Hello. Please enjoy the last bit of the QUOTEnovelUNQUOTE I wrote last year. These last few hundred words of the novel are what happens before the rest of the novel begins.
Okay, I'll tell you! What happens is there's a big earthquake and Annabelle survives but her boyfriend Carl does not! Also, her mother Lori died a few years back. So, two dead people! This is really moving. Remember that it's really super moving. Her father dies in the earthquake, too, incidentally. Unbelievably moving. But we don't talk about him here. Thank God! You'd all have to run to the store for more Kleenexes partway through the post.
There's a part where it's all black. A black part. That is the INDESCRIBABILITY.
7:00 a.m. Annabelle is dreaming. She dreams that she is on an enormous cruise ship, in choppy waters. She and her mother are traveling together. Lori and Annabelle are shopping in the cruise ship's megacomplex mall. Annabelle is happy to be with her mother. She's aware that Lori died once, but Lori is here now so that is all that matters. That death must not have taken. Lori is not how Annabelle remembered her in life. This Lori is gossipy, bubbly, more like a girlfriend than an authority figure. In life, Annabelle's mother was warm but distant. Annabelle could get only so close to her, and then her mother would retreat. This Lori snuggles up to her, takes her arm while they shop. Annabelle is amazed and delighted. Lori has booked this cruise for them to be closer together. Now Lori is shopping for her, wants to buy her something special. A new outfit. Lori is showing her the sorts of things Annabelle used to wear. She has access to old clothes of Annabelle's, right in the shop. Underneath fluorescent lights, Lori rifles through one of these historical racks. Khakis, tee shirts, cotton sweaters from Annabelle's high school days. Inoffensive clothes that didn't stand out, invite praise or scorn. Lori looks at Annabelle to see if she understands. Annabelle isn't sure what she is supposed to understand. The ship sways a little. Annabelle recognizes this shop. It is like a Lerner's, or a Lamont's, a mini cruise ship version of the sort of store Annabelle and her mother shopped in during Annabelle's youth. Lori leads her out of the dingy shop with its overhead light, leads her by the arm down the main promenade, which is all glossy wood and potted trees and elegant track lighting. Lori is taking her somewhere new. Lori spontaneously gives Annabelle a kiss on the cheek. Suddenly Annabelle wants to stop and find a bench, snuggle up with her mother, climb on to her lap.
Annabelle is smaller than she was when the dream began, and younger. Lori looks at Annabelle with surprise, notes the change. Annabelle smiles up to her mother. She feels cozy, protected. Lori puts an arm around Annabelle's shoulder, kisses the top of her head. Lori looks a little bit sad. Lori leads them to the next shop with purpose. This shop is dim, candle-lit. The sorts of clothes here are the sorts that Annabelle the adult would never wear. Annabelle may be a child now in the dream, but she remains tethered to the fact of her daylight adult standing. These clothes are brightly colored, sexy, flowing. Annabelle expects to hate them, but she has a child's eye now and sees these as magnificent dress-up clothes. She could be a woman in them. Lori is searching for something among the tables, hanging along the walls. Lori is becoming distraught. Lori becomes haphazard. Annabelle watches her nervously. Lori grabs Annabelle, brings her over to a mirror. She piles gold necklaces around Annabelle's throat and chest. She pulls a long royal blue silk dress over Annabelle's head. The dress swims to the floor, pools around her. Lori grabs gold bangles and shoves them on both of Annabelle's wrists. The shopkeeper signals something to Lori. Annabelle sees Lori looks at the shopkeeper intensely, a plea. The shopkeeper shakes her head. Lori stands behind Annabelle at the mirror, grasps her shoulders, and the two of them look at Annabelle in the reflection. Annabelle thinks she looks like a painting, one of Klimt's ferocious ladies. Annabelle laughs. Lori is feverishly analyzing Annabelle to see if she has forgotten anything. "I'm sorry," says the shopkeeper, "We're closing." Lori bows her head. The ship sways severely. Annabelle loses her footing, reaches for Lori and finds that she has gone.
8:00 a.m. Annabelle wakes, remembers snatches of gold jewelry from her dream, has a brief hold on its entirety and then she stretches and the dream has evaporated. Annabelle lies still to see if the dream will come back. Someone was there. But morning and Annabelle's cool, warm sheets are physical and real, and Annabelle enters the day. Carl is next to her, asleep. The morning is still dark. Annabelle is not working today, but she has slept enough. Annabelle would like to get up, enjoy the quiet of the dawn. First she rolls over and looks at Carl. Carl has traveled lower on the bed than his pillow during the night. It rests at the top of his head like a large, kooky hat. Annabelle wants to wake him up and tell him about his hat, but she nestles into him instead. He murmurs, remains asleep. Carl smells vaguely sweet. Annabelle wraps his bare arm around her, bites into his bicep. She stays like that for a minute, with his arm stuffed in her wide-open mouth. She lies there blankly, peacefully. She imagines Carl's arm to be a life ring, the bed to be an ocean. She floats there and falls back asleep.
9:45 a.m. Carl is hurrying himself out of bed and swearing. Derek is out of town and Carl has forgotten to go and feed his cat. Mike will be waiting there, starving. Mike is a popular cat among their friends. A whole personality and backstory has been attributed to Mike. Mike is small, black and sleek. Mike can mix a mean martini, goes the lore. Mike was once arrested for protesting the WTO, rumor has it. He was maced in the face by a renegade cop. Mike is secretly writing a screenplay. Bad breakup? Tell Mike about it. He'll understand and advise. Mike does Derek's taxes each year. Mike also has political aspirations. Mike is probably looking for Carl and Annabelle's number as we speak. "Hold on, Mike," calls Carl out into the air, "I'm coming. Goddamnit." "Miiiike," says Annabelle. "Make him make you breakfast after you make his breakfast, " she counsels. "I'm not making him make me breakfast," says Carl. "I'm gonna make him fix my alignment." Carl has pulled on jeans, socks, a sweatshirt and a baseball cap. He has grabbed his navy sneakers, and he sits on the edge of the bed to put them on. Annabelle rolls out of bed and crouches on the floor in front of Carl. "I'm tying these guys," she says of his sneakers. "I am in the mood. I am going to tie your feet together. Then you'll have to stay here and make French toast." "Don't tie them together." "I will, a little." "Mike." "Miiiiike. Calm down, Mike." "Don't tie them like that." "Arrgh. Okay. I'm doing it right now. This will, check it out, this is an excellent tie. These babies shall not come untied. This is proper." "Do you really want French toast later?" "Yes!" "All right, baby. We'll have it. We'll make it or we'll go out." "Sweet." Carl is ready. Annabelle stands up and curls in for a hug. Carl hugs her. They have a small kiss. "Love you, bunny," she says. "Love you," he says. "Back in an hour. Like an hour. I might play a video game. Call me if you're getting too hungry." "I will." Carl grabs keys off the dresser, rounds into the living room and out the front door. Pa-chunk, says the door as he pulls it closed.
10:30 a.m. Now we know what kind of day it is. It's a sunny one. A cold, sunny one. Annabelle can see the day in front of her. Breakfast. Movie. Lounge around. A walk. Annabelle is almost dressed to go out for breakfast. She has jeans on, shoes on. In this load of laundry, she has that fluffy coat thing that she loves and will go out to breakfast wearing. She piles the laundry into the laundry basket, sizzling and staticky. The Blue Star, thinks Annabelle. French toast and an egg and hashbrowns. Not so fast. The Five Spot. Forager's Forest omelette. The Hi-Spot. Green Eggs and Ham. Bengal Curry Egg Thing. Big biscuit. Biscuit and jam. Jam and butter. Hello, Hi-Spot. Annabelle is calling Carl when she is done folding this laundry. The sun sneaks in the side window of the basement, touches Annabelle's head as she approaches the stairs.
10:32.a.m. The earthquake begins. Michael's sound is sounding. It's finally come.
Do you know that when a baby is ready to be born, it secretes a hormone that travels to the brain of the mother. The hormone is estrogen. Estrogen is womanliness. Then the mother's pituitary gland releases oxytocin, while the mother's womb prepares to receive it. Oxytocin is love, and the womb is your house. Your house becomes sensitive to love. God is where love is from. Your house becomes sensitive to God. Your house has become too small for you. You are pressing to get out. The shaking begins, so you can.