr. Paoli’s couch, one afternoon when I was seventeen, drinking lemonade and wiggling my toes through the dust that floated in a ray of sunlight filtering through the window. My father had shrunk our bank account with his trips to the liquor store and I needed a car, so I bought a new pushup bra at the corner store and snapped it on with my tightest, low-cut shirt.

“And what do I get out of it?” He sat next to me and moved my feet to his lap.

“Like you don’t already know the answer to that.” I lifted one foot and moved it gently over the crotch of his pants. My disgust for him had been stifled by my love for his money.

He grabbed my ankle and pursed his lips. I looked up at him in confusion. “What’s wrong?” I laughed. “Something else?”

“One of those afternoons”, he started, “when your father was at work and I offered to help your mother. One of those afternoons she let me.”

He stared at me, his hand still on my ankle. I sat up and curled my knees into my chest, releasing it. “Let you what?” My gaze fell to the half empty glass of lemonade on the coffee table.

“Angel.” He reached over, trying to put his hand on my knee, but I backed into the arm of the couch.

The room began to go dark around me; the sunlight narrowed to slits in front of my eyes before fading altogether. I felt cold, and a layer of clammy sweat formed on my hands and forehead.

“Don’t” I mustered through the fog.

 

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