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Plaster of Paris; chapter twelve, part two

I dress with extra care the next morning and even apply a little makeup since my face looks wan from lack of sleep.  I don’t wear any of the five outfits I had in mind last night.  Instead, I pull on a silvery-gray skirt, black tights, a black blouse and whatever accoutrements I think will match.  I brush my hair until it shines, then peer at myself anxiously in the mirror.  I’m not usually self-conscious about my looks, knowing that I’m put together in a way that is pleasing to most eyes.  Short—five-two—curvy, with glossy black hair, dark brown eyes and full lips.  I turn heads when I walk down the street, unless I’m with Paris, of course, who is truly stunning.  Thinking about him brings me down to earth and away from my romantic aspirations.  My mother nods approvingly at my outfit as I gobble down my breakfast.  I am late for work, my sleep pattern being so erratic as of late.  I arrive just in time to be pointedly ignored by my colleagues.  I plunge into my work in order to not feel the shunning so deeply.  I have an email from Libby that is so unlike her normal self, I read it twice.


I don’t know why I’m writing this to you except that I have no one else to talk to about this.  If any of my friends knew, they would say I’m crazy.  Any girl would be lucky to have a fiancé as wonderful as Wallace.  He is gainfully-employed, remembers important dates, treats me as an equal, and has the same ambitions as do I.  He is also sinfully handsome.  In other words, everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a man.  I know, I can hear you saying, so what’s your problem, Lib, in that snotty tone of yours you use when you think you’re so superior. 

The problem is, I’m not sure I want to get married.  Certainly not now, and maybe not ever.  I look at Wallace and think, is this it?  I mean, I’m very happy with him—don’t get me wrong.  I just wonder if I’m too young.  He’s only my first serious boyfriend.  Rayne, I don’t know what to do.  The wedding is in three months.  The reason I’m e-mailing you is because you’ve always been so damn nontraditional—like Mom and Dad.  Everyone will hate me if I stop the wedding.  Help me.  Libby.

I stop reading and look around me.  The world is still spinning on its axis.  I am still persona non grata at work making shitty money for a shitty job.  Nothing has changed except my sister is asking for my help.  I think back, trying to remember the last time she asked me for anything.  I can’t recall it ever happening, though it must have at some time.  I tap my keyboard idly, thinking of what to say to her.  Wouldn’t she be surprised if she knew that my immediate reaction was, ‘Hold on to him and never let go.’  I want to tell her that when love comes, you have to make the most of it because you don’t know when it will come your way again.  I realize, however, that the rate at which I’ve lost people from my life in the last few months has skewed my perspective, and I don’t write any of what I’m thinking.  I think more carefully before coming up with a response.

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Plaster of Paris; chapter twelve, part one

“Let’s go talk,” Lyle says, grabbing me by the arm.  With a wave at the others, he steers me to the cafeteria.

“Isn’t it great, Lyle?”  I say, a goofy smile on my face.

“I forgot to tell you about Ursula,” Lyle says as soon as we sit down.  Neither of us is hungry, but I grab a piece of chocolate pie anyway.  Lyle has a monster cookie which he is munching.  Both of us have coffee as well.

“Ursula?”  I look at him blankly.

“Paris’s birthmother,” Lyle prods my memory.  “I never told you about our talk.”              “Shit!  That’s right!  Dish,” I order.  Lyle spills all he knows.  As we guessed, Ursula tried to feint and dodge, but Lyle’s charm finally won her over.  To a certain extent.  She confessed that she had talked to Paris’s birthfather ‘once or twice’ since the blessed event, but refused to divulge his name or where he lived, saying it wasn’t relevant.  She admitted to discovering Paris months ago, but sat on the information because she was nervous about facing him.  Plus, she had a deadline for the book she was working on, and she couldn’t afford to let anything interfere with that.  Her husband was still out of town, or so she said.  Lyle couldn’t see any traces of him in the living room or the kitchen, the two rooms he actually saw.

“She was tense,” Lyle says, frowning as he sips his coffee.  “She tried to cover it up, but I could tell.  Everything was just a hair off.  You know, laugh a little too loud; gestures a little too broad—that kind of thing.”  I know exactly what he’s saying; it was the same way when we met her in Luna Park.  An actor in a play of her own making—Lyle and I are just bit players on her stage.  The spell she cast over me when we first met has long since dissipated.

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