Visits

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On therapy and leather.

Published July 27, 2017 by mandileighbean

I took just a smidge more than a week off because my three nephews were visiting, and they are considerably more than a handful. The oldest just turned 9, the middle one is 6, and the youngest is 3. My sister is something of a saint, no? I foolishly thought I’d have time to update during their visit, but I’m happy to report that I was SO wrong and spent every moment I could with my three favorite gentlemen.

I am also super happy to report that The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency requested a full manuscript. I shared the news on my Facebook page, and someone commented, “No. They sent me the same letter. They want money,” or something to that effect. I did some research and it seems they do ask for $35, which is not something literary agents typically do. However, the latest incident reported was five years ago and $35 seems a small fee if the agency likes my manuscript and wishes to work with me. I wonder how much of the online reporting is reliable, and how much of it is colored by pissed off people who never made it.

No reward without the risk, right? That being said, I sent an email – which I now regret – inquiring about the “fee.” I hope they don’t think I’m a jerk, unprofessional, or unwilling to pursue this offer. I act impulsively most of the time, which has mostly proved problematic and left me with more than a handful regrets. But that’s not an invitation to a pity party; only a smooth segue to this week’s blog post.

Enjoy! Read. Comment. Share.

WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT #4.2017: “He’s attractive, he’s funny, he’s rich. Why am I not interested?”

The leather couch looked fancy as hell. It was made of brown tufted leather, the upholstery buttons had a warm golden finish, and the actual shape of the couch was kind of urban and retro. It did not scream comfort so much as it did elegance, so it was exactly the kind of couch one would picture being in a reputable yet chic therapist’s office. The couch perfectly matched the mahogany desk and bookshelves and everything was just so bourgeois and it made Gemma feel worse.

When she had stretched out along the sofa, the leather groaned and drew more attention to itself than Gemma had wanted. She knew, just knew, that Dr. Hoffmann was appraising her cheap cotton shirts and plain cotton tee-shirt, sizing her up to be something worse than what she was (if that was even possible). Gemma should have dressed for the occasion, but what does one wear to their second therapist appointment? She didn’t know; she didn’t know anything, really. And the only instruction Dr. Hoffmann had given was to talk. But what should she talk about? She had chewed her bottom lip for a minute or two in agonizing silence before Dr. Hoffmann finally offered some direction: “How’s the love life?”

Gemma barked a laugh, a masculine guffaw that she immediately regretted, that embarrassed her. She covered her burning face with her hands and apologized. Gently, Dr. Hoffmann reminded her that she had nothing to apologize for and asked about that interesting, swift response. “It’s been complicated,” Gemma said. She slid her hands down her face, stretching the skin and smearing her makeup. “I had my heart broken or whatever – I mean, I guess it was pretty traumatic – but there’s this new guy now. He’s attractive, he’s funny, he’s rich.” Gemma groaned. “Why am I not interested?”

“Well, I think the answer to that question is fairly obvious, don’t you?”

Gemma bolted upright. It wasn’t Dr. Hoffmann’s voice that had asked the question, but someone else. It was someone she had never ever wanted to see again, and someone she hoped she bumped into randomly every day. It was strong but melodic, unremarkable but wonderful, full of contradictions just like its owner, who had been so beautiful and awful all at once. Slowly, like a B-actress in the climax of a fairly predictable horror movie, she turned her neck to the side and saw him sitting in the chair, looking as handsome and smug as ever. It was the heart breaker himself, Jax.

His real name was Ajax; his terribly pretentious parents had actually named him after a Greek god, and its meaning was “powerful eagle,” or something equally as absurd when not living in Ancient Greece. Maybe it wasn’t Jax’s fault he was a complete and total douche bag but more a fulfillment of destiny. How could a guy be anything but a twat waffle with a name like that? His future of seersucker pants and canvas boat shoes had been inescapable. And Gemma had fallen for it, had fallen for it hard.

Gemma was furious and wanted nothing more than to leap to her feet in a manner that exuded that anger and some confidence and she wanted to be intimidating. But her thighs ripping from the leather and the way the leather groaned whenever she made the slightest movement made the whole thing unimpressive and lame. “You can’t be here. This isn’t possible.”

“And yet here I am,” Jax grinned, showing a quick flash of teeth before he smoothed his countenance into something so forced and serious it was comical. “Now, I’d really like to discuss this lack of interest in a suitable partner.” He wasn’t in his usual attire. He was wearing a tailored three-piece suit and looked every bit the medical professional. He even crossed one leg over the other, mindful of the fabric and of creating any unseemly creases.

“Go to hell,” Gemma said. “That’s none of your business. You need to leave.” She surveyed the room quickly. “How’d you even get in here?”

Jax rolled his eyes and his tone was impatient. “You brought me, obviously.”

Gemma shut her eyes tight and shook her head. This didn’t make sense, couldn’t actually be happening, and she had to come back to reality. “I need to find Dr. Hoffmann.” She opened her eyes and headed towards the door. Gracefully, Jax moved to block her exit.

“Then what? You get someone to come in here and find that I’m gone? Or that Dr. Hoffmann’s been here the whole time? They’ll send you to a psychiatrist and you’ll spend most of your remaining days heavily sedated.” Jax smiled sadly. “Imagine the damper that’ll put on your social life.”

“So what is this? Why are you here?”

“You tell me.”

Gemma gritted her teeth. “Don’t act like you’re a therapist and just tell -”

“No, no, I’m serious,” Jax interrupted. “Believe me; I am not here of my own free will. You brought me here to deal with me.”

“Deal with you? I’m so done with you, Jax,” Gemma growled. She pushed past him and returned to the couch. She also returned to her prostrate position and returned to the idea that if she closed her eyes real tight and then opened them, this would all go away.

“That’s obviously inaccurate. If it were true, you could have talked about me to Dr. Hoffmann no problem, but you tried to gloss it over and now here I am,” Jax said. “And you won’t look at me. And you can’t date anyone else.”

“That’s not true,” Gemma shouted. Her eyes popped open and she turned to look at Jax. “I didn’t avoid discussing you, I just didn’t know what to talk about. And I think it’s perfectly normal for me to not relive every single disappointment with you.”

“I was disappointing?” Jax asked, surprised.

Gemma rolled her eyes and looked at the ceiling. “What would you call it when you think you’re going to spend the rest of your life with someone and they just slowly phase you out? You stopped hanging out, you stopped calling and texting; it just ended.”

“You wanted to spend the rest of your life with me?” Jax asked, touched.

Gemma didn’t answer. She continued staring at the ceiling.

“If that’s true, you didn’t fight very hard.”

“Seriously?” Gemma challenged. She sat up. “Danielle always says that if a guy wants to spend time with you, he will.”

“Oh, and Danielle knows me really well, does she? She knows all the intricacies of our relationship?”

Gemma faltered. “No, but -”

“It can’t be all on me all the time, Gemma. Was I an asshole? Absolutely. You knew I was an asshole from the beginning though, to be fair.” Gemma was about to protest but Jax continued. “But you kept me from being an asshole and I helped you be a little bit more of an asshole. That’s why we worked. You made me a more thoughtful man and I helped you be less of a doormat.”

“Why did we stop working?”

Jax looked away and shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s probably a conversation we should have though, isn’t it?”

“Yes, definitely,” Gemma said.

And Jax was gone. She was looking at a terribly confused Dr. Hoffmann. “Excuse me, Gemma? I asked you why you laughed.”

Slowly, Gemma sat up. “What?”

Patiently, Dr. Hoffmann leaned forward and said, “When I asked you about your love life, you laughed. And then I asked you why you laughed, and you told me, ‘Yes, definitely.’ I’m just confused.”

Gemma laughed. “Me too, Doc. Or at least I was.” She looked around the room. “Do you think I could step out a moment? I just need to make a quick phone call.”

On supernatural distractions.

Published July 6, 2012 by mandileighbean

Missy and her family are visiting from Virginia.  They came up for a wedding, and will be staying through the weekend so Jimmy can celebrate his fourth birthday with us.  Missy, John and Jack will leave on Sunday, but Jimmy will stay for about a week.  I’m very excited but – as to be expected – I’ve been distracted from writing.  Simultaneously, I’ve been inspired by the film “Fright Night,” starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell. You’ve been given fair warning: the following probably sucks, as I’m trying something new without giving it my best effort.

Good luck.

PROMPT: “You know, they invented a word for guys like him.”

PIECE:

“You know, they invented a word for guys like him.”

Cheyenne sighed and ran her hands along her wearied face.  She was definitely too young to feel so fucking old.  Maybe Marley was right and it was all part of the territory, but Marley being right was the worst thing in the whole entire world – she’d be wildly obnoxious about it.  “I get it, Marley.  We’ve had this conversation a million and one times – you’re not telling me anything new, or anything that I don’t already know.  So essentially, you’re not being helpful and unless you’re going to help, shut up.”

Marley bit the insides of her cheeks to keep quiet and crossed her thin arms over her chest.  Cheyenne had insulted her – best friend or not – so Marley would let Cheyenne turn the whole place upside down on her own.  Why would she help a bitch on a wild goose chase?  She wasn’t dating a monster.  She raised an eyebrow and watched Cheyenne derisively as she wrenched open cabinets and pulled out drawers, letting their contents clatter to the floor.  “What are you even looking for?”

“I’ve already told you,” Cheyenne answered sharply.  “He needs a medallion about the size of an old subway token.  It has a bat on it, and he needs it tonight because the main guy is coming for it.”

Marley’s mouth dropped open.  “Are you saying there are more coming here tonight?”  Cheyenne did not answer, but she did considerably slow her frantic searching.  “Oh, fuck that!” Marley erupted.  “It could be a bloodbath!  He’s putting all of us in some serious danger!  They could kill us all!”

Cheyenne turned slowly to face Marley.  Her clenched fists and deep breathing showed that she was battling a swelling rage.  “James wouldn’t do that, Marley.  He would never –“

“What happened to Sam?” Marley asked, interrupted.  Both young women knew exactly what had happened to Sam – he had been killed – murdered – about a month ago.  There had been a severe misunderstanding about Sam’s intentions towards Cheyenne and how those intentions affected both his attitudes and actions towards James.  In essence, James was convinced that Sam was coming for him, so he struck first and even though Sam had been brave and fought long and hard to defend himself, it had all been for naught.  “Please, Cheyenne, let’s end this!  I know he’s one thing to you, but to everyone he’s not trying to fuck, he’s something else.”

Cheyenne wiped her eyes.  “It’s not just that, Marley.  You know it’s not so vulgar.  We love each other.”

“He can’t love you or anyone, Cheyenne.  He’s a monster, a literal living and breathing monster.”

“Marley –“

“There’s a word for guys like him, Cheyenne.  There’s a word for draining the life from someone and not feeling an ounce of remorse, rationalizing murder because it’s necessary for existence.  If he were human, he’d be a sociopath, but he’s not human, is he?”

“No,” Cheyenne barely whispered.

“So what’s the word I’m thinking of?  You need to hear yourself say it.  You need to come to grips with reality.”

Marley sighed.  “I know – the word is vampire.”

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