Fall To Pieces, August 8, 2011
Joan Marshall stiffened as footsteps sounded on the stairs and then onto the kitchen tiles. Bleach splashed across the counter top, instantly opening a patch of brilliant white laminate in the sea of tea, coffee, and assorted food stains that marred its surface. She scrubbed at a stubborn stain and ignored her husband’s entrance.
A hand fell onto her shoulder, squeezing gently. “I’m turning in, you coming?”
Joan shrugged off Mark’s hand and applied her sponge to the stovetop. “Yes, after I finish cleaning the kitchen, put the sheets into the dryer, and pull something from the freezer for tomorrow’s supper.”
Mark nuzzled her neck, his sigh ruffling her hair. “You have to do all of that tonight?”
She huffed. “As a matter of fact, I do. In case you’ve forgotten, your brother and his family are visiting this weekend and they arrive tomorrow night.”
“I didn’t forget, but you have all day tomorrow –“
“That’s right!” Joan slammed the sponge down and whirled to face her husband. “Joan can do it. She’s home all damn day, and it’s not like she’s working –“
“For Christ’s sake, Joan, I know you work, but –“
“But nothing!” She stormed across the kitchen and jerked the freezer door open. “For your information, I have not one, but two novels due to my editor in three weeks and it isn’t as if I get any help –“
“Oh, whatever Joan.”
She spun around as she heard him moving away. “You’re leaving?”
Mark shrugged and kept walking. “Some of us have to get up in the morning …”
Joan gasped. “Fine! I’ll do it all myself; as usual.”
“That’s right, poor Saint Joan. Always the martyr...” He walked out, his words filling the empty air behind him.
Joan slammed the dryer door closed, flipped off the kitchen light, and entered her bedroom. She fumbled to undress in the pitch darkness and slid into bed. She rolled to face Mark, laying her hand on his bare back. He grunted and scooted closer to the edge, his body never breaking the steady rhythm of sleep.
She sighed. Even in sleep he held onto his anger. Not that she blamed him. Joan flipped onto her back and stared at the ceiling. Why had she done it? The evening had been peaceful, if uneventful, and Mark had made it clear he wasn’t turning in early because of exhaustion. So why had she felt it necessary to pick a fight?
The arrival of Mark’s family was just an excuse. Truth be told, she was restless and had been for weeks. She’d convinced herself the pressure of having two erotic romance novels due a week apart had pushed her to the limit but she knew it went deeper than that.
Joan bit her lip. She didn’t feel romantic, let alone sexy, and trying to write romance, much less erotic romance in such a situation … she was suffering from a bad case of writer’s block and nothing she did seemed to appease her alter ego; Lola Banks, mildly successful author of erotic romance, was on strike.
She rolled over and snuggled her pillow. What she needed was a vacation or even a wild night on the town with her husband; her muse was screaming for release from the domestic rut that was the reality for the real Joan. Like that was going to happen!
She snorted and closed her eyes. A full day of housework loomed and the deadlines weren’t going away. Ms. Lola Banks would just have to put on her big girl panties and deal.
As she drifted off to sleep a shiver ran through her body. She pulled the covers up to her chin and moved closer to Mark’s warmth as a saying of her grandmother’s flashed through her mind; someone must’ve walked over her grave.
Joan gritted her teeth as another burst of laughter penetrated the walls of her office. She stared at the white screen of her computer and counted to ten. She dragged a hand through her hair and cranked up the volume on her mp3 but, while it drowned out the chipper sounds coming from the dining room, it contributed nothing to her efforts at putting words onto the page.
She slammed her hand onto her desk and shoved away from the desk. “Damn the stubborn bitch!”
Joan whipped around as a hand fell onto her shoulder. She pulled off her earbuds and shook her head. “Nah, my muse.” She rolled her shoulders and massaged her neck. “Damn thing has gone on vacation or something.”
Mark nodded and replaced her hands with his. Joan sighed as his strong fingers dug into the knotted muscles of her back and shoulders. “That’s wonderful, but not gonna help me get any work done.” She rolled her chair back to the desk and placed her fingers onto the keyboard.
Mark glanced at the blank screen and sighed. “You’ve been in here all evening with nothing to show for it. Why not take a break and visit with the family? Everyone is asking about you …”
Joan stiffened but bit back a sharp retort. It wasn’t his fault or his family’s, and he had a point; she wasn’t making much progress anyway. “Ok, but just a short break.”
She switched off the desk lamp and rose from her chair. “Who knows? Maybe a glass of wine will loosen me up my muse!”
Joan flipped off the light and stumbled from the bathroom. She could kick herself for wasting so much time. Playing charades had been a fun way to spend the evening but it had contributed nothing to her word count, much less appeased her recalcitrant muse. Joan snorted. At the rate she was going, her fickle muse was likely to vacate the premises, permanently.
Halfway across the darkened bedroom everything began to spin. She stopped and clutched the footboard until the world righted itself and then made her way to the bed, sinking onto the mattress with exaggerated care.
Whew. One glass of wine shouldn’t have that kind of effect. She closed her eyes but the oblivion of sleep remained elusive. The silence, and her muse, beckoned her to return to her desk. She considered it for a minute, searching her mind for a good opening to the chapter she’d struggled with for a week, but nothing came to mind.
She rolled onto her side and snorted. Elvis, or in her case, Lola, had left the building.
A sharp pain suddenly shot through her head and her skin felt clammy. She gulped and forced herself to take measured breaths until the ache subsided. Her body grew heavy as sleep rose to claim her. Sinking into unconsciousness, she barely gave a thought to the sound of a door closing down the hall.
Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion to What Lola Wants and if you missed any Digital Digest posts you can purchase a copy of Digital Digest Anthology Volumes I and II or subscribe to the Digital Digest blog via Kindle and never miss a thing!
Suspense ... Southern Style.
Ring of Lies available at The Wild Rose Press
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Copyright © 2011 Rachel Lynne
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.