no explanation necessary

In the bedroom of her Upper Least Side apartment, Parker Pryne opened the bottle of Prosecco she’d brought back from Positano the previous summer.  She was saving it, refrigerated, for a special occasion, and when one never came, and while she was in need of an adult beverage she said, “Fuck it,” but she said it in Italian. 

Parker was accustomed to need, so much so that she forced herself to do without.  It was her diet, willing herself to be alone.  Almost.  Her almost is her "could be" Jack.  She won’t refer to Jack as her boyfriend because she finds the term dim and lifeless after having had a fiance and husband.  She stows away the rings from that earlier life in her family vault.  She’ll use the money when something extraordinary happens.  Parker is always waiting for extraordinary, for extraordinary and for Jack. "Could be’s" don’t count in the battle against alone; they’re eating while standing up.

Jack makes a pained face when she mentions her past.  The casual way she mentions previous vacations and dinners while picking at her split ends sickens him.  Her previous, any of it, he wishes she’d just swallow, despite knowing it’s part of who she is now. That’s the way it goes, right?  The past makes us.  He tells himself so but doesn’t believe it.  He also doesn’t believe Parker isn’t her real name. Mid-sentence sometimes, when she’s talking, he thinks of this, how she one day just decided to change her name.  Not formally, just mid-life, something new she wanted.  She was deciding between Parker and Fig, names no one but an actor would have.  She thinks it makes her seem important.  White.  Spoiled.  Like she owns expensive shoes but doesn’t have to wear them. 

He’s waiting for her with a live-in girlfriend these days, but Parker knows that would change if she were more convincing.  As it is, he confides in Parker of their lack of sex, or dirty sex, admitting he sometimes imagines he’s with her.  He tells her things like this via IM, where most of their relationship happens lately.  He types in turn, spreading the details of his latest fight in small neat lines.   And when he can’t sleep, he imagines she’s beside him, and it soothes him.  And he tells her this, but not over IM; he saves it for phone calls when he’s drunk in the back of a cab sitting in a string of red lights.  And these are her favorite calls.  She remembers in these assuring moments, she can have him whenever she wants.  And knowing it lets her be lazy, lets her live in now knowing there’s always the comfort of then.  She can have him in her world in a word.

Fiona, the live-in, lives with it in their walls, in their bed, in the mirror.  She smooths her hair with an oversized round brush wondering if she’s letting her past creep into her life, if she’s just being paranoid. Does it show in the lines on her face, the ones her mother insists she Botox.  She’s insecure, and if she just stopped fearing Parker, building her into something grander than even Parker can imagine, it would all go away.  "Fuck it," Fiona says aloud as she leaves the bathroom in direct route to the wine cellar that is the lower half of her closet, where shoes belong.  Prosecco, she decides because it’s sweet and celebratory and nothing like her life.  Wait, she already has a bottle saved in the fridge.   She wonders how long she’ll last, how long she’ll give it, and knows there’s no point in wondering.  She hangs on, like life, and lets him choose theirs.

COMMENTS:

  1. I certainly didn't expect to see 'Positano' in the first sentance of this post! I live there (here). Did you come to visit when you were in Italy?

  2. Love it. You have such a way with words. I hope fiction – assuming this is so – is one of your next adventures!

  3. Do I smell a novel coming our way?

    I love this:

    "Could be's" don't count in the battle against alone; they're eating while standing up.

    And now I want some Preosecco.

  4. Beautifully written, Stephanie. If this was an excerpt, I would have rushed out to buy the book at lunch today :)

  5. It's interesting that you could take your past blogs, for example, but name them someone else and it'd be another person's life? Just changing some scenery.

    This was fun.

  6. I'm intrigued by the Pryne/Prynne possibilities here. Nice callback, totally appropriate (based on what you've shared so far).

  7. mmmm…pryne. so very scarlet letterish of you, my dear. this actually sounds like an old blog of yours, as relates to a friend (who i recall was beaten up terribly by your readers) who had an interesting text messaging relationship with some guy who was engaged, or at least very serious, with another woman. hmmmm…

    this was good, but i like your reality/real life writing better. nearly anyone can write a good "beach book".

  8. For the first time, on this blog atleast, you have stepped outside of your comfort zone. Well thought & carried out, I must say. But why the alliterative word games? They merely distract.

  9. You do realize Parker Pryne is a famous Agatha Christie character, right?

    Maybe you should go with Fig.

  10. Reminds me of THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN by Claire Messud. I couldn't get past the first paragraph of that either. The writing is too self-conscious.

  11. Stephanie, this was fantastic. This was more satisfying than a warm brownie sundae! I love reads like this!

  12. The old adage 'write what you know' serves best. Very few authors can create convincing portrayals outside of their actual realm of experience. Hence the 'write what you know.' Someone here pointed out the preference for your life based material, perhaps that is one reason why?

  13. "Write what you know"…
    It seems to me you've done exactly that, only you've stepped beyond your comfort zone in writing third person. I think it works quite nicely, with some great turns of phrase…

    "White. Spoiled. Like she owns expensive shoes but doesn't have to wear them." Such a brilliant line.

    "He types in turn, spreading the details of his latest fight in small neat lines." What a great telling detail about their relationship. If you ever write a novel or some short stories, I'll be first in line for 'em.

  14. I love how you flipped things in the end. It made me realize what you were trying to do. That Parker is actually Fiona. They're the same person. It's why they say the same thing and drink the same thing and you let us know Parker's name is made up. I love reading it that way, and love reading it straight, as if Fiona really does wonder about some friend of Jack's. It's all, the entire thing, her perception from different angles. So well done. I'd buy any fiction of yours.

  15. Why did you chose to use a character name already made famous by Agatha Christie?

    FROM STEPHANIE: Totally random, as it happens. I've never read any Agatha.

  16. Nice work Stephanie. And on a side note, something my mother taught me, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"

  17. Amazing. Nothing that anyone else hasn't said. Your words flow beautifully. Good luck if you're working on a novel. Remember—–LOTS of espresso makes the brain work harder! ;)

  18. Your fans are very sweet, but don't be fooled… this is NOT well written, even for frothy chick lit. Makes Plum Sykes look like William Faulkner.

  19. per Amy's "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all": sadly, if you think this, or any blog for that mater, or jeezzz…the real world, is a place for only kiss ass comments, you are sadly deluded. honesty is the best policy. sometimes it hurts (like a bitch, actually!!). yet, in the long run, it's like a drink of cold water on a hot & sticky day. . . absolutely refreshing…

  20. Oh flip, what did you mean "I love how you flipped things in the end."? I thought it was Fiona living with Parker being in Jack's head while she lives with him?

  21. Where else can you find so many self loving people that read a f*cking blog post which you make no representations about and they critique it like it's hemingway? Perspective people…

  22. "He also doesn't believe Parker isn't her real name." Oy.
    Yeah, sorry, Stephanie- this isn't very good. Your writing is much, much better when you don't try so hard.

  23. I like that you are trying different writing styles, and sharing them with us. I bet if you would have categorized this post, it would have fallen under "writing exercises". My husband says that I am a great cook, but every once in a while I try a new recipe and the meal totally bombs. It makes me wonder why people put certain ingredients together, and then I remember that we all have different tastes. Some people may like, or dislike this post. I, for one, enjoyed it.

  24. I am not a "hater", but I going to have to agree with the few other posters who have pointed out that this piece is not well written…

    It's sappy, trite and trying just a bit too hard.

  25. Normally I enjoy the straight-forward, personal style of your writing, but this is very hard to follow. "Her previous, any of it, he wishes she'd just swallow, despite knowing it's part of who she is now." Huh? I kept getting lost, going back, rereading and I still am not sure what you are trying to say.

  26. You are officially my idol! I love the way you write. Idol, I say!!!

  27. Actually, I liked the "He also doesn't believe Parker isn't her real name" line in context. It worked. And quite honestly, I think it all flowed really well. And I love the ambiguity of it, the fact that it can be read straight, and also read FIGHT CLUB, as if "Parker" is really Fiona, as someone said earlier.

    Thank you for pushing yourself and letting us in on it. Please don't stop because of critical comments. Thank God we're all entitled to our opinions because in mine, you're a gifted writer and I always look forward to whatever you write.

  28. YOUR blog, YOUR thoughts, YOUR creative writing attempts.

    heh…then you get all these comments-critiques. Doesn't some tiny part of you want to scroll thru, and critique the comments!!!?

  29. For the record, I wasn't hating either. I agree with a commenter a few weeks back who noted that Stephanie seems to have matured as a writer, grown more thoughtful, since becoming a wife and mother. For my part, I know that new motherhood has turned me inside out in a variety of ways- anyway, I have been truly enjoying Stephanie's blog entries over the past few months. This entry is an exception, however- labored, self-conscious, hard to follow.
    I would think Stephanie would welcome such constructive criticism. If not, she should close the comments.

  30. Hey, it would be fun to read about these people once in a while! Kinda makes me think of "Guy Noir" who sometimes shows up and sometimes doesn't, but is always having adventures. Not exactly a solilquy, I don't know the right word! Sketch maybe?

    Anyway, for me it was a nice break.

    The mommy stuff is fine for mommies and soon-to-be's, or wanna-bees, but for those of us still hung up on "Sex in the City" it's not riveting. I bet your audience is changing a lot right now. I bet I'm not the only one losing interest because of new focus of your blog. And I bet you've picked up a bunch of new fans too!

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