Friday, December 3, 2010

Is this really chapter 18 already?

Look, look, we've got 99 followers. Let's all do a dance when it flips to 100! Thanks for your help with the Spanish endearments. I really love "mi tesoro" or my treasure. And I'm taking notes on the other suggestions, too. I'm motivated now to write more scenes with Gabriel and Alex so I can use this good stuff.

No Gabriel and Alex today, though. A bit of a turning point for Leesie. Question, mull this over. Do you think this works from Michael's point of view? It's happening to Leesie, so it would be more natural for her to narrate, but it's Michael's turn and I like his reaction. The next part of the chapter will be a poem from Leesie that must be in her point of view.

And I discovered something important I've been leaving out. Leesie's engagement ring. Hello. We can't forget that. I'll have to go back and weave it in. This ring serves as an invested object. Great tool. It's got a whole history tied up with it, so whenever Michael looks at it or Leesie touches it or the sun hits the diamond, we're reminded of everything that it means to them. That's one thing that I always work hard to develop better when I revise. So for today, pretend like Leesie's ring has been hanging around her neck on Michael's chain shortly after they got to the apartment, okay?


Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/08
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            Dove this morning. Seth and Dani. She ran the show. Whatever else you say about her, she knows her stuff. Great with the people on the boat. Not just the guys. Even the kids and their moms.
            I’m off this afternoon to take Leesie to her appointment at the rehab place. She got all dolled up for the nurses. Pretty white dress and the hip white scarf twisted around her head—I hadn’t noticed the silver and white beads tied onto the fringe. Lots of makeup. The only color she’s got on is the bead and shell necklace she thought was Suki’s. It’s the first time Leesie’s worn it. Progress? I think so.
             “Ah, Sugar, look at you!” Her favorite nurse greets her with a hug. “So pretty! Better, no?”
            Leesie blinks, getting emotional. “No more pills.” She’s refused to even take over-the-counter pain pills since that same night.
            “Good for you.” Sugar pats her back, the quintessential mother.
            We wait for the doctor in a treatment room. She’s nervous. “What if it’s not fixed right?” She holds up her hand, twists it trying to see under cast and inside to the bones.
            I take her hand. “Don’t worry.”
            “What if he says I have to keep wearing the cast?”
            “Then my plans for tomorrow are wrecked.” I want to get her in the water so bad.
            “What if the ring doesn’t fit?” She’s been wearing it around her neck on my chain afraid she’ll lose it stuck on the top of her finger. [need to work this in earlier—I’ve totally spaced on all references to the ring. Fix that. How does it look with the other necklace? Hmmm.]
            “We’ll stop at a jeweler downtown and they can resize it.”
            “I don’t want to have fat fingers.”
            I bring her fingers to my lips and kiss them. “Your fingers are fine.”
            She tips her head to rest against my cheek. “I love you.”
            “I know.”
            She sticks her tongue out at me and the doctor walks in. Leesie gets cherry red and flustered, but the dude has his nose in her chart.
“Let’s see what we’ve got now.” He directs Leesie to perch on one of those doctor’s office exam tables. He checks how the wound on her head is healing. “Any headaches?”
“Only him.” Her eyebrows rise in my direction.
The doctor laughs. “How’s your nose?” His expert fingers press along the ridge of her nose, stop at the slight bump from the break. “Is it still tender here?”
“Not very.”
“Any nosebleeds?”
“Good.” He unlatches her sling and pulls it off.
The dress is bare on top, shows how tan she’s getting.
The doctor runs his fingers all along her collarbone—spends extra time around the break. “This has healed nicely. Have you been using your arm?”
“Some.” She looks down at the white skirt of her dress draped over her knees.
“A lot.” I fold my arms across my chest.
She glares.
“Good.” The doctor helps her put the sling back on. “Wear the sling as needed for another two weeks. But you can take it off for exercise. Swimming would be good. Are you doing your physio?”
“Yes. Every day.”
Physio and more. She works out until she hurts. I think she wants to be buff like Alex. I got to change her mind on that one.
The doctor finally gets to her hand. He rolls a wheelie table in front of her and takes an electric saw with a round whirling blade out of a drawer. “Rest your hand here.” He puts on safety glasses and revs up the saw. “Hold still.”
The blade whirrs and kicks up a  billow of white dust. It’s hot in that room. Airless. A vision of him cutting her hand right off invades. I breathe faster and faster like a newbie diver in panic mode. Choke on the dust.
Leesie stops the doctor with a touch on his shoulder. “Are you all right?”
I wipe my face. “Fine.”
“Good—look.” She holds her hand up so I can see her cast hangs on by a mere half inch width.
The doctor puts down the saw and opens a drawer. “I’ll use my scissors on that. Don’t want to slice open your hand.”
He really didn’t need to say that.
I take a deep breath, move closer for a better view. Snip. Snip. He pulls the cast off and her hand emerges.
Pale, clammy, greenish contrasted with her tan fingertips. She turns it over. Four faint scars curved to fit my fingernails emerge and memory blurs my vision. She’s holding my hand for the very first time, talking about angels, and I hang on to her so tight I hurt her.
She sees them, too. Remembers? I hope so. I need her to remember the power and conviction she bathed my wounds with that night. I wish I could bathe hers like that now.
Not my element.
Saltwater, though. Healed me up fine in the end. It should work for her, too. A good place to start.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The rest of Chapter 17

I've had a migraine all day, so I've been pretty useless instead of writing loads like I'd planned. I wrote this poem yesterday, so we're in luck--well blessed--I don't believe in luck--and I can get a post out today despite my overall uselessness. I took my last super-duper migraine pill, so I better call my doctor tomorrow.

I do need some help with this. I need a few Latin endearments that Gabriel would use for Alex. Suggestions?

And I wanted to tell you about a cool website I'm going to be a part of. It's called Dear Teen Me and just launched yesterday. They've signed up loads and loads of YA authors to write letters to their teenage selves and post them online for you to enjoy. There's a couple already up for you to check out. I'm scheduled in March--so that tells you how many authors are involved. That should be good timing. I hope to have CAYMAN SUMMER out by then. But that's not going to happen unless I scribble a lot more than I did today. No more headaches allowed.

POEM #??,

Alex sobs curled in a fetal
ball on the bathroom floor.
Gabriel picks her up,
tucks her in bed,
wipes her face
with tissues. “Come on,
now, my [need a Latin endearment here]

I relieve him of the box
of tissues. “Let her cry.”
His handsome face
shows doubt. “Are you sure?”
I nod and sniff, blinking
back my own tears that threaten
to break through the stone
I’ve buried my heart with.

Gabriel bends over and kisses
her forehead. “Goodnight, my Alex.”
He retreats elegantly, looking every bit
the millionaire playboy caught
in caring that’s morphing to love
with every tear Alex sheds.

Once he’s gone, she groans, hiccups.
“I can’t stop. I keep trying.
Gabriel saw me like this.
How hideous am I?”

I give her a fresh wad of
soft whiteness to staunch
the hot snot dripping down
her chin. “He loves you like this.”
“I wish.” She buries her face
in the tissues.

“Cry, Alex. Don’t stop.
Even I still believe
in the power of tears.”

She sobs and sobs,
mourning her hurt, her loss,
melting into new found
tenderness that tinges her tears
with sparks of joy,
flutters of hope
and the dawn of love.

In the morning, she meets
Dani with coolness, but doesn’t
tear all the hair out of her head
or stab her with the knife Alex
straps to her leg when she dives.
Gabriel whisks her away
for a day off in the sun, lazing
on beaches and sipping icy fruit froth.

Dani’s got double shifts
until hell freezes over
to make up for leaving
everybody high and dry.
Seth’s working with her.
The boys have the other boat—
which leaves me my Michael
to dote on all day long.

We leave the dishes undone
and the place a wreck,
drive down to the blow holes,
buy spicy grilled chicken
from a roadside stand,
eat it, sitting side by side
on the bare coral shore
as waves crash against the cliffs
and force water in the cracks
and up through the spouts
to spray white and pure
high into the air.

He picks up a drumstick.
“I’m sorry about last night.”
He bites and chews. “Good  thing
Alex needed you.”

Good thing?
Bad thing?
It used to be so easy
to spot which was which.
I’ve opened the door
to bad thing.
Crave it more and more
every day. Would it
be so bad? Or would
it be the best thing
that ever happened to me?

I lean my head against
his shoulder. “If we would
have gone down to
the beach—?”

His eyes move away
from the intensity of mine
and gather the spectacle
of the ocean’s purity.
“I don’t know, babe.
I don’t know.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chapter Seventeen - Finally from Michael

I think this will be the whole chapter. We haven't heard from Michael forever and it's really three scenes in this one dive log. This is more revised than what you've been getting lately. I had a whole glorious day to work today. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

We passed the 30K milestone today. I'm up to 200 manuscript pages. We've got 20+K more to go. I hoped to finish a draft before Christmas, but I don't think that will happen. I'm having too much fun and loving all the complications these new characters are straying into to rush the process. Hope you'll all stick with me--and invite your friends. We closing in on 100 followers! Who-hoo!



Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/06
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            Seth is supposed to pick Dani up at the airport tonight, but nobody’s seen them yet. I take Leesie out to dinner, and when we get back, Alex has Gabriel in the room. There’s a note to Leesie on the door. Come back at one.
            I steer Leesie out of the apartment before she hears anything. She’s never been around stuff like this. I don’t like it. “How long has that been brewing?”
            “Since Kai left. Gabriel’s good at comfort.”
            “But not commitment.” I put my arm around Leesie and we head down the stairs.
            “Alex thinks she can change that.”
            My hand glides down to Leesie’s waist. “He seems to care about her. You should have heard him tear into Seth when we were cleaning up after this morning’s dives. Not like him at all.”
            Leesie slips her arm out of her sling and wraps her fingers around mine. “He’s a classic hero. All he need was a damsel in distress.”
            I jingle the keys in my pocket. “You want to go for a drive.”
            She wraps me closer, puts my hand on her stomach. “Nope.”
            We wander across the beach and down to the dock. She wants to make out, but we need to talk.
            I kiss her fingers. “So Alex and Gabriel? Is that going to be awkward?”
            She runs the fingers of her casted hand through my hair. “I guess I could take the fifth cot in the living room.”
            “No way. It’s not that serious. They’re just messing around tonight. He won’t move in with her.”
            Her eyebrows rise. “You don’t know Alex.”
            I sling both arms around her back. “You don’t know Gabriel.”
            “She got your work schedules changed up so they’re diving together—every shift.” She sticks out her tongue at me.
            I wrinkle my nose back at her. “She’s so not his type.”
            She leans in close. “But she needs him.” Her breath tickles my ear. “That’s intoxicating.”
            I close my eyes and inhale her cocoanut closeness. I miss her sweet banana mango shampoo. “So what do you think we should do?”
            She kisses me. “Make out.”
            Her mouth is on mine again. “But nothing.”
            We kiss for awhile standing on the edge of the dock with the soft night surge swirling against the floating wood and the deep starry night for a backdrop. It’s sweet—slow, unhurried, neither of us going anywhere, pressuring each other to do anything else but hold each other and trade love with our lips.
            I rest my cheek against her head. “You can’t stay in that apartment all summer. It’s not good for you.”
            Her face gets hot. “Maybe I’ll learn something.”
            I grasp her face between my hands and tilt her head back. “I don’t want you to learn anything.”
            Her shoulders rise in a hopeless shrug. “I have to learn sometime.”
            “I’ll find a new place for you to stay.”
            “Without you?” Her lips find my neck. “No way.” She looks down at our feet—mine on either side of hers. “Let’s buy our own place.”
            She pulls me in close, kisses me, won’t let me talk.
            I turn away from her lips. “But we can’t get married.”
            “Yes”—she kisses me—“we can.” Another kiss. “It’s easy.” She goes in for another kiss, but I pull out of her reach. “I looked it all up. We could get married tomorrow—well Monday if I didn’t have my appointment.”
            I study her happy face. “Did you plan thing whole Dani thing out? Did you manipulate everything?”
            She laughs. “I’m not that smart. But I am in the way for Alex and Gabriel. We don’t have much choice.”
            “We can’t get married.”
            She kisses me, gets my tongue.
            “Stop it, babe. I promised your dad I’d take you home first.”
            “You what?” The smile drains out of her face. She releases me, turns her back, squats down and stares into the dark water.
            “When we talked on the phone—I promised him.” I hunker down beside her.
            She turns her glare on me. “I’m never going home.”
            I lean over and catch her lips. “If you want to marry me, you will.”
            She lies back, draws me down on top of her. “We can just shack up together. I don’t care.” Her legs wrap around me.
            I push up off her. “Nope.” I get on my feet and offer her my hand.
            She won’t take it, just lies there looking up at me. “Then what are we going to do?”
            “Go back up to the apartment and disappoint Alex and Gabriel.”

            The clock reads 1:52 AM when I usher Leesie in through the apartment door. All the guys—including Gabriel—mill around the kitchen and living room drinking beer, waiting for Dani and Seth.
            “Shhh!” Gabriel puts a finger up to his lips. “Alex is asleep.”
            Cooper chucks a pillow at him. “Worn out, eh?”
            Gabriel catches the pillow, frowns. “She was distressed.”
            Brock sets his beer down. “And you took her mind off her troubles?”
            Ethan looks up from soccer reruns on TV. “She does not need another rascal breaking her wee heart.”
            “I’m well aware of that.” Gabriel lets the pillow drop from his hands.
            Cooper stands. “Then what the hell are you doing?”
            Gabriel rifles his fingers through his black chick-bait hair. “She wants me.” He rotates, gathers everyone’s eyes. “What am I supposed to do? Turn her down? Humiliate her?”
            “You’re taking advantage of her.” Cooper gets right in Gabriel’s face. “Not cool, dude.”
            Gabriel puts his hand flat on Cooper’s chest and pushes him back. “I’m trying to make her happy.” He sits down on the couch.
            Brock cocks his head. “You care if she’s happy?”
            Gabriel’s face softens. “I do. I care.” He see’s Alex’s face peeking from a crack in her and Leesie’s bedroom door, turns, and addresses her. “I do care very much.”
            Alex slips through the door, crosses the room to Gabriel, climbs on his lap, and hides her face against his neck. Gabriel’s arms go around her, protecting, a hand strokes her head, and he kisses her forehead.
            Leesie smiles, goes to the fridge and takes out butter and eggs. “I need brownies. Anybody want to help?”
            I crack the eggs, Leesie melts the butter and chocolate on the stove. Brock turns on the oven. And Cooper and Ethan measure the flour and sugar.
            A half hour later, we’re crowded around the table, eating hot, gooey brownies—same recipe that she made when I met with those jerk missionaries back at BYU.  The guys have traded their beer for milk. The apartment door opens and a half-drunk Seth leads in a very drunk blonde girl spilling out of her fuchsia halter top and matching mini skirt. Dani.
            Alex gives her a brutal, loathing glare and stalks into her and Leesie’s bedroom.
            Gabriel stands up. “Hello, Dani.” He speaks in a solemn voice and goes after Alex.
            Dani giggles and punches Seth in the arm. “You’re right, Sethie. They all want me back. “ She stumbles. Seth catch her—stumbles, too.
            Cooper and Ethan leap to help them. “It’s cool, Dani,” Cooper says. “We’re glad you’re back.”
            “Liars.” The giggle dissolves to tears. “She should be mad at Kai—not me. It’s his fault.”
            Brock pats her arm. “If you promise to make this pathetic bloke happy again, we’ll all be thrilled with your return.”
            She beams at Seth. “So it’s true? He can’t live without me?”
            Seth plants a loud smack on the side of her face. “You’re never getting away from me again.”
            She kisses him, and Brock and Cooper hustle them into their room and shut the door.
            Leesie leaves the table with the dirty plates balanced on her broken left hand.
            I gather up the dirty glasses and join her.
            She dumps her sling on the counter and whispers so only I can hear. “Dyed hair. Long, though. Pretty.”
            “And those”—she rolls her eyes dramatically—“weren’t real.”
            “I didn’t look.” I concentrate on scrubbing the plate in my hand.
            Leesie elbows me. “Yes, you did.”
            “They weren’t so big.”
            “So you admit it?” She pulls the sprayer gadget out and rinses the plates I washed.
            I nuzzle the side of her head. “Sorry. I won’t ever look at those again.”
            “Or any other girl’s frontal zone.” She turns to me holding the sprayer like a weapon.
            I hold up my hands. “For the rest of my life?”
            “Yes. This is all you get.” She drops her hands to I can assess my fate.
            I put my hands on her waist and whisper, “You know I’m a small breast guy.”
            “There’s no such thing.” She glances down at her white T-shirt. “Should I get them fixed? Look like that?”
            “No way, babe.” I hug her. “I want the real thing.”
            Leesie still has the sprayer in her hand and somehow it gets pressed and soaks my back. I wrestle it away from her, making sure I douse her front.
            She hides against my chest and whispers, “Do you want to go back out to the beach?”
            “Yeah.” It’s too late, we’re too tired, too turned on, and feeling her up is another huge Mormon sin, but we’ll just roll around in the sand—make out some more—that’s it. That's probably sin, too, but I don't care tonight.
            Leesie takes my hand, walks backward to the door so I get a good view of her wet T-shirt, pulls me forward.
            Gabriel opens the bedroom door. “Leesie?” he calls, “Alex needs you.”
            The teasing excitement drains out of her face. “Sure. I’m coming.” She kisses me goodnight and disappears. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Next scene and a surprise twist! Chapter 16, part two

One of the joys of writing is when the story takes over and things happened that you didn't plan. We're getting into the dangerous middle reaches of the novel when plots tend to sag and sink. Something has to happen to keep the action rolling. Michael and Leesie are hopelessly devoted to each other. Leesie isn't in pain or suicidal or trying to seduce him. Something is looming, but it's too soon. What do I do?

True confession: I had absolutely no idea. Then Seth and Leesie got talking and came up with him emailing Dani. Ah-hah! The plot thickens. I can't wait to write the next scene!

Here's a chat between Leesie and Kim. Michael narrates next. Get ready for a doozy tomorrow.



Kimbo69 says:  I can’t believe you told him to email the slut who ran off with your roommate’s boyfriend.
Leesie327 says: I know. I was possessed by something crazy. If Alex finds out I gave Seth the idea, I’m toast. I’ll be sleeping on the sidewalk.
Kimbo69 says: Alex already knows about it?
Leesie327 says:  Oh, yeah. They all do.
Kimbo69 says:  Seth told? She must have written back.
Leesie327 says: If a guy emailed you that he loves you and life is hell without you, what would you do?
Kimbo69 says: Send him a nice reply saying I’m sorry?
Leesie327 says: That’s a start.
Kimbo69 says:  Call him and beg his forgiveness?
Leesie327 says:  You’re getting warmer.
Kimbo69 says:  Try to see him so I can convince him with my personal charms?
Leesie327 says: How about fly back to Cayman and move back in with him as if nothing ever happened.
Kimbo69 says:  Seth is that much of a sucker?
Leesie327 says: It’s what he wants more than anything. He took her for granted until she was gone. He won’t do that again.
Kimbo69 says: Is Alex ballistic?
Leesie327 says: It got pretty ugly when Seth told her Dani’s coming “home” this weekend.
Kimbo69 says: What about the guy?
Leesie327 says: Kai? He’s staying in St. Lucia. Dani caught him cheating on her. She says he cheated on Alex with a bunch of other girls—not just her.
Kimbo69 says: Alex is well rid of the creep.
Leesie327 says: She sees that, but not enough to welcome Dani back into the nest.
Kimbo69 says: She and Seth should find another place to live.
Leesie327 says: No chance of that happening. Seth’s kicking Gabriel out of his room to make way for Dani.
Kimbo69 says: So where’s he going?
Leesie327 says: On a cot in the living room, I guess. Alex would like him to move in with her, but I’m in the way.
Kimbo69 says: Is she making any progress with him?
Leesie327 says: I think so. He got all protective when Seth announced Dani was moving back. He and Alex went down to the beach together—didn’t come back until late.
Kimbo69 says: Total soap opera.
Leesie327 says: Right. Since I caused the problem, I’ve found the solution.
Kimbo69 says: What?
Leesie327 says:  I looked up getting married on Cayman. If you’re a resident, you have to go to the registrar’s office and they post a notice in public that you are going to marry. People have two weeks to object. Crazy, huh.
Kimbo69 says: Like bans in Jane Austen novels?
Leesie327 says: If you’re getting married in a church, they still do that here.
Kimbo69 says: What’s your status there? Are you like an illegal immigrant?
Leesie327 says: I’m a visitor. I can stay six months. Michael has a temporary work permit. So we’re not officially residents. Maybe he is. I can’t tell. I think we can get married using a non-resident permit.
Kimbo69 says: How does this help the situation?
Leesie327 says: Non-residents just have to pay $250, prove their age and citizenship, and they get a certificate. It’s easy. Fast. You can just go to the office and get it.
Kimbo69 says: You’re really going to do it?
Leesie327 says: I just have to convince Michael all this drama isn’t good for me. Moving into our own condo would be the only option. He’d do it if we’re married.
Kimbo69 says: Be careful. You’ll end up convincing him to buy you a ticket home. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Leesie327 says: I don’t think so. He loves it here as much as I do. I think he’ll work here as long as they’ll let him. That’s something like eight years. I’m already home.
Kimbo69 says:  But you have a family.
Leesie327 says: He’ll be my family. He’s all I need.
Kimbo69 says: What about your mom’s needs? What about your Dad—and Stephie?
Leesie327 says: This way they’re safe. I can’t hurt them anymore.
Kimbo69 says: That’s stupid. Twisted. Selfish and mean.
Leesie327 says: Me.
Kimbo69 says: No. It’s not you. Not the girl I know.
Leesie327 says: But it’s who I’ll be forever now. I’m scared for Michael. What will I do to him?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday, oh and Chapter 16

It was so hard to get to work today. Sitting in front of a computer is a dangerous place to be on Cyber Monday--especially if you love to shop online like me. Yikes. Big confession--I procrastinated a lot checking out those deals. I mean Ann Taylor--40% off and free shipping--sorry, but that needs attention.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Our kids made it home from Utah despite the blizzard. Phew! Their flight was twelve hours or so late, but whose counting? They got a hotel room and got a few hours of sleep. It was very fun to have the whole family together. Massive games of LOTR Risk, D&D, and Rock Band Three. And a shopping trip to buy my daughter a fancy black dress. But now the house is back to normal, and it's time to get to work.

This isn't a particularly poetic poem. It's really just dialogue broken up into short lines. I was hypercritical through the first two pages of rough draft, but then I got into it and stopped picking at myself. It needs to be a poem, and it needs to be a dialogue. Fixing it is what revision is for. And I've learned to accept that every Leesie poem will be "verse," but not always a true poem.

It feels good to be back in the saddle again. Hope you enjoy it!



Seth’s off this AM,
drunk again last night.
“Can you wash him?”
Alex says through her toothbrush.
I pull a bleck-are-you-crazy face. “What?”
She spits. “Watch him—hang out until we”—
she pauses to rinse—“all get back at lunch.”
“What would I do with him?”
I can see Seth through our half-open bedroom door,
awake earlier than he needs to be, turning his nose
up at bacon and eggs.
Alex rinses her toothbrush. “Keep him
away from the beer.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
She gives me a don’t-be-this-stunned-this-early
grimace. “Feed him coffee.”
“I don’t do coffee.”
“It’s a machine, hon. Already done.”
Me serving coffee? To hung-over Seth?
What a joke. Maybe I’ll try some.
Or join the guy in a couple of beers.
Michael won’t be around to stop me.

The apartment empties out.
Michael’s the last to go. He kisses
me good-bye and gives Seth a wave.
Friendly? Weird.
I don’t want Michael to walk out
that door and leave me behind
with Mr. Broken Down Boozer.
But he does.

I give Seth his coffee, disappear
into the bathroom, take too
long in the shower.
Loud knocking on the outer door
penetrates my steamy retreat.
Somebody’s yelling like there’s a fire.
I turn the water off, wrap fast in a towel,
drip my way to the door, don’t open it.
“What?” I yell at the wood.
“You all right in there?”
Seth’s yelling, angry? Still pounding.
The knocking stops. “Oh, sorry.”
“And you?” Too rude not to play
my part in this strange ballet.
“Perfect. Can I get dressed now?”

I put on my yellow dress, sandals,
the baseball cap that matches,
open the door, peak out—

Seth’s sitting in the living room
mess of pulled out couch and unmade cots
sipping a beer.
I begin to withdraw, hide, renege on my promise,
but I push myself forward instead, march
up to him and grab the can. “Alex says
no beer this morning.”
He holds out his hand.
“Just let me finish that one.
I don’t want to waste it.”
I sniff the contents—reeking nastiness—
like grain that’s gone bad in the elevator—
fake a smile. “That’s okay. I’ll drink it.”
He’s out of his char, lunging at me, grabbing
the can—dumps it down the sink.
“No way, girl. Michael would kill me.”
My forehead folds into ugly creases.
“What has he told you guys about me?”
Seth stares at the retreating golden
liquid and mumbles, “That you don’t
drink beer, and you’re a—”
The guy actually blushes.
I reach over and turn on the faucet.
“What’s going on here?”
He pulls the spray gadget free
and squirts the sink clean.
“Michael asked me to—“
“Watch me?” I flip off the water. “That’s rich.”
“Alex asked me to—”
Seth’s eyebrows arch and I start
to see what Dani saw in him.
He grins. “Babysit me?”
Heads shake. Nervous laughs.
“We’re officially pathetic.”
He crushes the empty beer can.
“Dangerously psychotic.”
I take the can and trash it.
We both blurt,
“Who do they think they are?”
He yells, “Jinx.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“You can’t talk.”
“Nobody’s jinxed me since—”
Phil the Pill. A lump gets
stuck in my throat just
above my heart.
Seth’s got a pained look on his face, too.
“Damn. Sorry. Dani was goofy like that—
way into kid’s stuff—jinx and slug bugs
and—” His voice breaks. “Crap.”
I look down at the white linoleum I need
to scrub. “Sorry to remind you.”
He takes a minute to get control.
“No one mentions her—I hate that.
It’s like she’s dead or something.”
I close my eyes tight. “That would be worse.”
“Maybe not.”
“Trust me.”

We walk up the highway to East End’s
tiny grocery, buy hot dogs, buns,
and a foil pain full of easy-light mini
charcoal that we light on the beach.
I focus on the red glow creeping
through the miniature grill, glance
up at Seth, catch his eyes.
“Did you love Dani?”

His eyes drop down to the caged fire.
“I thought it was just for kicks—until
she left.”
I touch his hand. “You should tell
her that.”
He jerks his hand away from me.
“How? I don’t know where the hell she is.”
I speak slowly, not sure what or why,
just let the words tumble out.
“But what if she misses you?
What if she’s sick of Kai?
What if she made a horrible mistake?
What if she loves you?”

He searches the horizon for returning
boats, stirs the reddening charcoal.
“The office probably has her address.”
I nod, smile. “Don’t you have her email?”
“Of course.”
“What are you waiting for?”