Thursday, November 6, 2008



Alice rolled her chair back from her desk, stood, and stretched. She picked up the half-full coffee cup that had been sitting untouched next to her computer for hours and took a hesitant sip of the room-temperature contents. Blech. That's just nasty. How long have I been sitting here, anyway?

She headed into the kitchen and dumped the remainder down the drain. She rinsed the sludge out of the cup and set it in the sink. She opened the dishwasher and looked at the clean dishes jammed into every cubic inch of space. Even the ten minutes it would take to empty it seemed like too much effort. Maybe just the silverware. She pulled the basket out and set it on the counter. She opened the silverware drawer. She picked up a fork. She put it in the drawer. She picked up a spoon. She put it in the drawer. This is ridiculous! She slammed the drawer shut and leaned against the sink, arms crossed.

Everything seemed completely overwhelming right now. Was there anything at all good left on the TiVo? Spending the rest of the day on the couch staring at the TV was about all she could handle.

I wish Ted would call.... Coincidentally enough, her cell phone decided to ring that very second. She fumbled pulling it out of her pocket and checked the caller id. Nope, not Ted. Damn. She sighed and flipped it open.

"Hey, Carol."

"Hey, girl! What're you up to?"

"Absolutely nothing! I spent all morning on the computer doing who knows what and am now standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what to do to kill the 8 hours before I can go to bed without feeling like a complete loser. How 'bout you?"

"I'm kind of stuck too. Bob took the kids out and about and they'll be gone until dinner. I putzed around getting some odds and ends done but all of a sudden I feel like I'm dead in the water. Hey, did that guy call today? What's his name?"

"Ted. Nope. I thought things were pretty hot and heavy between us, but nada. We went out Thursday night for Thai and had a major snogfest at his place after but I had to get home and get some sleep for my eight o'clock conference call Friday morning. I hope he didn't think I was bolting. We talked a lot on the phone yesterday but we both decided to stay home last night."

"Well, it's still early. Maybe he'll call later."

"Hope so. He's a pretty nice guy. Probably the best one I've gone out with in a long time. Just don't know if anything is going to come of it but I guess it's too early to tell."

"Yeah, sometime these things take time."

"Yeah, I know. But at my age, time seems like something in short supply."

Alice waited for Carol's response but didn't hear any signs of life on the other end. "Carol? You there?"

"Oh, yeah, sorry. Just spaced out for a minute. I just can't seem to hold a thought in my head for more than a second lately."

"Me too! You should see me, standing here in the middle of the floor turning in circles trying to figure out what I should be doing. It's driving me nuts!"

"That's why Bob took the kids out today. We were driving each other batshit last night. Karl was picking up Pokemon cards one at a time, saying their name, and stacking them in a pile. And the girls got into a 'Yuh-huh! Nuh-huh!' argument that lasted ten minutes, I swear. This morning Bob chased them all out into the car and took them to the mall just to get them out of the house. Sounds like we're all in the same boat."

"Yeah. Hey, it's the second week, right?"

"I think so. Wait... I just checked -- yep, today's the 8th. Looks like we've hit the NaNo Doldrums, big-time. Last week was so high-energy, it's really jarring to come to a screeching halt all of a sudden like this."

"I know! Last week was crazy busy. I had things lined up one after the other every day and couldn't hardly catch my breath. High drama at work, of course, then Ted and I went out, what, four nights? Good times." Alice smiled briefly, but it faded quickly. "But now I feel like I'm completely burned out. Actually, it started yesterday. No wonder Ted and I didn't get together."

"Sure sounds like Doldrums to me. It's taking forever to get the simplest things done, too. I tried to clear the piles of junk mail off the counter and found myself opening up each envelope and reading the stupid things aloud! Insane!"

"I noticed she just now turned the word count off, too. I think she's getting freaked out."

"Well, poor kid, it is her first time. Hopefully she'll push through it this weekend and we can get back to life as we know it. Oops... hold on..." Carol sneezed. "Sorry. I've been doing a lot of that today. But it's better than throwing my hands up in the air and scowling, like I was doing last week. That got real old, real quick."

"God, I hope things even out soon! I'm dying for something resembling normal. And I'm hoping that this Ted thing doesn't burn out too fast. I have high hopes for this one."

"Not to get too nosy, but have you... you know?"

Surprisingly, Alice found herself blushing. "No, not yet. But it's only been a week. I was kind of hoping we'd get together this weekend, but I'm feeling so fried, I'm not sure that's going to happen."

"Fair warning, Hon: She does seem to have a problem with more... intimate moments, so you might not get anything too explicit. I'm just sayin' is all."

"Great. Just what I need: a noob Writer with Protestant Ancestors. Hey, maybe that explains why I decided I had to go home Thursday night. Thanks for the warning. I'll try not to get my hopes up."

"Want to meet for lunch or something? I really need to get out of the house. And despite our ridiculously repetitive actions lately, I don't think there's any way we're going to make it to 2000 here. Maybe a change of venue will help, or at least get her off our backs for a few hours."

"Sure, sounds good. It'll help take my mind off of Ted, too. But we can't go to the bookstore, 'k? I just hate having to read out loud the entire back cover description of every book I pick up. Word count or not, that's just embarrassing!"

"OK, meet you at The Spotted Cock in half an hour?"

"You're on. See you there." Alice flipped her phone shut.

She slowly shook her head. "Ah, November sucks." She headed upstairs to put on something not made of flannel. Stopped halfway up the steps, she glared at the ceiling. "Fair warning, bee-yotch: If you screw up this thing with Ted, I swear, I'll take up sign language!"


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