Beliefnet
You Can Sit With Us

Thought I’d share the beginning excerpt from my book ( in rewrites now), Just Relax. It’s suspense fiction. Premise based around the Metoo movement. Set in Winter Park.

 

 

You are not hidden, never a moment you were forgotten. You are not hopeless, though you’ve been broken, your innocence stolen. I hear your whisper underneath your breath. I hear your SOS, your SOS. I will send out an army to find you. In the middle of the darkest night, it’s true, I will rescue you.-Lauren Daigle

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain- Emily Dickinson

August 8th

Blair opens her email, thirty seven new emails since she left the office. She sighs, nervously scanning down the page, nothing from him, relieved only more retail ads. She has finally learned to politely decline when a store asks her for her email address. Though, she opens the Daily Harvest to see what new recipes they are offering for the month of August. Avocado and Cucumber chilled soup. “No thank you, delete.” It’s Wednesday, August 8th but to Blair its Groundhog Day. The same, every damn day the same, with one major exception. Her insides rattle over the one tragic night she didn’t see coming. July 11th to be exact, the night she doesn’t remember but knows she was raped by him. She gets up between 6 and 6:30 a.m., makes coffee, reads something inspirational to keep her forging ahead, sits in silence allowing herself to dream, still as the sun’s morning glow appears. If the sun and earth can stay suspended, she knows anything is possible although there seems to be a great deal against her over these past couple of months. Each new day she wonders is this the day everything will change? She then forces her weary body off of the couch to get to work by 8:30. Blair is the office manager at Goldie, a boutique advertising firm in Winter Park. Her boss easygoing, confident in her abilities to negotiate with vendors, renew contracts, research, and vet potential clients along with endless no brainer tasks. Blair could do this job in her sleep. She is not challenged but she is respected and to her that counts more now than ever before. Most of her friends continuously complain that their boss is a pervert, a micro-manager or discriminates by giving yet another man a promotion while the women remain stagnant and underpaid. Blair is determined to change the narrative in her own life. She wants to go for the gold and rise to her potential but man, the debilitating fear, and post traumatic stress feel to be taking her under. She is determined to fight though. Everyday trying to pick up all the pieces of her soul he shattered and somehow glue it back together. Once a week, she goes to Whole Foods to do some light shopping and heavy dreaming. She slowly browses each aisle always starting in skin care while drinking the eight dollar After Party green juice from the juice bar. Her favorite scents of the Zum bar soaps are the clove mint and almond. She justifies the purchases by telling herself you only get one skin, not like teeth or nails or hair. Skin you cannot replace. Tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch will be Udon noodles with onions, mushroom, red bell peppers, and chicken. Once home, she peels off her work attire, a black and tan print DVF wrap dress and slips into loose fitting pajama bottoms. The clock on her phone reads 6:41pm. She will write until eight and then make dinner in her wok she hasn’t used since that night. Blair knows it’s critical for her to be doing something everyday (well not necessarily the weekends) to get closer to her dream of becoming a professional writer. She correlates professional with money. She has yet to make any money writing. Some of the closest people to her say, “You can only call it a hobby because you don’t make a living doing it.” After so many of those comments, she’s learned to hide her dream, keep it under wraps while growing it a little here, a little there. Not always confident in her talent as a writer, she is skilled at negotiating. Working at Goldie has taught her how to be tough when she needs to be. One thing that gets under her skin is when she sees someone taking blatant advantage of another. She knows this happens with book agents, even publishers. Blair is sure that one day her book will go into contract and she will be ready to play hardball for her work, her livelihood, and her worth. There will be an agent, plenty even, she will make a good team with. Her fingers sit on the keys ready to type something rich but nothing comes. Her mind still paralyzed from that night. What do I want to say here? Not sure where this story is even going but someway the words find her. Sometimes at work where she will quickly make notes on her phone, sometimes in the night getting up to get the words out before they leave her. Other times her inspiration comes from another writer. A word, a phrase that resonates so deeply that she dissects it by taking away and adding her own personal flair. That is the beauty of writing, there is really nothing off limits, not even her own story.

Blair’s phone vibrates on the ottoman.

“Hey Soph. Yeah, I just got home. Nothing much, just making dinner. No, I haven’t heard from him. Okay. Yes, I’ve read the first five chapters. Sure, see you then. Bye.”

Sophie is Blair’s closest friend. They have known each other for six years, meeting through another mutual friend at a party. Blair laughs each time she thinks about that night. Some woman neither of them knew had too much to drink and started singing, no, butchering the lyrics to the songs filtered in the background with crazy confidence. When she would stumble upon a word she did know, she would practically shout it. She didn’t care that people were staring until she did. As the night progressed, she went into a dark abyss of trash talking others. No one could get her to shut up so Blair and Sophie left to get out of the line of fire. To this day they talk about how they bonded over the drunk girl at a party, priceless. Tomorrow night a small group will meet at Blair’s for book club night. Blair finds that reading and discussing primarily fiction helps her improve her craft. This month’s book is Florida by Lauren Groff, literary fiction. It’s a collection at times of gut wrenching short stories, spanning across the searing, slithery landscapes of Florida. Groff using Florida as one of the main characters. Blair’s sure the author is speaking of Jacksonville in the opening chapter. Blair lived in Jacksonville, the “dicey” Riverside area for a couple of years. There was a woman attacked, not raped but punched in the face in the early morning hours as she watered her tropical hibiscus.
Book night usually consists of a lot of wine and little discussion about the actual book unless something sordid jumps from the pages. Why is it that people want to know the dirty, keep you up at night secrets? Her friends will for sure obsess over the unsavory thing that happened to her.

It’s 7:21, fingers silent. The story she is writing; is about five friends who escape to St. George Island over a long Labor Day weekend. Something shattering happens but Blair doesn’t know what the shattering thing is, yet.  Ugh, I’ll just start dinner, get away from this blinking cursor adding more pressure. The water stings the tips of her fingers and around her nails from one month of picking. Not one, but two physical habits that have manifested from… No, don’t go there. The other habit, talking to herself. She pushes those dark persistent thoughts away. She turns off the faucet and wraps a kitchen towel tight around her hand. The nagging pain subsiding. After she cuts all the vegetables up in chunks, she steps out onto her balcony while the chicken simmers in peanut oil, turmeric, and ginger. She read somewhere that turmeric is like a super food with powerful medicinal properties so why not. The humidity dense, opening her pores and attracting water molecules to her hair, she marvels at the lake. The Cloister was built in the early 1970’s sitting on the same piece of land that was once the Virginia Inn, 1915 and before that the Rogers House. The Rogers House was the second building constructed in Winter Park, 1882. A sort of mark for the beginning of Winter Park also known back then as a refuge for “men of means.” Blair laughs at the antics of measuring men do. Why not a refuge for men of meagerness? She knows everyone not just the wealthy need refuge in this, at times very cruel world. Blair bought her small Mediterranean condo two years ago when it was a buyer’s market. Winter Park has been called the New England of central Florida known for it’s sub tropical plants and tree canopies. It’s a most unusual yet reassuring place, tucked away from the tourism of Orlando.

After dinner, she washes the few dishes and puts the leftovers in Tupperware for tomorrow’s lunch before climbing into bed. Not long after she will hear her next door neighbor crying, a single wall dividing their bedrooms. This usually happens at least twice a week. Mrs., well now Ms. Solloway, recently went through what Blair assumes a horrendous divorce. The loss great including her home. She hasn’t shared much with Blair but she can see the devastation in her eyes. The spark out. In the beginning, one month to be exact, Ms. Solloway’s tears and wails frightened Blair as she laid in her bed. You could hear the agony in her moans. Then her cry became sort of a lighthouse for Blair. Strangely, it soothed her in an unconventional way somehow tying them together in the fight. She wanted to knock on her door, bring her something like a listening ear but each time she would rise from her bed something would hold her back. “Don’t pry, don’t embarrass her,” she would murmur.  Eventually lying back down until she could no longer keep her heavy lids open.

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