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Here is a short sample from the book:
Elaine was lying on the couch in her mother’s living room. It was the couch she grew up on, with a flower print, now covered in gray to hide the dinginess and all of the claw marks made by her big calico cat, Samantha. When she pressed her fingers against the cover, and smoothed the fabric out completely, Elaine could still see the little flowers underneath. She had moved back out to Long Island from the city 6 months ago when her boyfriend, David, left her. Sam was sitting on her lap purring loudly as they watched Laverne and Shirley on TV Land. The theme song was singing to her, ‘we’re gonna make it after all.’
Elaine was wearing Columbia University sweatpants (where David had gone to medical school), and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. Her hair was up in a ponytail. It was 9:00 at night, and she had been watching television all afternoon.
The warm light from the kitchen made a glare on the TV, but she didn’t get up to turn it off. She had left it on from when she’d made popcorn for herself a half hour before. Even though there was also an overhead light, the room felt very dark and cold to Elaine, very wintery. The shadows around the edges of the room seemed to be solid objects to her: black ice she thought, and the general silence of the house, with only the slow ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall made her anxious to make a sound. Even her breath seemed too loud and grating, as if somehow she was making the house angry with her for disturbing its peace with her mouth-breathing. The house never had a problem with the television. That was its heart. Elaine was only some sort of nurse who shuffled on padded feet around a sickbed, monitoring the heart for any signs of disease.
The walls were covered with knick-knacks and memorabilia – mostly awards and trophies won by her sister, Amy, who now lived with her father in Chicago. He was a lawyer there and Amy was a law student. Elaine’s eyes focused on the glass coffee table. The paint had been scratched off of the black metal legs. At the same time, her hand searched the metal bowl that was sitting in front of the couch, but she didn’t find any popped kernels. She ate constantly but had always been really skinny. She thought of going to make some more, but didn’t want to get up from the couch. The couch, especially under the blanket, that was a safe zone. If she put her feet on the ground, well that was like stepping into swiftly moving water. She pictured being swept to the sea, tumbling over and over, head over heals, until she drowned.
Her mother was out on a date. After being divorced from Elaine’s father for 9 years, it was her first serious boyfriend and she went out with him often, even tonight, Christmas Eve.
Elaine was on winter break from Suffolk Community College, where she was studying to be a nurse. She had two weeks ahead of her with nothing to do, since the doctor’s office where she worked part time didn’t need her over the holidays this year. Last Christmas she worked there some, and helped out at her mom’s florist shop. She liked to stay busy, and was already not enjoying her time off.
She was staring at the heavy snow falling outside the window to the right of the TV. It looked beautiful, but it scared her for some reason she couldn’t understand. She petted Sam. Laverne was teaching the girl she was baby-sitting for how to kiss. “You should say ‘whisper’ and close your eyes,” Laverne said.
That’s when the phone rang. Elaine decided to answer it, thinking that her mother might have gotten into a car accident in the snow. It was David – the first time he’d called in 4 months. “I need to talk to you,” he said. “Can I come over?” Then he added, “Is your mother there?”
“Do you know when she’ll be back?”
“I’m not sure,” Elaine said, even though she knew her mother always got home from her dates with Harold around 1:00 a.m.
“Is she out with Harold?” David asked.
“I’ll be there soon,” he said, then hung up.
The doorbell rang 10 minutes later. David lived in the city. He had been calling her on his cell phone.