I'd rather refer to my project as a 50,000-plus-word story. Not that I've written 50,000 words -- that (50,000) is the goal, because a 49,999-word story is one word short of a novel.
I cagily evade inquiries regarding the aforementioned project, refusing to share so little as a sentence with even my closest friends and family members. This thing is personal to me. It's part of me like my children are part of me. The idea of putting it out there turns my stomach inside out.
I can write and share a million diatribes against myself with little angst -- I prize my self-deprecating humor highest of all my attributes.
I'm not nearly so comfortable with my serious bits.
Please keep that in mind -- that I'm letting go of a piece of this project for the first time in three years. And now that I've hyped this thing to ridiculous heights with this stupid preamble. I present to you an excerpt from my 50,000-plus-word story.
Warren Dietrich arrived home at 6 p.m. It was warm for September. The thermometer on his dash read 98 degrees. He hoped that his wife had left the air on inside, but he knew she hadn’t. He wasted little energy deciphering his wife’s motives these days as she’d grown so impertinent and unpleasant that reconciliation was dubious at best.
He was not at all surprised to find the house dark and stifling. Nor was he surprised by the strong smell of bleach that underscored the absence of his dinner. It was commonplace now – after years of coming home to warm and delicious smelling meals – to find his wife, Joanna, flipping through a magazine in the kitchen or gone from the house altogether – no apology or note and no dinner in either case.
Warren was tired of bag-style lunches for dinner, but he grudgingly procured the necessities for his meal from the pantry – tuna fish, two slices of stale white bread, and pickled green beans which he ate cold from the can. He sat down at the kitchen table livid. Joanna’s behavior was intolerable. It was her duty as a wife – a pastor’s wife – to tend to her husband’s comforts. How could Warren with any authority advise the men in his parish to manage their households when his own wife was so completely out of his control? The revelation was most disturbing as it showed him in a weak light before the whole community.
He pounded his fist on the table and was overcome at the same time by a splitting headache. Perhaps more grateful now than angry that his wife neglected dinner – he would surely be wearing it as vomit under the circumstances – he closed his eyes. He noticed when he woke on the floor that a chair was knocked over beside him. The room seemed altered. The bright scent of lemons and bleach from the freshly mopped tile was eroded by a hot, coppery odor. The floor felt warm and sticky beneath his back. He was aiming to sit up when the kitchen door creaked open.
“Joanna,” he whispered. “Thank God.”
* * *