We use fiction for reflection and illumination, but also for pleasure, enrichment. It isn't direct, like a bulleted list or a step-by-step how-to improve your life usefulness. But stories and anecdotes are just as useful in our lives as information, and a hell of a lot easier for all levels of our brains to assimilate. But is writing stories about writing stories informative, entertaining, enriching? Will I amass a readership, if I go on rambling about my "process"? Better to tell stories than to talk about writing them, I figure. The problem is that, once a story is published in a blog, it is considered "published", which excludes the story from consideration in some contests and journals.
But I'll take a gamble and keep things interesting, if not useful, and post a clip from my new work in progress.
I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to start anything new until Weather Vane was done, but it's not my fault, this story is very pushy and doesn't want to wait, apparently.
The day I broke up with Michael, I had gone to see the psychic, John Deere. In the reading, he described a destructive man whom I should consider dangerous. I laughed it off, knowing that Michael was depressive and mean, but destructive or violent, I didn’t think so. John Deere also said that I would have an offer of marriage, but that it would be a difficult decision to make. Then he described a new lover who was “black-haired and very sexy”. This was all very puzzling, since I was deeply in love with Michael, and wouldn’t hesitate if he asked me to marry him. Even though marriage was not on my to-do list at that time in my life. Michael and I lived in our own apartments – he at the bottom end of Spadina and me just north of Bloor – but I was paying both rents, both utilities and often, food. He was designing Japanese-inspired wearable art and I was working two jobs slinging designer hash on Queen Street West. He took naps in the afternoon, ate the food I brought to him and turned his back at night. I guess that’s why I loved him so much. We had more sex in the months following our separation than we had in the two years before.
Michael met me after my reading with John Deere. We had stopped walking to wait for the light at the corner of Carlton and Gerrard. I turned to him and asked, “Did you want to marry me?” The October wind picked up stray leaves and flung them at our legs. A streetcar going west clattered by, its steel wheels screeching as it made the turn. Michael swivelled his long body, tilted his head so that he was both looking over his shoulder and down at me. His eyes half-closed, eyebrows pulled into a high tight arc. “No!” his tone thick with distain, as if the very thought of such a notion dirtied him. As he stepped off the curb to cross the street, I pushed myself after him, and walked a little behind, muzzled and mute, until he came to the subway station. I pulled up beside him and he looked down as though he had just noticed my presence. A flicker of a light illuminated a crevice in my brain, a crevice where a truth was stored -- this is the way he always looks at me.
I have to go home, I said.
See you later, he said.
At my bathroom mirror, I applied thick kohl around my eyes and brushed my permed curls into soft brown fuzz. I slipped on a heavy midnight blue sweater that covered my hips, and took the bus to his apartment.
We sat across from each other at his small but tasteful kitchen table, where a month before I had served him eggplant parmesan. It had taken most of the day in that tiny kitchen to make the sauce and prepare the eggplant. I wanted it to be as close to the dish we ate twice in that place by the Spanish Steps. He took one bite, threw down his fork. It’s too salty! It’s disgusting. He was right. It was too salty.
As I fingered the saltcellar I told him I couldn’t go on like this, that I needed someone who appreciated me, who cared for me and who would show me that he did. Someone who wanted to make love to me. He sat with his forearms folded loosely over his long legs, head down, listening. He nodded, as if recognizing a core truth. I guess I won’t know what I’ve got ‘til it’s gone, he said, his voice quiet. Then he looked up and asked, shall we make love one more time?