Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bucking Orders - #fridayflash

Tien watched me over the rim of her tea cup. Stan peeled layers from a croissant, slathering each piece with raspberry jam from one of the tiny jars spread before him on the linen table cloth, his earlier disapproval seemingly vanquished with the formal offer. My foot tapped while he decanted a daunting list of to-dos for me: pack glassware, measure the new labs, order furniture and equipment, crate the micro-PET machine, scout out neighborhoods, archive and box up our files.

“Shall I finish your holiday shopping, too?” I asked.

Stan’s lips pursed. Tien rubbed her calf against mine, warning me.

“We all have a lot to do over the next two months,” he said. “The trials need setting up, grant proposals and manuscripts need writing. The move’s a necessary pain in the ass. So prioritize. We'll pack up the Boston lab after the New Year. Now, focus on outfitting the new labs and lining up condos for Tien and I to look at when we return. The weekend was a bust, there’s crap in Mount Vernon. Look into Fells Point, Federal Hill. Maybe Canton. You writing all this down?”

I tapped my forehead. Stan looked dubious.

“Anyway, two days gives you plenty of time to scout out suitable townhouses.”

“Row houses,” Tien said. “That’s what they call them here.”

“Whatever, just find me one with ceilings taller than me and under 500k.” He pushed the basket of pastries across the table. “You’re looking too skinny these days. Eat.”

I poured another coffee from the carafe and disregarded the basket. They babbled about Chicago, Tien nodding at his every word. They were babysitting me; I knew it, they knew it. The whole weekend Tien hadn’t let me out of her sight. I pulled the Sunday paper towards me and pretended to read the sports section.

Stan insisted I accompany them to the airport. The ride was quiet.

We approached departures. Tien patted my knee, then gathered the purse and laptop cluttered at her feet. The cab pulled curbside.

“See you in two days,” Tien said and opened her door.

Two days. The cab rocked as the trunk emptied. No kiss goodbye, Tien was already walking towards the terminal. Outside, Stan peeled off several bills and handed them to the cabbie.

Gone, they’re almost gone. The driver settled into the front seat. My body unfurled in relief. The side front door opened.

Stan leaned into the open window. “Take him back to the Marriott," he said to the driver. "I gave you double fare plus tip.”

The door slammed. Stan wheeled his suitcase, flipped his cell phone. The cab pulled from the curb. I dug into my backpack for my wallet and fluttered a twenty over the seatback.

“Penn Station,” I said.

Once on the train, I crashed, hard. When I woke two hours later, I texted Dinesh again. The train barreled past New Rochester and momentary guilt panged -- I should help my sister pack up my Mother's belongings. But I didn’t have time. It seemed I never had time for the important things.


Excerpted from PURE, a novel under cosmetic surgery. I love this scene because it's the first time Ben rebels against his colleagues.

And while you're here -- CHECK OUT THE THIRTY DAYS OF GRATITUDE CONTEST. Help yourself, and help others in need, too. Peace, Linda


  1. Good story. This certainly looks like it's going to be an excellent novel.

  2. Agreed! I want to know exactly what he is rebelling against, there are all these juicy tantalizing details. And I want to know where he's going on the train and why. I'm also very curious why they're baby-sitting him - Ben must've done something to indicate his desire to rebel.

    Great flash as always :)

  3. I love the verb choices here: decant, pursed, unfurled. They seem so perfect and descriptive. Lots of tension between these two which of course piques my interest..I am and have been..sufficiently teased and fascinated by this troy - is it Kindle yet???

  4. Tha;^)nks for reading, folks! I was working on this chunk this week and didn;t have time to put out a proper flash. MJ, happy you liked my verbs. Kindle? No. Not until I get's me my agent. But I will happily let you be a beta reader ;^)

    Speaking of... Chrys, first half 2 day fed-exed to you today. Smooch! Peace...

  5. Tight and suspenseful. Left me with a head full of questions wanting to know more. Good job.

  6. So I read your first line, about the croissants, and I realize I'm hungry, and there are croissants in the cupboard for breakfast tomorrow... and so I get them out and Dave and Angus and I pig out on them at 11:09 p.m. Mmmmmm... guess it's toast for breakfast.
    Oh yeah, and your story was really good, too! LOL...
    Even better than the croissants!
    (And that's saying a lot.)

  7. Nice teaser for the novel. The writing is clean and tight. Good luck with the surgery!

  8. If this is anything to go by, I supsect there won't be much cosmetic work to be done, and that it will be non-surgical - a gentle face peel maybe. Very tight writing, Linda. I love these excerpts

  9. Find a moment today to thank a few lucky stars for that amazing ability of yours to write natural dialogue. It is a gift.

    Love this scene. Novel soon please.

  10. Great writing here. I'm hooked... I MUST have more! :)

    Jim <--- my #fridayflash if you care to read!

  11. "It seemed I never had time for the important things." Such a telling last line-an intimate peek into the psyche of your MC. I love these excerpts.

  12. Thanks all for reading! maria, thank you for popping by! Ah Cathy, you so make me laugh... hope you spread some nutella on those croissant!

    Danielle -- no surgery for me. Thank goddess.

    Lou, thanks as always. Not a gift, just lots of edits. Lots. And Mazzz, thanks for your vote of confidence, but there are plenty of holes that need filling and scenes that need hatchet jobs. I am still a good eyar from final final.

    GP, I'm always happy when you grace my pages. Thank you.

    Jim, heading on over -- yours wasn't up when I was coasting last night (and now i am, ahem, working. The day job. Shhhhh...).


  13. I'm with Michael. I really liked the verb choices as wel. They said so much about what was going on behind the action. Love these teasing little pieces.

  14. I'm happy to see the old Ben surfacing a bit and rebelling.
    He needs to --with what those two are doing to him. :)

  15. I just came through NY's Penn Station. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, not even fictional people.

    Sorry again I missed you in Maryland, Linda.

  16. Thanks for reading Laurita, Kim, and John! Ben has a heart and a conscience -- he just needs to locate them. WHich is his struggle in PURE.

    I heart Penn Station. It's so amazingly chaotic. it's fun with a coffee and nowhere else to go. Now passing through... HEADACHE!

    Happy almost weekend, and peace... Linda

  17. Great stuff, Linda. I am looking forward to Pure - you've got writing talent and with persistence, you will succeed.
    Enjoyed the subtle conflict in this.

  18. I'm reading along, really enjoying the dialogue, the tension, the just plain excellent writing, and then... it's over. And then you say it's an excerpt of a novel in progress. And I'm happy, because I'm totally buying it when it comes out. :)

    Great piece.

  19. Like Mr. Solender, I, too, am "sufficiently teased" ... Hope to see more soon.

  20. Interesting characters. I'm drawn to the protagonist who appears to be over-protected by his colleagues. Nice writing.

  21. Thanks all for reading! gracie, you so made me smile - thank you! Aidan, overlorded by his colleagues more like it. This is a story of corruption and nastiness i nthe ivory tower. But so happy you like my protag -- I heart him myself. And a good thing cuz I've lived with him since 1/2006. Peace...

  22. There's wonderful tension in this piece. It's almost possible to feel the protagonist steeling himself against the urge to throw something.

    I have to read this whole novel. The glimpses you've given are way too good.

  23. Adding to the fanbasery here. You know we dig. My body unfurled in relief. You invent new ways to move, doll. Great stuff.

  24. I love these little peeks through the blinds at you novel. Can't wait until it comes out and I don't have to be a peeping Jon anymore.

    What I like best, beyond your mastery of language itself, is the complex characters you have created. They all feel very real.

  25. Brilliant, per usual Linda. I am so anxious for this novel to be on the shelves. I'll be the first in line, even if I have to shove. :)