Monday, November 15, 2010

Here's Michael's take on dinner--Chapter 12, part two

Wow, we're closing in on a hundred followers. Cool. Thanks for spreading the word, everybody. To prove how grateful I am, here's that scene you've all been waiting for. Yikes! It's a doozy.


Dive Buddy:           
Date:  05/16
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site: Rum Point
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            Alex and Leesie meet us for dinner at Rum Point. Funky place on the north side with painted signs pointing to Liverpool, Russia, India. Good beach. Restaurant on the sand. Only gets crowded if there’s a cruise ship in port. Today’s Saturday so we’re safe from the masses.
            I nod hello to Alex and then get a load of Leesie getting out of the car. She’s got a white scarf wrapped on her head like a halo. She’s wearing a new white dress that shows her shoulders and back—too much in the front when she looses that arm sling. After two weeks here, she’s getting tan. Looks good.
            “You like it?” She spins around when she sees me. The full skirt flairs and falls back against her bare legs.
            Brock and Ethan come up behind me. “Nice.”
            Leesie gets pink, and I put my arm around her exposed shoulders and guide her to the big round table where Gabriel and his pickup hangs with Cooper and the chick’s friend. I wanted Leesie to be too tired when they called to set this up. No luck.
            “This is a first,” she says so only I can hear.
            “I don’t think we’ve ever gone to a real restaurant together.”
            I pull out her chair and whisper as she sits. “Only your stupid Cougar Eat.”
            “That doesn’t count.”
            Ethan takes the chair next to her. “What doesn’t count.”
            She gets even pinker. “Nothing.”
            I squish into the seat next to Leesie. We’ve got eight around a table for six. Kind of close quarters. Nobody seems to care.
            Alex slips into a chair in between Gabriel and Ethan. “Where’s Seth?”
            Ethan shakes his head. “Couldn’t get him to come.”
            Brock grabs a chair from the table behind us and shoves it in between me and Cooper. That makes us nine. Brock runs his hands through his hair. “He’ll be hitting the bars again.”
            Alex leans forward with her elbows on the table. “And you let him?”
            “We can’t hold his hand forever.”
            Gabriel clears his throat and introduces the women but their names go in one ear and out the other. Blonde One and Blonde Two. Both made-up and slinky. Gabriel’s is hotter, but Cooper’s is hungry.
            While I study the menu, Leesie swallows a couple of pills with the ice water the waiter brought before we arrived.
            Blonde Two’s been staring at Leesie. “What happened to you?”
            Blonde One tears her eyes off Gabriel long enough to give us a glance. She assesses me like a piece of meat and then rests her critical gaze on Leesie.
            Alex leans around Gabriel, and spits, “Car accident,” into the chick’s face.
            Blonde One backs off. “Too bad.” The blondes go back to seducing Cooper and Gabriel.
            Alex sticks her tongue out behind her hand.
            Silent sparks fly back and forth between her and Leesie. Raised eyebrows. Squints. Stares. Maybe they didn’t know these chicks would be here.
I hide in the menu. I haven’t eaten here for awhile. I turn to Brock. “What’s good these days?”
            Brock peals his eyes off the two chicks with his room-mates. “I like the crab.”
            Crab. No way can I order crab. It’s been a year and half since that crabfest on Dive Festiva, but eating it would seem like a sacrilege.  
            “Crab?” Blonde Two pipes up. “Sounds good.”
            Most of them order it. I order shrimp. Safer. I’d hate to freak here. Leesie gets a salad. She doesn’t say much while we eat. Her eyes keep going to Gabriel and Cooper and those chicks who are falling out of their dresses and giggling at everything Cooper says. Gabriel wears his superior smile. They all crack crab and dip it in butter. Blonde Two feeds Cooper with buttery fingers. He sucks on them staring down her dress.
Leesie’s eyes dart to Alex when Blonde One leans over and plants her buttery lips smack on Gabriel’s mouth, then excuses herself. Gabriel follows her down the beach.
I got to bail. The crab is getting to me, and I don’t want Leesie around this crap. “Let’s go. You’re tired.”
She yawns and nods. “Thanks, Alex.” She touches her head wrap. “It was fun.”
Alex gives her thumbs up. “Any time.”
“Sorry about tonight.” Leesie glances down the beach.
Alex shrugs. “There will be other nights.”
Leesie leans hard against me on the way to the RAV4.
I shift my arm to support her better. “Too much. Too soon.”
She doesn’t agree, but lets me lift her into the passenger’s seat.  When I get in the other side, she holds out her arms and says, “Do you like me like this?”
I turn the key. “You look like an angel.”
She pulls a face. “Guess I shouldn’t have bought white.”
It’s an hour drive back to the apartment. She’s sound asleep by the time we get there. I carry her upstairs, lay her on her bed, slip off her sandals and scarf, stroke her soft furry head, tuck her in—dress and all. And she’s still sound asleep.
I tiptoe out of her room, shut the door, throw myself down on my cot, wondering how I can get the thought of Leesie in bed alone in the next room out of my head when Isadore attacks.
Crab legs. Giant ones. Walk through her waves. Grasp me with their claws. Pull me off the deck of the boat and down into the water. I fight, choke, sink, surface, kick, thrash, call out to my mother, “Save me. Save me,” until a small, pale hand shakes my shoulder. “Mom?”
It’s Leesie, glowing white kneeling on the floor beside my cot like I dreamed her every night back in Tekoa fighting Isadore nightmares in my dad’s old room under that quilt Gram made out of his old jeans. I groan and lift her into bed with me, clutch tight to her reality.
“It’s okay. I’m here.” She kisses away my terror, presses her body to mine.
Instinct takes over. I shift to get her body under me, and flimsy cot we’re lying on collapses.
She’s on her feet, pulling me out of the wreckage. “Let’s go to my room,” she whispers. “Alex is cool. I’ll put a note on the door.”
I stumble after her.
In her room, she turns her back to me. “Can you help?” She can’t reach the zipper that holds the flowing white fabric around her slender shape.
I press my face into her neck, fumble to find the zipper, grasp it, pull it down—stop. “No, Leese.” I step back. “No.”
I get out of her room. The apartment. Try to sleep in the back seat of the RAV. Beat myself up for getting so close. Freak. That can’t happen again. Freak. Freak. Freak.
I should go back up there.
Tell her to her face.
I get out of the RAV.
I know exactly why I want to go back up there and it’s not to tell her, “No.”
I stare at myself in the black reflection of the RA’s window. Alex’s car pulls into the parking lot. She gets out and opens the passenger door. Seth falls out on her. No sign of the other guys.
I sprint across the lot. “Can I help?”
I lift Seth off her.
“Thanks.” Alex ducks under Seth’s left arm.
I take the right side and get my arm around his back so I can half carry, half drag him up the stairs. “What happened to Brock and Ethan?”
“The bar we found him in was having a whisky shot contest. Did you know Scots invented whisky?”
“Ethan couldn’t resist the challenge. Brock will get him home.”
We make it up all three flights—freak Alex is strong—and dump Seth in his room on his bed. I trip over Cooper’s cot trying to get out of there. He sleeps in there with Seth. Gabriel, Brock, and Ethan sleep out in the front room with me.
“Thanks,” Alex grabs my arm and guides me out of the messy room. She closes. “You’re a lifesaver.” She glances at the closed door of her and Leesie’s room. “You know, if you and Leesie want the room, I don’t mind roughing it with the  Neanderthals.”
I hold up my hands and shake my head. “No. We wouldn’t dream of kicking you out of your room.”
“I thought you’d be in there tonight for sure. I told Leesie you guys could have it.”
“Don’t do that again.”
“What’s with you two? You’re engaged aren’t you?”
“Long story.”
She flicks on the kitchen light. “I’m not tired.”
We sit up at the table drinking milk and eating Leesie’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. I tell Alex about my parents, how me and Leese met, the whole Mormon thing, Suki, the accident, Phil. It feels good to spill my guts to her. She’s freaking easy to talk to.
Her eyes move from her glass of milk to me to Leesie’s closed door. “So you guys have never—?”
“Not until we’re married.”
Her eyebrows lift. “And you’re going to convert to Mormonism?”
“No.” Freak. I hadn’t thought of that.
“She’ll marry you now without that?”
“Yeah. I don’t know. Everything’s messed up since the accident.”
She studies me hard—like she’s trying to see the gears churning in my thick head. “It’s not fair to her if you don’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You said she wouldn’t marry you before because you aren’t a Mormon. If you marry her now, you’re taking advantage of her tragedy. That’s so wrong.”
“Who are you to judge me?”
“Do you know what I’ve done for her? How hard all this is?”
“It doesn’t look easy for her, either.”
She doesn’t say it, but I can tell exactly what she’s thinking. “I should take her home?”
She studies the cookie crumbs on the table, mashes them with her thumb and licks it. “Probably.”
I shake my head. “She’d hate me forever.”
“If it’s right—”
I bow my head until it rests on the table. “I don’t know what’s right anymore.”
Alex puts her hand on my shoulder. “I think you do.”
She slips behind that door where Leesie’s probably seething mad at me, and I bend back the legs of my stupid cot until it supports me again. I fix the blankets, lie on it—waiting for the crash—pretend I’m asleep when Brock and Ethan stumble in laughing and cursing and peeing all over Leesie’s clean bathroom. I want to jump up and starting swinging, smashing, bashing their heads together. Instead, I roll over and the freaking cot collapses again.
Brock and Ethan stand there joking while I throw the useless piece of crap off the balcony. I grab a pillow and a sheet and fling myself on the lounge chair outside. My mind races round and round.
How could I be so stupid?
How could I think this would work?
This stupid apartment.
Running away.
Me and Leesie.
Getting married.
We’re nineteen. Legal, but—come one. Get real.
And the Mormon thing.
Crap. Stupid Alex.
She is so damn right.


  1. Sorry for all the typos. I don't have time to fix them. You get the drift, right? Just fill in the missing the's for me in your mind, okay?

  2. I LOVED IT. Wow. This was great! And it was even better from Michael's point of view! I was waiting to hear his side of things. Both Leesie and Michael have their internal struggles, and now Leesie has a way of showing hers. She's becoming a Michael in a way. And Michael's becoming Leesie in a way. Sooooo good.

  3. Oh, poor Leesie! I completely understand Michael saying no still, of course he would, and I know Leesie's in a bad place, but his rejection over and over has got to be hard. That's got to be tough on her confidence, lol. But Michael is awesome.
    It ends so badly though! :( Sucks. Does Michael HAVE to become Mormon? In the Morman faith, can Mormans only marry other Mormans? It seems so sad. Especially as Michael is fully supportive of her faith, and would be happy for Leesie to bring up their future kids as Mormons, as said in Unbroken Connection. Is that not good enough? :( Oh, it's heart breaking!

  4. t No no, Michael! You and Leesie are what's right. Poor guy. He's in moral agony for such a big part of the three novels! Not that Leesie has it easy either, like Alex said. So much drama! I'm loving it!
    I think the scene works rather well in Michael's POV. He focussed on the blondes, being a guy and all, which was awesome, 'cause he didn't care about them at all! Unlike Brock lol. Gotta love a one-woman man. But poor, poor Seth. And ew Dani and Kai! Grr. I'd like to give them a piece of my mind.
    And YES! Her faith is still between them. I was wondering when this particular bit of conflict would resurface, since it was such a big part of both their lives before Phil died. I love how Alex is now the voice of reason. She's a great friend, eh? And poor Michael. He has it rough!

  5. Great chapter!!!! I hope if Michael converts it is because of his own choices, not because of Leesie, if that makes sense.
    Keep up the great job!

  6. WOW. Definitely a doozy! I can't help but love lots of drama, though. :) Just out of curiosity, were the pills Leesie took the pain medication? Oh, and I love the scene in Michaels point of view, although in Leesie's next poem I'm dying to hear her take on it. This scene makes me love and hate Alex. She's knocking some good sense into Michael, but also knocking some unwanted sense into us that he should probably take her home.... oh, the drama! :)

  7. I love seeing this struggle that Michael is going through and how he is really starting to think things through. Can't wait to see where it goes from here!

  8. Questions . . . yes, the pills were her pain pill...I should make that clear. And Mormons can marry non-Mormons, but not in the temple. You have to be a Mormon in good standing to go to the temple. We believe marriages in the temple are for this life and the next--that couples and their children are sealed together forever, "time and all eternity," that's why Leesie so desperately wanted Michael to become a Mormon. Now Leesie feels like she's evil and could never go to the temple, so she just wants to be with Michael. A lot of Mormons do marry outside the church. Many of those marriages don't last. Some do. And sometimes the spouses end up joining the church often after decades! I look up to those sisters who stay faithful and are examples to their husbands. It's not easy to do.

  9. Oh my goodness that was intense. I love how Michael is not giving in, even if it's literally killing him. I'm so sad for Leesie. This is just not her. Oh, and I'm sad that things are I'm sure going to get worse..but I think it is good for both of them, because they are both living in this pretend world. As much as I HATE to say it, Leesie probably needs to go home. So she can find her true self again. And Michael, also needs to figure out who he is and who he wants to be..I'm hoping, wishing, Praying he will find his way to the gospel somehow....However, I don't think he can do it while he is with Leesie. I mean while they are living together. They still HAVE to be together though, somehow.

  10. I HOPE they don't break up AGAIN.

  11. Why isn't it Dive Buddy: Leesie,
    Weather Conditions: Hot?
    I always like to know what to look for in a dive log. Should I be anticipating a scene change in the near future? Way to go Alex.

  12. I never know what will end up in a dive log until after I write it. Filling in those details is something I do when I revise.

  13. Thanks for the explanation, Angela. Now I partly wnt Michael to become a Mormon, and partly don't. I do so Leesie gets the happy ending she wants, and don't because... if the choice came down to no Michael or atheist Michael, I know what I'd want Leesie to choose, I'd want their love to be enough. I think it's because I'm an atheist I can put myself in Michael's shoes, and I really wouldn't want to be in that position. It would just be so tough.

  14. You're right, Jo. It is a very tough position. And it's so hard to see the other side when intense emotions are involved. I've had readers write to me and share that they've faced the exact same choice. And it came close to destroying them. I guess the ultimate question is--is love enough? I'm not sure if any two people would answer that the same way for the same reasons.

  15. That is such a good point! And I guess now, after reading that, whatever the outcome, I guess I'll be happy - if it works with atheist Michael, if it works with Michael becoming Morman, or if it doesn't work at all (even though that wouls suck a bit), because each outcome is realisic because, as you say, real people would have different answers, and Michael and Leesie could be any of those people.

    Ooooh! I'm sure you have some idea of how the book ends already, but if it wouldn't take long to do, is there any chance, as something for your website maybe, we could have the other alternate endings? It would be great to read to the outcome of all the choices - Leesie's on whether she'll have Michael as an atheist or not, and Michael if he can become a Mormon, or would walk away. That might possibly be too much work, so maybe not. But it''s nice to kind of imagine the different ways things could pan out.

    Oooh, I do go on! sorry!

  16. This scene flows like pure poetry. And I was tensed throughout, not knowing what was gonna happen.