Going It Alone

This is part of another, longer almost-chapter, but this party scene is what I’m most proud of. The rest of the scene is still pretty rough, but let me know in the comments what you think the rest of the chapter is about!

Cupcake on a table
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

During the last birthday party Bailey had been dragged to, she stood by the food and chatted to Connor’s sisters and a few other parents. He had barely gotten himself some burger sliders before his oldest nephew ran up to his leg and collided with Connor’s knee. The little boy immediately started crying and rubbing his nose. His face got redder and redder as he cried, but Bailey couldn’t bring herself to coo words of comfort at him like the other adults who witnessed the crash.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Connor said, shoving the last bite of food into his mouth. “Look, man, that hurt me a lot more than it hurt you and if I can walk away, you can too.” He started walking away into the backyard, but a step into it and he did a dramatic pretend-limp before rolling onto the grass and grabbing at his knee. He kept rolling and complaining about the pain, and his nephew started giggling.

“I think Uncle Connor may feel better if you play the Mamma Possum game,” Connor’s sister Melanie said to her giggling son. No sooner had she said that and he was off, hopping on Connor’s back before he could get up. Connor’s act of being stuck and not being able to stand from the toddler wrestling him down should have been adorable to anyone else, but Bailey got bored just as other kids started lining up waiting for their turn to be baby possums. 

“Yeah, he won’t thank me for that one later,” Melanie said. “But my back and my knees cannot take that damn game anymore.”

“At least it’ll tire them out. And I really appreciate that the kids’ cupcakes are more carrot than cake, by the way,” another mom said. “I have a show to catch up on when we put them to bed tonight.”

“I hope you weren’t expecting Connor to be up to much tonight,” Melanie’s husband said. “He’ll be wiped after that and the game of tag one of them was yelling about.”

Bailey chuckled politely as she nibbled at an almost-carrot-cake cupcake.

“Are you guys going to start a family?” Melanie asked.

Bailey wiped icing off her mouth and realized the question was for her. She glanced from face to face, contemplating the seriousness of the intrusive question.

“He wants to,” she answered, “but we haven’t had the conversation in earnest. I don’t really know how I feel about kids.”

“Oh, everyone says that,” the same mom with the carrot cake remark said. “Before we had Kendra, every kid’s whiny voice grated in my ear, and I even switched tables at a restaurant once because this kid was screeching bloody murder.”

“But you’ll like your own,” Connor’s other sister Nina said. “At least on most days.”

“Oh for sure,” carrot-cake mom said. “They’re disgusting little monsters on the best day, but I would kill anyone for them.”

Not knowing where to look or what to contribute to the conversation, Bailey looked around for an exit. A drink that could be refilled, a plate needed clearing… until she caught Connor’s eye as he finally extracted himself from the toddlers.

Just when she thought he was coming to save her, he only handed her his phone. “Can you hold onto that? One of the kids almost stepped on it.”

“Aunt Bailey, wanna play tag?” The red-faced boy asked, tears well and fully dried. He had caught up to Connor with small but persistent steps.

“No, thank you,” Bailey said, wincing at the address. The little boy lost his smile, and he looked at her the way all kids seemed to look at her, with a mix of fear and confusion. The look on dogs when they encountered a cat.

“She doesn’t like to be called Aunt Bailey, bud,” Connor said. “Just Bailey, ‘member?”

The boy put his hand in his mouth and looked around. Would it be acceptable for her to do the same?

“Yes,” he said through his fist.

“Get your hand out of your mouth and go round up the other kids for tag,” Connor said. The little boy ran off giggling. Connor turned to look at Bailey, but the smile he had for her wasn’t the same as the one he’d had for the kids. Everyone was still giggling at the Aunt Bailey remark, and he kissed her cheek before jogging to meet the kids assembling for tag. She hoped no one had seen how she turned her face as he approached her.

“Probably wise to wait to have that conversation, it looks like,” the carrot cake mom spoke again. She looked around at the other adults as she laughed at her own joke. “Looks like he’ll want more than one by the looks of it.”

“Yeah, and having siblings is so pivotal. I mean, the times I wanted to kill Connor and Nina sometimes, but – ” Melanie said. She quickly turned to look at Bailey and her face lost the smile as quick as her son had. “Oh shit, Bailey, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Bailey said. “You’re right. Having siblings is pretty important. Will you excuse me?”

She walked away and waved Connor’s phone with a smile, hoping no one saw she had pockets she could store it in instead of her handbag.

Melanie would appreciate the space to explain her faux pas, although remarks like that hardly bothered Bailey anymore. She was more bothered about the Aunt Bailey comment.

First Sneak Peek into My Novel

This is the first peak into my work-in-progress novel. One of the reasons I started this blog was to have more ways to be held accountable to finish it, or at least to finish a draft of it, so I’m sharing an excerpt here. It has undergone a massive replotting, and I think this version works better in terms of characterization and storytelling as a whole. What didn’t change, however, is the main plot: a woman discovers she’s pregnant with twins and decides to journey into single-motherhood. A twin herself, she explores sisterhood as her pregnancy progresses, reflecting on her former life with her deceased sister.

The scene below is a snippet of the first scene I rewrote after replotting and re-planning. It is also the first scene I wrote after a very long break from writing creatively. I’m not entirely happy with how it turned out, but I’d like to have an entire draft manuscript before hacking away in the editing process.

Happy reading!

Image of white coffee cup on wooden table

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Chinese Food

She made her way up the three-story walk-up, glad she’d postponed her grocery shopping trip until tomorrow when she’d be wearing more sensible shoes. She opened the door and Connor was there, looking at an open moving box on the coffee table and swirling keys in his hand.

“I thought you said you’d be gone by the time I came back.”

“And since when are you home before seven?”

“Since I wanted to come back and be alone with my Chinese food.”

She set her paper bag that had already started seeping through with grease on the kitchen island and leaned on the edge, kicking off her shoes. She was starving and wanted to dig in, thinking she smelled the kung pao chicken.

He looked at the moving box, she looked at him. She crossed her arms.

“I should go,” he said.

“Yes, you should.”

“Why is this so easy for you?” he asked, throwing the keys in the box and looking at her. “Why can you just get Chinese food, come home on time for once and just—”

“Go on? What, did you want me to cry for you? Not go into work, look a mess and wait for you to come get your shit?”

“Six years, Bailey. Six years we were together, and I propose to you and you say no and you’re the one who needs to be left alone?”

“Can you please just leave?” She smelled the wonton soup now, and if she didn’t eat that first and soon, she may as well throw it out.

He flopped onto the couch, pulling the box closer to him on the coffee table and putting his head in his hand. She rolled her eyes and went to the fridge. Two IPAs – she finally won’t have to buy those anymore and put up with the bloating. She took both, popping one open and setting it the furthest away from her on the dining table. She opened the other one and took a sip as she got some cutlery out.

She started eating and he started sniffling, but just as she was about to say something, he stood up and grabbed the beer. She looked straight ahead, chewing and slurping on the lukewarm soup, ignoring his eyes on her.

“I want to hate you,” he said. “But I’m just so sad.”

She shrugged her shoulders and drank the last of the broth.

He moved toward her and set the beer down. He took her face in his hands and pushed the food bag away.

Where was this yesterday?

That look hadn’t been in his eyes for months, that hungry look, when she could see the different specs of color in his hazel eyes that sometimes looked blue.

“This won’t change anything,” she said, standing up. His hands moved from her face to her hair.

“I know. It’s fine.”

But he didn’t know and it wasn’t fine. That look would be gone as soon as he was finished, along with whatever conviction he pulled together when he saw her indifference. But she meant what she said – one more time together wouldn’t change anything for her. The kung pao chicken tasted better reheated anyway.