Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back To Life - Excerpt of Chapter 1

Back To Life

Avon Inspire (September 16, 2008)

"Lindsay, come on, we're going to be late!" Haley pounds on my front door like there's a fire. Haley does most things in life like there's a fire these days. I'm certain it has something to do with her chocolate frosting fetish, but I have no proof. While I slide my last earring in, I unlatch the door and let it creep open.

"Calm down. Everyone here is eighty; do you want to wake the devil?"

"It's nine-thirty." She rolls her eyes, acting more like─well, more like me than her." "His minions are already up, eating their cat chow or chicken livers or whatever disgusting things that smell up your open-air hallways. This place reminds me of the lion house at the San Francisco Zoo! It's a vegan's nightmare."

"All right. Must you be so dramatic? Get in here." I grab her by the arm and pull her inside.

"It's not like I'll wake them, you know." She drops her purse on the entry table. "It's daylight. Everyone's going to bed, probably closing the top on their caskets as we speak." Haley takes her sweater and drapes it across her face like Dracula.

After living here for a year and a half, Haley doesn't have a lot of heart for my neighbors. I can't say I blame her. The Old women (former actresses, most of them are the very definition of curmudgeon, as if life has done nothing but kick them and all they can do now is kick back.

Personally, I admire them. It must be absolutely freeing to say and do as you please. Ans at the expense of their good name, they live the lives they want. Granted, it's a little lonely for my taste, but that doesn't mean I can't see the value in it.

I step out of the foyer to pick up a newspaper. I notice a few eyes peering at me from behind slit curtains: The only sign of life in this place, other than the nine million cats, is the sliding window coverings. It's like there's always an imaginary puppet show and I'm the star.

I slam the door, shuddering as I do so. "Maury must be on commercial. I'm obviously the only entertainment."

"Look at it this way. It's like having your own security firm. As long as they can still dial 911, you're safe."

"No, it's like living in a costume shop. The blinking red eyes follow me…And just when I get that cold, prickly feeling on the back of my neck, one of those blasted cats will rub up against my leg and scare the life out of me!"

Haley laughs. "Now who is being dramatic? They have a sixth sense. Instead of dead people, cats see cat-hating people. Your hatred of them is like a call of affection. Sort of like a signal to that special guy you do not want to date. Maybe you should try to pet on."

It's eerie living here since Ron died. I suppose part of it is my own Tell-Tale Heart, throbbing with guilt. Maybe that's why I'm so aware of the neighbors. Chances are they've done some regrettable things in their long lives, but it doesn't seem to bother them But I'd love to know the actual odds. What are the chances that these guiltless women would all move here? Or that I'd be in their midst? My unfortunate providence knows no bounds. If indeed it is providence, and not divine penance. They say what goes around, comes around─and it certainly doesn't leave.

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