Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's Catch-Up Time!

Many people have let me know that while they're still totally engrossed in Katie's story, they're having a hard time keeping up. The weather got nice, and people went on trips, had babies, grew vegetables, painted their porches, fell in love, suffered breakups, read novels, attended festivals, and turned off the Internet and went out in canoes. Some people even went swimming! Lucky ducks.

Essentially, people started living their Summer Time Lives (especially those who live in places like Sasktoon, Saskatchewan, where we cram 12 months of fun into two, because we only have two months to be outside sans snowsuit).

So I've decided to take the rest of the summer off writign new chapters and give readers a chance to catch up. I'll be back in September with Chapter 27!

During this "break", while you are all busy reading voraciously, I'll be redesigning the site a bit. I think we need a "Recap" page, and a "Characters" page. Can you think of any other tabs I could add to make things even better? Please leave suggestions below!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chapter 26: In Which Katie Discovers a Previously Hidden Talent For Accents

"Oh, I have to be okay. I’ve got too much shit going on at work to dwell on this. But if I was reluctant to attend this party before, I am really dreading it now. Please tell me you’re coming? You’ll bring Eoin.”

“I’ll ask him,” Katie hugged her friend back, just as she heard a deep voice behind her.

“Well. Miss Williams. It’s no wonder you couldn’t make our lunch meeting. Too busy with your afternoon delight?”

Katie felt her friend freeze in her arms. “Fuck, Katie. I forgot about the meeting.” Melissa whispered nearly indecipherable words into her ear.

Melissa missed a meeting? That was craziness. Katie often forgot meetings -- she couldn’t count the number of times she’d been sitting at her desk, reading Laineygossip or Gofugyourself when Erica had tapped her timidly on the shoulder to remind her that she had been due in the conference room five minutes ago. But Melissa was...she lived for meetings. She played hard, sure, but she worked even harder, and for her to miss a meeting meant things really were spiraling out of control for Katie’s best friend.

“S’okay,” Katie mumbled to Melissa, and vowed to save the day. She would cover for Melissa and their mending friendship would finally be totally better.

“Rebecca! Angus! Good afternoon,” Melissa had detached herself from Katie and was pushing her, none-too-gently, to the side. “Yes, missing the meeting was unfortunate. I must apologize. I was delayed.”

Rebecca, (a mid-forties woman with wide hips, great legs, and a terrifically expensive red suit), glanced over at Angus, (a tall, muscular man with a square jaw and a nose that veered so far to the right Katie could only imagine he’d been in an awful football accident), who smiled knowingly. “Delayed by this pretty young thing, I see.” He spoke smoothly, with a British accent. (So not football. Katie looked thoughtfully at his mangled nose. A soccer accident. No….rugby, perhaps? Or maybe he was smashed in the face with a cricket bat? Or a polo stick? What other generalizations could she make about the British?)

Suddenly his words hit her and Katie snapped back to attention. Oh, dear. These Business People thought Melissa had played hooky on their meeting so she could sneak off with her girlfriend. The thought would have made her giggle but this was serious--this guy might have been smiling cheekily at them but having sex when you were supposed to be at a business meeting wasn’t cool. Katie should know -- she had a whole draft folder of emails she was going to send to Paul and Mike telling them pretty much exactly that as soon as she worked up the courage to send one.

“Oh, we’re not, it’s not--” Melissa, usually so cool and collected, was stammering, and so Katie, usually so stammery herself, came forward, stuck out a hand, and said, “Sorry, Rebecca, Angus, is it? Sorry, this is entirely my fault. I insisted Melissa meet with me.

“And you are?” Rebecca raised a carefully groomed eyebrow. What a skill! Both plucking so well and raising one eyebrow were abilities Katie had yet to master.

“Violet. Violet Marsh.” Katie had no idea where the name came from. Nor did she know what was happening to her voice. She was sliding into a Southern drawl, not unlike the one Anna Paquin had adopted for her role as Sookie Stackhouse.  “I’m an old, old client of Melissa’s and we were having a wee crisis. I implored Melissa to meet with me before your meeting and, well, we just kept talking.” Implored? Wee crisis? Violet Marsh was taking on a pretty solid shape, here. Katie heard her long vowels, her up-tilted sentences. Dammit. She knew what this was – she’d been mainlining True Blood episodes since she’d learned how to download television illegally and this was the result. “I had so many questions, you see, and Melissa is such a dear, dedicated worker. She did tell me about her meeting with you and I’m afraid I just monopolized her.”

"So you're a client as well?" Angus looked appraisingly at Katie, who couldn't believe the luck that she was dressed like an actual business person herself for once.

"Oh, yes." Melissa, somewhat recovered, stepped forward and smiled. "I've been working with Ms Marsh for some time now."

"And I was a teensy bit worried about our sales lately. I flew in special just for this meetin'," said Katie. "All the way from Louisiana." She smiled a sweet, Sookie Stackhouse-style smile. "So Melissa here just had to meet with me. My daddy's comp'nee has been working with Mr Ambrose since before I was born." Katie batted her eyelashes in a Scarlett-O'Hara way. She was exhausting all her stereotypes today. "Daddy's in hotels," she whispered, leaning in so close to Rebecca and Angus that they had to bend in to listen to her, as though she were telling a juicy piece of gossip. Good lord. All she needed was a fan and a passel of horny young men to bring her barbecue and biscuits to seal the deal.

"So you can see why I was able to convince Miz Williams here to miss her meetin’ with you two." Here Katie allowed her voice to get hard. Tough. Like a Steel Magnolia! "It's not that I'm trying to be more important than the likes of you," she said, "But I guess maybe I just am…"

The looks on their faces were of shocked amusement, and Melissa stiffened at her side. Katie supposed maybe she had gone just a bit too far. "Well, it was lovely meetin’ y'all. And please, don't take this out on Ms Williams. Like I said, this was entirely my fault. You are in the best of hands with this one. You couldn't have picked a better member of staff to rep your product." Katie gave them all a delicate little wave. "G'bye now. Have a terrific afternoon."

She turned and walked away as quickly as she could on those terrible, too-small Steve Maddens. She wanted desperately to take them off, but she didn't think walking down
Front Street
barefoot was something that Violet Marsh would do.

Her heart was pounding, she was sweating into the unforgiving cashmere sweater. Pink wool was definitely not the ideal choice for a summer day when you impersonate a Southern heiress.

She decided to stop in at a Shoppers' and buy a plain white tshirt. She was perusing the aisles when she got a text message from Melissa. "WTF was that???"

"I don't know." she texted back. "I think it was the pencil skirt and makeup combo. Or maybe those improv classes paid off."

"Whatever it was, THANK U :):):)" texted her friend, and Katie felt a wave of happiness. As crazy as that had been, they were totally best friends again.

On her way out of the shop she saw a bulletin board by the door. Flyers for puppies for sale, someone looking for English lessons, someone offering English lessons. A babysitter-for-hire, and a bunch of people looking for roommates. Katie reached into her bag and pulled out one of the giant, spooky caesar drawings that she'd made, entitled  "you were going to be fantastic.” She pinned it to the notice board.

Katie went back into the shop and bought a package of tacks. By the time she got back to the office, every single one of her pictures, all variations of the caesar posted on the bulletin board at Shoppers, had been affixed to something: a fence, a telephone pole, the side of a building, under the windshield of a car. None of the pictures were signed, and none of them had Anne's name on them. That wasn't the point. The sisters were beyond that kind of thing now. Katie had stopped imploring Anne to surface. This was just a new way to love.

Back at the office, in her new white tshirt, Katie watched the elevator doors opening and closing with an anxious churning in her stomach. What if Melissa brought Rebecca and Angus back to the office? It was entirely possible. Not every meeting could be conducted on the sidewalk or in Cuban-French fusion restaurants. Eventually people want big wooden tables and receptionists to make a deal seem real. She took out her bun, wiped the makeup off her face, and hoped that with her tshirt and Canadian accent they'd be fooled. These diversionary tactics were the kinds of things that would only work in a chick-lit novel. But given that her life often felt like a chick-lit novel, Katie kind of expected this ruse to work.

By four o'clock Melissa had not yet returned, clients in tow or alone. Katie was starting to relax when the elevator doors opened up and out walked….

You Decide!

Eoin! He wants to tell her about his upcoming art opening.


Her mother! She wants Katie's help cleaning out Anne's room.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chapter 25: In which friendships are mended!

What Katie wanted more than anything was to call her sister and ask her what the hell she should do about Melissa’s birthday. David and Georgina were invited. What should she do? What would Anne have advised, five years, four years, three years ago, before she lost it? Katie tried to remember her sister as she’d been then. She continued sketching various versions of the drink. It was making her so thirsty. She sipped her tea.

Katie didn’t sleep much that night. It wasn’t that she wasn’t tired, because she was. She was, in fact, exhausted. Her life was kind of overwhelming. Not only was she dealing with the usual issues that single 33-year-old women in Toronto have to deal with on a regular basis, like a new relationship, friendship-dramas, unresolved boyfriend issues, a leaking basement that had let in nearly an inch of water during a crazy almost-Tornado, and a mother who kept texting weird, mom-texts (R yu cming to supr?) to see if she’d like to come for dinner,, but she also had deal with a lot of stuff she felt pretty sure were exceptional to people in her circumstances, like surviving said crazy almost-Tornado, an alcoholic homeless sister, a full-time job that she was completely confused by -- seriously, she did a lot of “fake it til you make it” in that place -- and a whole lot of failed dreams. (Actually, scratch that. Failed dreams are actually pretty universal, no matter your age or circumstance. Sorry, Katie. Nothing exceptional about those).

These were the things that kept her up at night, tossing, turning, too far inside her own head to find peace. It was like a million almost-tornadoes were brewing, and she needed one of them to come to life. Even if it destroyed everything it its path, at least something would have happened.

So Katie decided to talk to Melissa. She would warn her about David and Georgina coming to her party. Melissa might appreciate the gesture, or she might only get angrier, but at least Katie would know where she stood with her friend.

Katie dressed carefully the next day, giving herself an extra half-hour to do her hair and makeup (as in, finally wearing some). She wanted Melissa to see her as an adult, as a responsible, mature person. She wore a charcoal Banana Republic pencil skirt (purchased on sale with Melissa earlier in the year when she had been impressing upon Katie the importance of corporate camouflage) with a pink cashmere sweater and black heels. With her low bun and subtle makeup she looked like a Melissa-in-training (albeit a scrawny, white-girl version) and it was just perfect.


“Laundry day?” Melissa smiled as she eyed Katie from tidy bun to stylish shoes. Katie smiled back, relief flooding her veins. This was good. Melissa could have sneered at her costume, and “laundry day” would not have had the comforting lilt that it did.

“What? You don’t like my outfit?” Katie was teasing, elated. Melissa was thawing. Thank goodness. It had been nearly two weeks since the fight. A long time for them.

“It’s just unexpected, that’s all.” Melissa leaned across her desk, her voice low. “You better watch out, Katie. You look like you know what you’re doing.”

Katie didn’t know what to say next. Her feet pinched in her heels. She remembered now why they lived at the back of her closet under her winter sweaters.

She took a deep breath. “Listen, Melissa. I’m … sorry. About being a freak. About being a mess. I’m just...”

“Katie, this really isn’t the time.” Melissa’s voice wasn’t teasing anymore. She sounded so tired.

“I know. Okay. I was wondering if you want to go to lunch?” Katie rushed the words, held her breath.

“Sure. It has to be quick, though. I’ve got stuff to do.” Melissa glanced at her watch. “Is 1 okay for you?”

“Absolutely,” Katie nodded. “I’ll meet you at the elevators.” She gave Melissa a little wave and walked back to her desk, trying not to limp in her two-small Steve Maddens. And the damn things had even been full-price.

Step one accomplished, thought Katie as she slid into her own desk chair. But she and Melissa were still on shaky ground, and she wasn’t sure how Melissa would feel about her getting involved in this whole David situation. After all, David was kind of the reason they were in this not-talking-mess in the first place. Well, actually, it was probably fairer to blame alcohol and Katie’s own unresolved issues with her own failed relationship with Bobby,, but David had been the catalyst. David and alcohol. Right. No alcohol at lunch.

“So should we get a drink?” Melissa picked up the cocktail list from the table at Chez Che, a French-Cuban fusion place that was big with the more artistic among the suit-and-briefcase crowd.

“Err....” Katie frowned at the menu. “No, we’ve got to go back to work, and I want to keep my head straight.” Though there was something on the list called a Dark and Stormy that sounded just heavenly. (It also fit the tornado-metaphor quite nicely).  But alcohol was a catalyst! Must not start a fight!

“Right. Good girl”. For the second time that day, Katie and Melissa were across from one another, staring at one another.. Katie knew Melissa was going to make her speak first. Melissa was nice, but no pushover. Katie took a deep breath.

“I need to talk to you about....” She heard the words: David and Georgina, Nora invited them, blah blah blah and it all sounded so childish, so spiteful, she didn’t know how to formulate the sentences to have them make sense, to have them sound like she was caring, not jealous of Nora.  Melissa was her best friend, but she was also kind of scary.

“...Anne.” Katie knew the minute she started talking that Anne was exactly what she needed to talk about. Wanted to talk about. Her breakthrough with Anne was something Melissa would celebrate.  “Eoin and I think we found her. Well, we are finding her.”

“Wait a minute. Who’s Eoin?”

Katie blushed. Of course. Melissa didn’t know about her and Eoin. “Oh, he’s...It’s a long story. He’s this artist that I met and we’ve kind of been seeing one another. We’ve only been out a few times but he’s...nice. He’s really great.”

“What? How could you not tell me about this?” Melissa grabbed her friend’s hand, her fingers squeezing with excitement. And then the light went out of her eyes. “Oh, yeah. I wasn’t talking to you.”

“Yeah.” Katie watched as Melissa’s hand dropped away from hers. She took a sip from her water glass. “I wanted to tell you everything. But....”

“Tell me now.” Melissa took Katie’s hand again. “Who is he? Where did you meet him?”

“Well, kind of at that wedding.....You know. The one where I acted like a freak and caused you to tell me you never wanted to speak to me again?” Katie tried for humour.

“I never said that!” Melissa protested, but she was joking, this was jokey, this was fine.

“No, not in so many words. I just extrapolated meaning.” Katie winked.

“Oh, you and your drama.” Melissa rolled her eyes. “Okay, so what’s happening with Anne?”

And Katie told her everything. Over Katie’s croque-monsieur sandwich and Melissa’s bowl of  black bean soup, the two friends caught up. Katie filled her in on everything, from the art project to the night on the fire escape, to the near-tornado and the fact that they were on their way to finding Anne. And then the cheque was arriving, and Katie got the bill and as she was slipping a tip under her water glass she realized that she hadn’t yet told Melissa about Nora and the surprise party guests.

“Melissa.” Katie tugged on her friend’s sleeve. They were standing on the sidewalk, and Melissa was shading her eyes from the bright sun. “I need to tell you something.”

“What now? Ooh, let me guess. You’ve been promoted to the head of Marketing. You were abducted by aliens. You’re moving to South Dakota.”

Katie shook her head. “No, Melissa, I --”

“Please don’t tell me you’re getting married. I couldn’t stand it if you were.”

“No. It’s....” Katie took a deep breath. “Melissa, Nora is throwing you a surprise party.”

“That’s it?” Melissa wrinkled up her nose.  “You made it sound really --”

“And she invited David and Georgina. And according to Facebook both are attending.” Katie shut her eyes tight. Like she thought a bomb was about to go off.

“I know.”

“What?” Katie opened her eyes. Apparently the bomb was a dud.

“Yeah. Well, I kind of know. I’m not surprised, anyway.  See, Nora was talking about my birthday, what I was doing, what I wanted to plan, you know. And I said, nothing, I don’t really want to do anything. And she was all, oh, it’s 34, you have to make a fuss, but since when is 34 a thing?”

Katie shrugged. “I’m pretty sure 34 isn’t a thing.”

“I know. Right? Anyway, I told Nora that I didn’t want to plan anything, and then she said she would just do it. And then she was all, I’ll make it a surprise! And I told her, do whatever. Just tell me where to be and I’ll be there.”

“So how did you know about David?”

“Well, she asked me how things were with David and Georgina when I saw them at the wedding, and I said we’d kind of made peace. Like, we were civil, we were friendly, and I told her how we’d kind of left it at, “let’s be friends! let’s hang out!” “

Melissa rolled her eyes, and Katie felt a sadness when she realized that she was only hearing these details about the meeting with David and his new wife now, so long after the fact. She should have heard this all the next day, over breakfast with her friends. Instead she’d been lying on her aunt’s couch, feeling sorry for herself. “So what did she say to that?”

“Wel, Nora was all, “How about I invite them to your party?” And I said, “Fine, whatever. But I didn’t really think she’d actually do it.” Melissa threw her beautifully manicured hands in the air. “But she did it!” Melissa leaned against the outside wall of restaurant.

Katie leaned into the wall next to her, the bricks warm through her pink sweater. “Is Nora crazy?”

“My theory is that Nora has been with the same guy since her freshman year of University. She doesn’t understand heartbreak. She’s never been dumped. She doesn’t get it.” Melissa wrapped her arm around Katie. “Not like you.”

“So you’re not okay?”

“Oh, I have to be okay. I’ve got too much shit going on at work to dwell on this. But if I was reluctant to attend this party before, I am really dreading it now. Please tell me you’re coming? You’ll bring Eoin.”

“I’ll ask him,” Katie hugged her friend back, just as she heard a deep voice behind her.

“Well. Miss Williams. It’s no wonder you couldn’t make our lunch meeting. Too busy with your afternoon delight?”

Katie felt her friend freeze in her arms. “Fuck, Katie. I forgot about the meeting.” Melissa whispered nearly indecipherable words into her ear.

You Decide!

It turns out that the voice belongs to the head of the company that Melissa’s department has been trying to snare, but Melissa missed an important lunch meeting.  Katie has to cover for her friend so that Melissa doesn't get in trouble with Don "Juan" Ambrose, their boss!

So, knowing that, you have to decide between these two things: 

1. In order to help cover for her friend, Katie pretends that she is a client who is hoping to hire Melissa for a big, important project

2. In order to help cover for her friend, Katie pretends to be a heartbroken friend who needed consoling from her old Sorority Sister.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chapter 24: In which Katie gets serious

“Do you have a pen?” She asked the poster boy. He handed her a black Sharpie. Katie carefully crossed out “were” and with the tidiest printing she could manage, carefully wrote in “are”.

Eoin appeared at her side, and raised an eyebrow.

“I have to reach her somehow.”  Katie took his hand. An idea was beginning to form.

Katie didn’t even want to go to the other 7-Elevens. “There’s no point,” she told Eoin. There was something bubbling up in the base of her stomach, an idea, a plan. “We can still check them out, but I have stuff to do first.” She loved this feeling: alive, committed. She wanted to get home fast, ride this wave of emotion and possibility right into creation. She was ready.

“You’ve got a project in mind, don’t you? Maybe I can help.” Eoin smiled, grabbed her hand. He was reacting to the light in her face, to the energy in her walk as she hurried towards his truck.

Katie thought about his “studio”, that bachelor apartment dedicated to his wide-sweeping art project. She thought about the girl in the coffee shop who knew him, who knew “Eoin Verdon” just like that, they’d “learned about him in class”, and Katie wasn’t ready, not yet, to share this much with him.

“I’ll show you when it’s done.” She took his hand firmly in hers and squeezed. “I promise”. She hoped she meant it. She would try very hard to make it so.

So Eoin drove her home. “I can’t invite you in,” she said, the creative urge near to bursting. She worried that if she didn’t grab it right there it might fade away.

“Believe me, I get it.” Eoin smiled at her. “Take your time, Katie. I’m excited to see what you get up to.” He brushed the hair out of her face and  Katie wanted to kiss him, to press up against him, but then all that energy would be spent on him. And she wanted to spend it on herself, on Anne. So she pushed open the truck and waved goodbye. She loved that he understood this. He got it, he knew that feeling inside of her and he was willing to step aside and let her work with it. They’d see one another again, soon. She knew it.  And that fact, that solid, real fact, was enough for now.

Katie hadn’t been home in nearly 12 hours. Her house, her own little house, with its beige walls and Ikea furniture, didn’t exactly feel like a home. She hadn’t done enough living here yet.

But soon she’d have some art made, she could feel it. She’d hang some of it on the wall, and then she’d have Eoin over. Maybe once she’d had sex here (Would they? Oh, they would, Katie could tell from his kisses, from his hands, and her own reaction to them. Sooner than later, probably, and this made her face hot, made her worry about razors, about a waxing appointment, about padded bras in the dark. Too much! Not now! She banished the thoughts from her mind, she was losing that feeling in her blood, in her stomach, the creative feeling was sliding towards him and she yanked it back, she turned her mind back to herself, to the project at hand), maybe once she’d had sex in this house it would feel like a home. But for now, the house was waiting. Like Katie herself.

She walked into the kitchen to make some tea. She always had tea while she sketched out plans for new work. Her fingers were itching to get to her notebooks, long sitting unattended to in a corner of her living room, but she knew she could wait a moment til she had that cup of tea.

Her laptop was open in the kitchen, where she’d left it the night before while she’d been doing dishes. (She liked to watch television online when she did chores. It made the empty house a little less so. She’d tell people, “I have roommates,” and she meant the people on The Big Bang Theory, or  Law and Order, or old episodes of The Golden Girls.) She decided to check Facebook while waiting for the water to boil. No new messages, but there was an invitation to an event.

Watch out now....Melissa’s turning 34!

And we’re going to celebrate! This Saturday night, at The Rococco Room, VIP floor. Drop by my place first for cocktails and presents, and then we’ll head out en masse to dance, drink, and cheer on the one and only Melissa Williams!

The VIP area can take 30 people, so feel free to bring your significant others. OR leave them at home and pick up a hottie on the dance floor, bitches!

xox Nora

PS I’m trying to make this a surprise thing so please no spilling....

If there was one thing Katie hated, it was the word “hottie”. She also resented being called a “bitch”. When had that become acceptable? And she wasn’t a fan of surprise parties, and she was pretty sure Melissa wouldn’t want one, either. So there was a lot of stuff about this event that made her angry, but nothing was more upsetting then the fact that she hadn’t created it herself.

What had happened? She was the one who was supposed to be organizing Melissa’s birthday party. Not Nora. Not interloper Nora. Katie was here, and this was Katie’s job. But then she remembered all the terrible interactions she and Melissa had had recently, and she knew that Nora had done the right thing. Melissa didn’t want Katie organizing her party. She wasn’t even sure Melissa would want her at her party at all.

Katie heard the kettle click, but instead of making the tea, she looked at the list of invitees. There were Mike and Paul, which was weird, but she guessed they’d been Melissa’s friends before Katie’d started at the company. And there was Rosario, this girl Melissa and Nora had been friends with at U of T, and Kelly, (and his girlfriend, Kelley, no joke), and Melissa’s older brother and some of his friends, who also happened to be Melissa’s friends.

The “attending” column only had three names so far.  Nora, and David, Melissa’s ex, and David’s new wife, Georgina.

Well. This was unexpected.

Katie remembered, somewhat hazily, that Melissa had told her that they’d sorted things out at Brent and Lucy’s wedding but honestly. “Sorting things out” is a far cry from having them at her birthday party! What was Nora thinking? And she was calling all of them bitches? This seemed like the bitchiest move of all.

Katie could feel the creative energy ebbing out of her as she stared at the list of names. Some of them were unfamiliar, but some of them were very familiar. Rosario, and April and Suze, and Ahmed, and Dylan and Trev. This was her gang, pseudo-family, the group of people Katie had hung out with before Bobby, and during the early days of Bobby, and this was the group she’d lost touch with while she and Bobby had been making that world of theirs over in Vancouver. And this was the group that she’d wanted to slide easily back into when she’d come home, only Suze and Dylan had been Bobby’s, so that made things hard, and then Anne had gone crazy, and that had made things worse.

Katie went toward the kettle, determined to get back to her tea and the project before the night was up. While she waited for the tea bag to steep she thought about the last breakfast they’d all had, the big, friendly group of them, eating a sumptuous brunch at the Drake, Katie and April sharing the chicken and waffles because April was seriously hungover and Katie was seriously hungry. Anne wasn’t so off the rails, yet, she was still living at their parents place in Cabbagetown, and she was going to AA meetings, and she was seeing Jason and Jonah on regular Sunday visits, with the social worker and their parents holding their breath in the next room, and there was hope, still.

So Katie and April had been sharing a meal, and Dylan was regaling them with a story about his latest Internet dating disaster, and Melissa was with this guy she’d been dating, they’d been giggling, and it was so cute, and it was a perfect, sprawling Sunday morning when Anne had arrived, bright, breezy, and everyone knew her, Katie’s friends all knew her, she and Jason had hung out with them a few times in the past, before Katie had moved away.  Anne was the cool, successful older sister with the handsome husband, and so Ahmed had slid down the bench and said, “Anne, honey, come sit with me!”

Anne hadn’t ordered any food, just a mimosa, and then another. And then she’d moved onto a Caesar, and she’d ordered a pitcher because it was “so much more social!” only she’d drunk practically the whole thing herself, lounging across the bench when Ahmed and Rosario and Suze and Valeria all got up to go, about halfway into it.

“But there’s more to drink, you guys. C’mon, it’s Sunday!” Anne had filled up Dylan’s glass, and he was loving it, the two of them were sharing drunk-tank stories, only then Anne’s eyes had welled up when she started talking about “the damn social worker, I mean, he’s my kid, you know? I held down a job and breast fed him until he was goddamned near 18 months old, you know, pumping there in my office between meetings and they still have the gall to keep him away from me,” and then Dylan had slipped out, too, and April had left Katie most of the waffles and nearly all of the chicken, until it was only Katie, and Anne, and Melissa, and a bill for a whole lot of alcohol that Melissa had to cover.

That had been the last pseudo-family breakfast for Katie. She was pretty sure they still got together, but it was now so awkward that Katie had only ever met up with Melissa, that was it, and now there wasn’t even that.

Katie pulled out the tea bag, carried her mug over to the pile of notebooks in the living room. The desire to create had ebbed somewhat, but she thought she might be able to get it back. Her mind was filled with so much, she had to squeeze it all out, put it aside, and concentrate on her project. Something told her that if she didn’t start now, she might lose it forever.

She started flipping the pages of her books. Sketches, ideas, things she’d been going to make when she got home from Vancouver, when the ideas had been fresh and the plans abundant. She found a blank book, from the bottom of the pile, a blank, untouched space. This was where she had to start from: a new place. The heavy-handed symbolism of the blank page was not lost on Katie.

She picked up a pencil, a sharp, pointy one with dark, soft lead. And she began to draw. A large, overfull Caesar, filling up the page, resplendent with condensation, a pickled asparagus amongst the ice, and Katie’s own face reflected, distorted, in the glass.

What Katie wanted more than anything was to call her sister and ask her what the hell she should do about Melissa’s birthday. David and Georgina were invited. What should she do? What would Anne have advised, five years, four years, three years ago, before she lost it? Katie tried to remember her sister as she’d been then. She continued sketching various versions of the drink. It was making her so thirsty. She sipped her tea.

You Decide!

Does Katie decide to confront Nora about why she invited David and Georgina?
Does Katie decide to warn Melissa in advance that they’re coming?

Monday, August 1, 2011

This has never happened before...

You guys! Something has happened that has never happened before. I have a tie. And no one will break it!

I have four people who want Bobby to show up, and four people who want Melissa to show up. I am supposed to post a new chapter today or tomorrow and hands are tied!

So how long do I wait? Do I break the tie myself? How would that work? I would be influencing the story if I decide. Is that okay?

Please. Someone. Vote. Otherwise I'm going to have to become the author, which wasn't the plan. Was it?

Sigh. I'm all confused. The point of this experiment was that I wouldn't have to think. And now I have to think.

It's a long weekend in Canada. Maybe when people dig themselves out of the fun of summertime weekends they'll remember they have a responsibility to my novel. Until then...I might have to break the tie! Hang in there. We'll have to see how this goes.

EDIT: The Internet is magic! I sent out an urgent request for a reader to weigh in and Nina came to the rescue within MINUTES. Hooray! The story will go on!