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Decisions, Books, Neighbors & Horoscopes

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“I’m not sure if I ever see myself having kids,” I said. I was sitting on a couch and my leg was crossed over the other under my pale yellow jersey dress. The rubber sole of one of my white Keds tapped a steady beat on the shiny terrazzo floor. My hair was pulled back with a hair clip but chunky dirty blonde bangs hid one of my eyes, black eyeliner and all. I sat up tall and head-tossed the swath of bangs out of my view to make eye contact with the psychologist in the tortoise horn-rimmed glasses. She sat behind a desk, nodded her head and scribbled notes on her legal pad.

I can’t be certain of my words or the fine details of this murky mental montage but I conjure it up from time to time because this was the day I made a fateful choice.

~Excerpt from a work-in-progress by Jill Dyan Martin

 

621219_4787147399076_1622244111_oJoel trails behind me, ice tinkling in his glass as we walk the hallway to my bedroom where I gesture toward the wall of bookshelves opposite my bed.

“Holy crap, Vela,” he says. “You’re right. Now this is a lot of books.” He crosses in front of the shelves scanning the titles. “Alphabetical?” he asks, a slight frown indicating he’s trying to discern my filing system.

“That’s so pedestrian,” I say. “They’re grouped by fiction or non, then bios and memoir. Humor has its own section and I have a ‘favorites’ shelf for books that, you know … I fell in love with.” Embarrassed by this admission, I stand in front of this exact section of books, block it from Joel’s view.

“That sounds pretentious,” I say.

Joel shakes his head in disagreement. “Not at all.” He turns away from the wall of books and sits on the edge of the bed. “A book can change your life,” he says before taking another sip of his drink.

“Exactly,” I say for the second time, nodding. I’m flooded with relief and apprehension, understood but exposed, naked even with all my clothes on.

~Excerpt from The Difficulty of Ending, a novel-in-progress by Donna Marganella

 

UnknownWhen our Neighborhood Watch—a pseudonym for busybodies-who-document-minorities-soliciting-magazine-sales—notices any colorful youths knocking on doors, the email tree bears fruit. The warnings are instantaneous and specific. The watch knows who lives on our block, and they assume everyone else is casing houses. Moments after the first sales pitch emails trip over themselves to be the first to contact the sheriff. Everyone takes credit. Everyone reported first. It is of no consequence whether the two Guatemalan boys from Chula Vista really were raising funds for the soccer team, brown is not white, and the Watch knows the difference.

~Excerpt from Afternoon Rooster, a work-in-progress by Mark Radoff

 

images-2Relief flooded into Harold’s chest. “If you’re sure then, we can sign right now. I have a clean copy of the agreement in my brief case if I can find it.” He spied his brief case and rushed to it.

“Nope. Sorry, can’t do it.” She shook her head.

Harold stopped, his eyes questioning. “I thought you said you were ready.”

“Oh yeah, I’m gonna sign it. But not today. My horoscope says I can’t.” She shuffled over to the table and picked up a wrinkled tabloid. Turning to the last page, she read: “Today of all days, avoid commitment of any sort. You court disaster by discussing anything important. Your moon is rising into Sagittarius, take cover.”

Ralph the Knight spoke over her shoulder, “You don’t want to see Peaches when her moon is rising.”

~Excerpt from San Joaquin Suicide Hotline, a novel-in-progress by James Albert

 

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