It’s Work-in-Progress Week! Thanks to the fabulous Beth Kephart, writers are posting a little something from their current works-in-progress…on blogs, Facebook, tumblr, twitter, wherever. (The best thing about starting something new is no hard and fast rules...this started as a day and has become a week!) While I’m not talking much at the moment about what I’ve been working on, I would like to offer this tiny taste, the opening to a short story.
Thank you, Beth, for rallying us and for being, always, the very definition of a generous, supportive, nurturing writer. Here’s what she wrote on her blog today:
Yesterday, in response to a query from Ilie Ruby, I posted a few lines from a novel in progress and then invited all my Facebook writer friends to do the same. I wanted to shatter, for that one day at least, the loneliness that can stem from writing. I wanted to celebrate those who had published and those who will soon publish—to make it clear that we are all of the same yearning community, no barriers between us.
Oh, there is one real rule for Work-in-Progress Week, and that is to encourage others to post something. So please do! Sound your barbaric yawp and let the world see what you're up to!
A LITTLE SOMETHING-SOMETHING
By Leslie Pietrzyk
Kate would not remind the Bakers that the day of her visit was also her birthday. It was probably bad enough that she was visiting, their dead son’s wife, showing up to—what? Remind them that David was still dead?
He had died in a boating accident in June, four months ago, and this visit to the Bakers—planned in conjunction with her conference in DC—had been in the works before that, since May. The plan was that David would join her. Now it was October. Now David was dead. Since the Bakers knew about the trip, she felt trapped into seeing them. One night, Kate told herself, a few drinks, dinner, coffee. Nothing more.
The Bakers lived in Alexandria, Virginia, an historic town about seven miles from Washington. Grady, the father, owned a heating and oil company and had served two terms on the city council. Josie, the mother, ran things: Garden Week, the Junior League, a Siamese cat rescue group. Several years ago she had taken up cooking in a fierce way and now talked about opening a specialty cookie bakery. There were four sisters, all of whom lived in nearby suburbs, all orbited by an assortment of husbands, ex-husbands, partners, and children. David, Kate’s husband, was the baby of the family, with thirteen years between himself and his oldest sister.
The funeral service was the last time Kate had seen the Bakers, when they had descended upon Grinnell, the small college town in Iowa where Kate taught economics. The family trooped through en masse, as if a tour group with an itinerary, eager to see the sites of David’s life: house, car, cat, grocery store, where he planted tomatoes, the Wednesday night poker friends, the coffee house where he hosted monthly poetry readings. She didn’t want to think unkind things—after all, they had lost their son and brother and uncle—but there was something so noisy about the Bakers and the way they encompassed space, as if they felt entitled to much more of it than anyone else. Kate’s own family was small and quiet, people who proudly stayed in the background, preferring the margins. ...