“And then he fell into my arms for the last time. Even as his soul traveled into the cold embrace of death, his final sigh was taken with his eyes focused on mine.”
We were in a book store, and the reading of part of my first book, Dead in my Arms, had gone beautifully. It looked as if the discussion time would go just as smoothly.
“Wonderful.” The lady to my right pulled a used Kleenex out of her knitting bag and patted the corner of her eye. “And you look so good, dear. I can’t imagine writing such a novel after losing a man like that in such a dramatic fashion. It’s amazing how resourceful we can be in grief.”
I murmured understandingly. Keith hadn’t exactly left me via the death tunnel—more like through the adultery funnel—but hey, artistic license and all that . . .
“My first husband died in my arms. I dreaded the moment for many months before he passed on, but when his time came it was so much more serene than I expected. One moment he was breathing, the next . . .” She gazed blankly at the shelf of books beside her. She couldn’t have been older than thirty: wan and thin in face, and I imagined the rest of her to be much the same. I longed to hold her and tell her it would be ok, but I’d have been lying. Who was I to say her life would turn out fine? Keith had left me after ten years of marriage for my best friend. In many ways, I wished he had died. It would have been far easier to grieve and let him go into the great beyond than to go through the twenty stages of hatred I went through. The book was the “what if.” What if he had left me with honor, with my blessing, with friends around me to comfort me rather than offer me their favorite lawyers’ names?
I’m not quite sure how it all unraveled after he disappeared into Slutsville, but I shut myself into the closet with an old hack-and-slash PC and sent off my preliminary query to an agent, who called me as soon as she read the concept.
“I love it!” she gushed. (Most agents don’t gush, but this one does.) “How soon can you send me the complete manuscript? I just love a good memoir.”
I didn’t have the courage to tell her, then and there, that the story wasn’t quite true. Oh, it was in my dreams, in my thoughts, in my everyday meanderings of distraction; but the cold hard truth was that I was a fake, and though I had planned my revenge so many times in real life, the book was my way of trying to put fiction in place of reality in my demented brain. It was no wonder I was still single.
A woman got up and walked toward me with my book at the end of her chubby arm. “Well, I don’t know about the rest of these ladies, but I’m going to get your signature. I want to be one of the first to sit down and read the rest of this gripping tale of love.” She sat down in front of me and helped herself to my left hand. “Oh, my sweet dear. You still wear your ring.”
I swallowed. “Yes, it’s just too hard most days, you know?”
I signed her purchased copy with a flourish I didn’t feel. I hadn’t thought it would be this difficult to pretend in front of others, to be a veritable James Fry in action. Some of the other ladies lined up behind her, jabbering, excited to have a moment with the new celebrity.
I was sort of getting in to the swing of things when a familiar smell rushed through my nostrils—the smell of a man’s aftershave—followed by a voice I was particularly familiar with.
“Hey there, sugar blossom. I see you killed me off in your “memoir.” Such a shame the truth doesn’t pan out the way it did in your novel, although, by the way you wrote about me, at least you were able to highlight my best features.
I about choked into my blouse. It was the voice of the man I used to call Twingle (don’t ask); and among the silence in the reading area, I could hear the opening squeaks of an exposé.
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Love this, Sally! ...especially the way we're placed right in the middle of the story with your opening paragraph! ...and the way you keep the reader involved in the action. Great story... (rats, that it didn't work out for the challenge) :(
This is outstanding. i enjoyed every minute of it. It's easy how a little lie can turn on us in a flash. You did a great job and I felt like I was right there with the MC. The guy definitely was a dud!