I have now heard from two public libraries with a similar job opening to the one I have secured, and in both cases they have told me that yeah, no.

So a part of me thinks, well, obviously the people who hired me know a good thing when they see it.

And the rest of me, being the majority voting bloc, wants to talk again to the good people at "You Should Jump Off a Cliff" because obviously this means I am unemployable and will never find more work and what was I thinking maybe I should beg my old employers for my job back.

It's a very short fear spiral on my playground.

In other news, I heard about a month ago that the person who did take my old job (which was slightly reworked, I'm assuming to make it sound like it was easy-peasy)... quit after a week.

I'm trying not to increase my schadenfreude but come on.

Actually I have to wonder if maybe they'll understand there was a problem and you know, maybe make changes.

And now I'm gonig to take five minutes to look at the job boards, five minutes to write, and then head off to the job. My library has two locations - I've been at the main branch and today I'm at the branch. I had my second interview at the branch and am still struck by an image, when the three who were going to interview me all came out of a doorway, each with a bowl like priestesses bearing gifts, and lo, there was fruit in the bowls, should we wish to snack. So it was half holy, half goofy. That's an average I would be glad to see every day.
It's on call, but I have a job!

I'm at a public library outside of Portland, and I'm thrilled and excited!

I'm also wondering if that means it's time to find a place of my own, and not be taking the free space I've been using (with all gratitude) since March.

It's my brother's inlaws spare house, one they have for people to come stay at for a few months, and a grandchild stayed for 18 months - I think we're all agreed I'm not a grandchild and not entitled to that... but September 17th will be six months, and I'm grateful as all hell still, and enjoying my little goofy house, which is far more than I will have once I become a renter.

I'm only on-call, and Portland is too costly to rent there without full-time employment. But hopefully I can get a month-to-month in Salem that isn't the moon. Maybe I can rent a room in someone's house? We'll see.

Back to the celebration: I HAVE A JOB! DO THE DANCE OF JOY, NUMFAR!
I had a friend email me and ask if she could stay with me during the eclipse. She'd just got a wild hair, she said, and she felt like driving up. Well - she'd planned to fly but apparently that's not an option. So, could she stay with me, or do I know anyone she could stay with?

Well, first off, I have a single bed and a couch that doesn't unfold, and neither she nor I can be considered petite. So I told her, no, not gonna work.

But really, I was just kinda wigged. I mean, maybe she could stay with my brother but I feel strange saying that a friend has made no plans for visiting a city preparing for an event that city planners say will quadruple the population, could she stay here?

I just read something that said this could be huge, or it could be Y2k all over again. So my fears could be for nothing.

My cousin and her husband are doing the same thing - I think they said they're planning on camping, but at last conversation they'd switched back from Eastern to Western Oregon so I'm betting they don't have any reservations... My cuz had said maybe we could hang. At the time I'd thought, well, if I have a job, maybe not. No problem, says the cuz, Maybe we could meet for lunch after, and my response was sort of a yelled email, though without caps, of WTFOMGBBX DO YOU NOT REALIZE THE TRAFFIC?

And then someone on Facebook posted a public request asking if she could park in someone's driveway during the eclipse, and she named and some of her other Oregon friends. Okay, it's her post on her wall, not on mine, but What.The.Fuck. You want to ask me a question, send me an email.

Maybe I need to set my public setting to HELLABITCHY or something.
“I haven’t seen Bob lately,” Ray’s dad says, looking around the bar as he climbs up on a bar stool. “Have you seen him, Raymond?”

“Nope,” Ray says. He’s still trying to figure out if he should ask his mum if she’s noticed Dad talking to himself (or Bob), but it’s true that he hasn’t seen Bob, so honesty is definitely the best policy today. What he’s worried about is - aside from the way this tap isn’t drawing the way it’s supposed to. He has a sneaking suspicion the problem is in the basement - other people noticing this new friendship of Dad’s.

“So, Damian, where’s he from? Where’s he live?” asks Bruce, who’s at the other end of the bar. If Bruce and Ray’s dad were in high school and were girls, they’d probably be called frenemies. They’re both former meat cutters, they worked at the same packing house, they know all the same people and each thinks the other’s an asshole. It’s possible people who don’t know either of them think they’re both assholes but for two bits Ray would tell Bruce to take a hike.
Well, two bits and a guarantee that all the other meat packers would still drink here.

“He’s from somewhere up north,” Damian says. “And he’s dead.”

There’s a pause. Ray realizes he’s not the only one who needs a moment to think about that.

“Well, I guess that’s why he’s not been around,” Bruce says, because of course he does.

“Well you couldn’t expect a living Mountie to be spending time in a bar in Chicago, now could you?” Ray’s dad says, offended by the asshole nature of Bruce’s comment. Ray doesn’t even try to be fair in this fight.

“So you’re saying this place has a ghost?” Bruce says.

Ray looks over, sees his dad’s face in the mirror, rolling his eyes.

“Of course he’s not a ghost! He’s just dead.”

“Dad, did Mum tell you she wanted you home by nine?” Ray asks, looking at the clock over the bar and hoping he’s reading it right. His dad looks up at the same clock and then looks at Ray, confused.

“No, she never. She say why?” he asks. Ray thinks fast.

“She’s not trying to plan a surprise party for me, is she, Dad? Dad, you gotta make sure she -”

“All right, Raymond, I’ll handle it,” Damian says, a fatherly smile on his face that he beams at the rest of the bar, the little shit still needs his old man. Ray decides maturity means taking one for the team without shouting something like you are going to pay for this and keeps quiet.

His dad ambles out and Ray gives up on the tap. He tells Mikey to watch the bar, and to pound the hammer on the floor if Ray needs to come upstairs, and he heads down.

There’s a locked door at the top of the stairs and at the bottom and that’s how it was when Ray got the keys and how he keeps it now. Former cops got no arguments with one more lock on one more door. He closes the door at top and locks it behind him before clamping his fingers around the second key and heads downstairs.

He’s down here every day to check on things, and everyday someone sweeps and mops around the kegs, so Ray’s not expecting to see anything when he opens the door. Oh, sure, there were rats when he started but he had the exterminators in and the holes are cemented and most of the crevice like spaces are gone. The kegs are raised and you can slide a broom and mop under there.

So it’s a surprise when he unlocks the door at the bottom of the stairs and walks in, turning on the light and seeing that he’s in some sort of cabin with a wind howling outside and a fire in the fireplace.

“Close the door, young man, you’ll let in the cold,” an old man by the fire says without turning around.

And then he turns around, and the thought that there could be two Mountie ghosts haunting Ray’s bar is probably beyond belief, even in taking into account that there’s apparently already one Mountie ghost haunting Ray’s bar, so adding in another probably shouldn’t be a problem.

“Holy shit, you’re Bob,” Ray says, and Bob looks offended.

“I don’t see that that sort of language is called for, son,” he says, and comes over. He takes off his hat and his coat and hangs them up on the pegs by the door.

“I’ve got a moose hock and some Gorgonzola, if you’re hungry,” Bob says and goes back to the fire. Ray turns around, sees the open door and the stairs.

It’s been since two months after the divorce that he had one of the painkillers, the strong ones.

“You’re dead,” Ray says, turning back around. Bob looks up from the wooden thing he’s whittling, because of course he’s whittling.

“Never be afraid to state the obvious, son,” he says.

“I don’t usually have to be reminded of that,” Ray says. “Thing is, Bob, we have this thing where -”

“Who does?” Bob asks.

Ray looks around.

“We. The living. Chicago. Take your pick of the many things you don’t get to be ‘we’ about. We got this thing where we don’t talk to dead people, which is actually in response to the thing where dead people don’t talk to us. It’s a thing,” Ray says, but there’s a problem in that Bob’s not lost in all the things, which Ray has been counting on. It works on his parents, so he’s a little confused, because Bob isn’t. Confused, that is.

“But we’re talking, son,” Bob says, just like that annoying guy in math class (and he’s in every math class, you know you’ve met him) who says that Latin thing, the one he says, and then looks around and adds, “Q.E.D.,” as if that clears anything up. “You can’t say we’re not talking when patently we are.”

“I can patently say this is the strangest day of my life,” Ray says, and he hears the hammer against the floor above him.

“You’re a pain in the ass,” he says to Bob and turns, leaves, shuts the door behind him, and heads up when he remembers he never did check the taps. Hell.

He heads back down, his arguments lined up, but when he opens the door, it’s the bar basement he expects. That shocks the shit out of him because one thing worse than a weird thing happening is a weird thing not happening and then you have to decide if it did happen or are you just going crazy.
So I'm doing the GWYO 7 days/7 stories challenge, but perhaps not seven stories. Maybe just one, in seven days.

What's below is a preface (written yesterday), followed by Part 1.

Preface )

Part 1 )
Over 100,000 words y'all. Some of them good.
Too hot for a pussy hat? Try a pussy pin! Handmade felt is just the first step for these handmade artisanal beauties.

Pussy pin (ukulele not included)

The crafter sends all proceeds to Planned Parenthood, International. She says most people pay about $15.00 for each one. All I know is they're darned cute and as soon as she has more I'm getting one.

After all, my ukulele would look stunning in one.
So I got an email from a public library system in the greater metropolitan Portland area asking me to come for a meet-and-greet/kinda-sorta interview next week. The position is on-call, but if you want in, this is a way to go. If I pass the meet-and-greet (which is how they term it) and they have me actually come work, then they get to see me in action without committing, because, you know, on-call. If I impress I imagine I get shuffled into the mix more, and if I impress more then they put me in for full-time once that comes open.

Or so I imagine. I'm crossing my fingers.

I am angsting over an application for a job that I really really want. I have applied to the institution twice before, and I have interviewed twice before. At that time I was in California, so just to be interviewed was an honor, as the Oscar nominees might say. Still I wonder if my file is stamped LOSER because I've interviewed twice without advancing. But now I am in town, and if they liked me at a distance I have to hope they like me up close.

The application is almost done. I'm stuck on the final question and have been for two weeks. I've sent it out for inspection and have the edits, so I'm just waiting... I guess for final approval? Which I believe I have, and I need to send it in. Fear holds me back. All right, all right, I'll send it in.

I have a storytelling gig!

That overstates it (and the entire world wonders how you overstate a storytelling gig - is that like a supermodel pigging out on two crackers? Seriously, who cares about storytelling?) - apparently my awesome story last week impressed the panel of judges and I am now part of a showcase that will determine which, if any, new tellers are added to the guild. I'm not worried that I won't be good enough - frankly, if I'm the middle of the pack for the showcase then holy shit! That's some deep bench!

Okay, I want to have 93K and change before I finish my tea, so it's back to the Google doc for me.
Well, at least that's what the GYWO monthly check-in lists me as having. This is already wrong, wrong, wrong, for I now have 86,664 words. And that's already out of date because I don't have today's added. Because I haven't written enough today, so there's that...

So last night I went to the Portland Storytellers Guild monthly potluck and story swap. A swap is an informal storytelling session, often just other tellers in the audience. I only knew one fellow in attendance, and he kindly introduced me around. I put my name up on the board and was told I had about 7 minutes, and if I wanted critique they'd be happy to give it.

Sure, I said. Feedback's always good.

They had a microphone. With a room that size I don't really need one - I've been bellowing since the cradle - but having one meant I could pull my voice way down and still have everyone hear me, and ... here's a pro-tip for getting attention: go quiet. Make them lean forward a little, as if they might miss it if they sit back.

And then I quietly told a little Buddhist story that is almost a shaggy dog because of a surprise ending that's pretty much a punchline. Which, when you're telling a quiet story, gets a great response - they totally don't expect it.

So, pretty much love all around with the story - the critique was positive, people were happy, and maybe I'll be able to do some work with them next season.

Job front... no change yet. I am doing the applications for things I'm over-qualified for, under-qualified for, sorta-kinda-qualified for. I am still staring at an application from last week, in which I need to say, in 300 words, what I think the job is and three things about me that make me the one they should pick.

Drabbles, one fannish friend said, and I am trying to consider my response in that way - 75 words on the job, and 75 words on each of three of my awesome attributes. Communications, I like to think - I'm good at helping people, either one on one or as training, and I'm great at a reference interview, and a darn good coworker. (This category also gets a little storytelling love)

I am still pondering my other two attributes. Hair, maybe. Okay, fine, no - but I try thinking and I try not thinking and I don't know what to put yet.
Through March, my GYWO total was 31,065 words. As I'm in the 200K group, that's... well it's a bit thin.
But in April I logged over 40,000 words. I am happy, I am thrilled, I am grateful.
My ego is waiting for the results to be posted so I can see that my count is no longer thin, but thick with words, and the possibilities of continuing same. Which I am - my words are continuing to flow, and I'm over 80,000 words at this time.

I am staying in a little house - not a tiny house, by definition, just a very small 1-bedroom dwellng with a front and side door, carport and a back yard with one of those bench trellises I am currently sitting in. It's very peaceful living here, and I'm happy. Meanwhile, my landlords are my brother's inlaws, and they are sweet, gentle souls. I have offered to mow (I kill plants, so don't ask me to garden if you value your beds), but still my bro's F-I-L comes over and mows. He was here last Thursday, and the mower tracks are still visible. The little flowers - I always wantto call them daisies but they're the little white flowers you get in yards. Not clover flowers, but, you know, tiny daisies. So the field of them visible last Thursday are gone, but already more have sprung up. "WE DON'T CARE," they seem to say, flowers in the air like they just don't care, and I am still so happy.

I had a few hours on Saturday of a mood I knew would appear at some point, the OH SHIT I NEED A JOB I'M GOING TO BE OUT ON THE STREETS WITH NO MONEY HELP HELP HELP. I had been sitting in my living room when this happened, and I did two things to combat it. One, I took a walk in a park, and Two, I called people who understand my brain. I didn't get actual people, but I left voice mails, and while I didn't feel better, I felt like I'd done my part to change things. I mean, I am looking, and appling for positions - so I am doing the right things. My mood is less interested in action and more focused on results, which shows that my mood should go sit in the corner.

But here it is Sunday night, and because it's May in Oregon, the twilight is huge and all is visible still, just not lit, and I can see those tiny little daisies and I am happy.

I did the absolute right thing in quitting my job and moving.
This story at NPR looks interesting to me. I haven't read a lot of Lovecraft - in the article she talks about how it's woven into our fabric as much as Pride & Prejudice, so that even if you haven't read it, you're not confused by references - but I know I've read some, and I've looked him up only to go whuh, he's racist? Huh and then stop reading, and forget, and then repeat the cycle. I cannot tell you how often I've done this.*

I know I reread something - probably the Innsbrook story - a few years ago after reading Gaiman's Lovecraft-esque story in... Werewolves in Their Youth, iirc.

And I think it's quite possible that Night Vale satisfies my need for a mythology of dark forces beyond my grasp, so perhaps I'm overthinking it. Still, this is going on the list of books to be read.

*I am well aware of the privilege I exhibit in this behavior. Perhaps I need to do a deep read of Lovecraft, looking at the themes Emrys talks about, which are apparently BLATANT unless you're a clueless person like me. In my defense on a literary level, I'm not a deep reader. I need to read something several times, or read something in conjunction with a class or a group, to slow down and look at a piece of work as a commentary that needs conversation. My self-indictment on privileges refers to the fact that I have the luxury to forget racism as a force that impinges far less on my life than on others. My self-indictment on shallow reading is, well, yes, I'm a shallow reader who goes too fast and doesn't stop for thought or beauty. Also, this footnote is way too long.

taps microphone

Is this on?

Thank you for coming. I have a prepared statement, and then I'll be taking questions.

It is true that I did not reach my goal of 200,000 words in 2016, and that I experienced a large slump September through December. I nonetheless pledged to write 200,000 words in 2017, as I still believed it was an attainable goal. This was based on my numbers through August.

However, my writing output for January through March of 2017 has been disappointing, to say the least. At the end of March, I had only written about 30,000, and was therefore behind in terms of maintaining a pace of at least 548 words per day (and therefore I should have had 49,320 words by the end of March).

I am pleased to announce that April was a comeback month, which saw me produced over 40,000 words. That's right: In one month, I more than doubled the production of the entire prior quarter. This means, should I look to hit the goal at the end of the year, I have reduced the daily pace to 525 words per day.

I'd like to thank my agent, my coach, and of course, Jesus.

Are there any questions?
So... the Oregon Library Association started yesterday/today. Yesterday was pre-conference, and I was working registration. There was a pre-conference class on legal reference for public librarians. A smart job prospector would think, hmm, I could probably show up and announce my status as a LAW LIBRARIAN IN NEED OF A JOB and I bet at least a couple people in attendance would be in need of another reference librarian and would love to have a subject specialist...
From how I phrase this, you already know I looked and saw "legal reference basics" and made no connection between their needs and my abilities. Because I'm just that awesome.

Meanwhile, my brother tells me that he and the missus are leaving on a trip, and I'm welcome to use their place if I want. It is about 5 minutes closer, so not an issue, but then again, they have a shower, and I only have a tub. So I decide that I'll just stop over each morning and grab a shower, do my makeup, and bug out. This morning, I pack up my stuff and head over.

Wait, hold on - I'm skipping some parts of the story.

First I get in the car, then realize I don't have the key to Bro&SIL's place. I go back inside.

The key is in the car. I get back in and start the car.

Then I remember that I'm going to a conference in a hotel and hotel ballrooms are notorious for being either ovens or iceboxes, and I need a better scarf to layer.

I go in, then back out.

Where's my phone?

I put on my bluetooth, which tells me it's ready to pair, which means it can't find the phone.

I go back inside, but I can't find the phone.

I go back outside and search through my purse and find it beneath my laptop, which was blocking the signal.

I finally head over to Bro&SIL's.

There's a car in the driveway and the lights are on, but maybe they just like to leave lights on while they're out of town.

SIL is in her bathrobe and asking wtf. I had the dates wrong, and they're leaving today.

It's official: I can't even.
In the past 48 hours, I:

*Registered for the Oregon Library Association conference, and will be volunteering at the registration table,
*Created, ordered, and picked up new business cards that scream HIRE ME,
*Wrote 2000 words, and hope to do more after I do this update,
*Attended the quarterly board meeting of my storytelling association,
*Worked out.

Boo. Yeah.
My brother's in-laws have a house they rent out, and they use it as a guest house. I'm the current resident. It's a goofy little place, and I quite like it. Once I have a job and start looking for my own place, I'll be sorry to leave it.

However, leaving will mean that huzzah, I have a job! So, be on the lookout for that announcement at some point in the future.

Hopefully soon.

But what I have to say today is that last night, I saw stars in the sky. It's been rainy here, but it was clear last night. Stars, guys. Pretty damn cool.
So my hair is Manic Panic Inferno with slices of Deep Purple. I might try it the other way around in the future, but for now...

It's pretty startling to see it in the mirror. One of my cousins calls it "career-limiting red." A friend wonders about job interviews.

But I'm looking at it and thinking, damn, I'm gonna need to be bold if I have hair this bold. I am going to be looking for work, and hopefully scoring interviews, and when I sit across from someone who might be of the opinion that God's handiwork is always superior, I'm going to have to stare them down with a smile, with a face that says oh, honey, you need me, because I have the best head around inside and out. I am tenacious and ferocious, saucy at my dullest and aflame when the dial is at zero.

My hair is short and I use Rusk Glue or Paste while wet and spray wax once it's dry, so I can have a slice of violet curling gently over my brow and raise the red higher and higher. And as a woman who has been known to withdraw from the world when it is decidedly not my oyster, a crown of flames now requires me to face society with a grin, or at least a close-mouthed smile that might be hiding blood-stained incisors. If I am to succeed in my new adventure, I have chosen a coif that is not at all a defense, but both sword and torch, and I will need to be bold enough to wear it.
My hair was cut and then bleached, and then covered with some Manic Panic in two colors. I then walked home - I'm only a block from the salon - because I'm letting the colors really dig in. I'll wash it out in the morning.

Of course, this meant walking home looking like a dork. I am reminded of a few years ago, when I had a nosebleed that wouldn't stop, and I had to go to the urgent care. After it didn't stop with a cotton ball of antihistamine, they put a nasal tampon in my nose. News alert: there are such things as nasal tampons. Wanna know what they look like? Very short tampons. And unlike their big sisters, they don't go so far into the cavity that you can't see them, so it's very obvious that you have a white thing shoved up your nose, and the string attached pretty much spells it out what you're wearing.

"Would you like a mask?" they asked. I said no, I was just going to go home. I then walked back out into the waiting room and realized that yeah, that mask might have been a good idea.

Back to today.

After looking online at one of the colors, I'm experiencing some worry that maybe I should have gone with that as the base with the other as slices.

In other first world problems, I need to get some more packing done tonight.
So. The challenge is to look at a picture and write a scene. There are other rules, but that's the main one, right? So I requested a picture and was sent this one, which caused me no small amount of worry.

There are at least two schools of thought that run through my mind when I'm writing characters of color, one of which is that I want to be respectful that I'm not crowding in and telling a story that might not be mine to write. Aaaaaand the other school of thought comes from Susie Bright talking about the lack of interracial porn and how its rarity almost automatically imposes a conversation of "white on top is neutral or white domination/black on top is always political" and her thought is that the way to get past this is to write a lot more interracial porn.

Taking porn out of the equation, there's something to be said about normalizing, and yay for it. Yay for celebrating differences without stopping to say, "Lady doctors? How can that be?"

So, the picture. According to a comment, this is depicting: Civil Rights Protest prep. Hair pulling and blowing smoke in her face to prepare her for the experience of sitting in restaurants that were not willing to serve people of color.

I wrote for 30 minutes, and may have gone outside the bounds of the picture (and the challenge) but what I hope is that I wrote something decent and reflective and not completely HI I AM WHITE ALLOW ME TO TELL YOUR STORY. If it is exactly that, then I guess the thing I need to do is try it again. It's the only way I'm going to figure out how to tell a story with a narrative that needs to be celebrated for the moment and the movement it is part of, and not made other by my hamfisted approach.

Your comments are appreciated but - sigh. Again, I'm not trying to put ME into it, you know? It's not about "Denise has written about black people, let's get a dialogue because DENISE has done it and she obviously is important" and not about "Denise has written about black people and screw you if you don't like it" and just about here is a thing I wrote that I worry makes me sound like I am saying both.


“Well, you never did have a tender scalp,” Anita said, giving a good tug to the lock she’d combed out just this morning. “You just look at my hair and I get ready to shriek.”

Sarah smiled, the pull on her hair nothing but some pressure.

“Tug harder,” she said. “Don’t do it now, though, surprise me. And you,” she said, turning to Lawrence, “I said you could help, but I didn’t say anything about those nasty Lucky Strikes!”

Lawrence’s eyes lit up the way they did when Anita came down the stairs. Predatory, Sarah thought. Anita told Sarah it was all right for Lawrence because he was Her Man.

Most men had that look when they saw Anita, even the white men.

“Why, Miss Sarah, I never knew you didn’t like Luckies,” Lawrence said, his grin fake apologetic as he stubbed out the butt and reached in his pocket for his cigarette case. He opened it up and showed Sarah an unusual sight.

“How many kinds you got in there, baby?” Anita said, hanging on his shoulder, and Sarah might not look like her older sister most of the time, but she knew they had a similar face when wondering what in the name of Lord Jesus Christ are you doing?

Lawrence’s cigarette case wasn’t some old flat-fifty, because he wanted something that wouldn’t ruin the line of his suit, he said. It only held twenty and it did right now, too, or nineteen. There was one other Lucky Strike, and next to that were two Shermans, and two Pall Malls, and two -

“What are you doing with Noah’s Ark in your pocket?” Anita asked, and Lawrence smiled.

“Well, Baby Sister here doesn’t like Luckies,” he said, ignoring Sarah’s usual (she could admit it, she asked him a lot not to call her that) complaint, “and that means if she lets them know that, that’s all she’ll be breathing at that lunch counter.”

Anita chose that moment to tug hard, and Sarah cried out, but it was more surprise than pain. Still she looked at Lawrence.

“I hate you,” she said, and went back to reading. She wanted to read the Bible, but she couldn’t bear the thought of someone spilling a chocolate milkshake on the same book Mama gave her at her baptism. And while Reverend Colson of Upon this Rock Covenant Church was offering bibles to be used, as they might give comfort to those participating (and were older and worn, due for replacement if the spring charity drive could raise the necessary funds), Sarah just could not imagine allowing any copy of The Word to be so abused. No, she’d read this old book of stories of Washington Irving’s. She liked it well enough, but she figured those she’d be opposed by (it was still hard to think of what she’d be doing as protest, but she understood there would be those opposed) wouldn’t be so quick to do anything to a book by a white man.

Anita wanted to be one of those at the counter, but along with her tender scalp was Lawrence, who had already been inside a jail or two in his day and he didn’t intend to go back. Sarah didn’t need it spelled out: at the first sign of someone laying a hand on Anita, Lawrence would be jumping up with his fists at the ready, and there would go the idea of a peaceful protest.

Anita would meet with her party tomorrow, over coffee, at a location that was still being worked on. She was told there were to be two white people, one male and one female, somewhere around her age. Jerome she already knew, and of all her worries about Saturday, the ones she had over Jerome were the most serious. She just couldn’t help but worry, all those years he’d been nothing but a boy in her class, and now he’d be next to her at the counter and who knew what would happen to him if this turned ugly?

Anita’s hand was on her shoulder, close in on her neck, and she squeezed that hard knot Sarah suddenly realized was her own muscles.

“You’re doing fine, Baby Sister,” Anita said. Sarah took a breath in and out, and nodded.

Lawrence lit up a Pall Mall and blew it at her before setting it in a groove in the ashtray and reached for an Old Gold. Best to have a few different ones, Sarah realized, and nodded again, turning her eyes to the page and forcing herself to read about a man who lost everything by sleeping, because Sarah was doing this wide awake and aware.
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