This is the second in a series of three that I wrote in the first or second draft of the novel and then removed or condensed. (See the tour schedule for the remaining scenes). Though I’ve been sorely tempted (it feels a little like showing up to a party in a slip), I have not altered these sections from their original in their content or wording. I did clean typos and, for the ease of readers, changed all the characters’ names to their final names, as opposed to the many names they have had in the various iterations. (Seriously, so many that my critique groups forget who became who).
This scene took place on what is around p. 26 of the book now, right after Christian tells Jace that they will discuss what he needs to do to let Jace live with him. Christian then leaves the apartment and that’s where this scene picks up.
He closes the door, and I watch the lock turn. After I’ve heard Lianne’s door close, I scream – a long, wordless shriek.
Is acting like a jack-ass genetic? Is it a trait on the Y-chromosome?
Somewhere, there’s a genetic engineer in a white, lab coat hunkered over a microscope. A light-bulb pops on over his head, and he looks up – revelation in his eyes. “I’ve isolated the jack-ass gene. If we can merge it with the DNA of a peaceful creature, say the dove, we’ll evolve into a better species.” Yeah, that’s the ticket, Doc. Advancement by mutation.
Back to reality. My bio teacher always says that, “Back to reality, Mr. Witherspoon.” There’s only one thing to do when I get this jittery. In the backseat of my Golf, I have a soccer ball. I need to find a place to shoot. I grab a book, slide into my sneakers, and head downstairs. Before I leave the locked door that Christian buzzed me in last night, I prop it open with the book.
The sky is rich blue and high above me. Mountains stretch on the horizon, surrounding me, and the land slants like I’m standing inside a tilt-a-whirl. I’m experiencing vertigo in reverse. I push my feet against the cement. I weigh 165 pounds, quite enough to keep me grounded. One peak rises up, like the John Hancock Building. A skyline of mountains bridges blue-to-earth.
I get the ball from the car and tuck it under my arm. Now, where to kick it?
I return to the apartment and knock on 4C. See if Lianne is in. She is wearing a big U of Chicago T-shirt and a pair of black leggings that show off the skinny curves of her calves.
“Hi, Jason,” She says.
“Jace,” I correct her. It’s not a nickname or anything. It’s on my birth certificate that way. So, Christian’s been talking a lot about me, huh?
“Listen, I’m just looking for a field.” I lift up the soccer ball in explanation.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll drive you over. You can practice at my high school.”
“Your high school?” I repeat, looking her over. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell age, but high school?
“I’m an English teacher.”
“Too far to walk?” I ask, not really wanting to spend time with her.
“Everything’s too far to walk here. Besides, I’m not going to bite you.”
I remember how she looked when she opened Christian’s door last night. Bite, no; bat, yes.
“Don’t you need to go to work?”
“Not on a Sunday, no.” She laughs, but I’m too disoriented to join her.
I started from Chicago on Friday night? Saturday night? It blurs together. If it’s Sunday, then Lauren doesn’t even know I’m gone, yet. She hasn’t gone to Chemistry and sat down at the four-person lab table with Marisa and Edward.
Lauren and I would come early and kiss good morning with coffee on our breath. Then, she would fish out a tictac for me to suck to sliver before she would lay her lips against mine once more. If it’s Sunday, she hasn’t come late to avoid me, and found another place to sit after the Starbucks scene. Right now, she’s probably sitting at home with Kali purring on her lap, trying to study for her American History exam. Maybe, she’s brushing a strand of hair from her face. She might be telling herself that she is not waiting for the phone to ring. Not waiting to hang up on me.
Thanks so much Swati!
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