Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lucy Is a Wreck

Part of the fun of having two protagonists in a piece of comedy is that we get to see things falling into place. Either or, since we already knew what was going to happen to Lucy, we were freed up to spend some more time in her head than watching the scene unfold. Which is good, because I feel like too much of her early chapters focus on building up to the present. Not only that, since things just happen to her, we don't get to spend enough time just listening to her, like we do with Sam. Not only that, but Lucy is really finding her voice as a character better and better, I think. She feels kind of generic in the first section, but now I've got a good feel for the level of snark she keeps in her internal monologue. We also get a feel that she's better at reading people than Sam, but that she's also a bit more self-centered than he is. She's not selfish; she just is Lucy-centric in her thinking until she can shake herself out of it.

Also, she's a liar, but a liar of convenience. Not calling the insurance people? Sure, sure. That's fine. Telling everyone she has a boyfriend to avoid uncomfortable flirting? That's fine. The threshold for what Lucy is willing to lie about is a lot lower than she thinks, which makes her a fun character to write. As always, fiction below the fold; click the links to follow along.

1. Start of Lucy's first chapter
2. Conclusion of the first Lucy chapter
3. Start of Sam's chapter
4. Sam's story continues with an unfortunate evening
5. Our two main characters interact as Sam gets shot down.
6. We're back with Lucy as she reflects on her new boyfriend
7. Lucy has a little crush; isn't it adorable?
8. Lucy never gets any peace.
9. Sam gets a phone call.
10. Sam meets "Rusty."
11. Sam ponders important questions.

* * *

In my life, I’ve had nearly a dozen accidents. Nearly every time it has been categorically, entirely and completely my fault. Do you know how that looks on my insurance? Deer, traffic cones, parked SUVs: All of these mere victims of my automobile-driven wrath. I was still sitting at the stop light, bundled up in my warm red jacket, desperately hoping the heat could kick in and warm my legs. I had decided that assistants run errands, they don’t climb ladders and scrub floors. Maids and personal assistants are radically different things, and so a professional skirt was an acceptable choice of clothing.

Except that California decided it hated me. It decided “You know what, Lucy? The one day you’re wearing a skirt, we’ll have a cold day. Maybe even some rain.” California, like Christine, could bite me. Either way, as I was shivering in my little car I felt the smash. My shrill scream was cut short by an air bag to the face. Which ruined my make-up. What is the point of not sleeping to do your make-up perfectly if some air bag is going to mess it all up?

My poor little car half spun forward; I pulled free from the air bag and screamed again when I saw it was smeared with red, before I realized that it was just my lip stick. Maybe I had gone a bit heavy on it; well, that problem had been fixed, thank you very much.

Now, if you had been watching from the side, you might have thought I was asleep at the wheel. You would be wrong. I couldn’t have been sleeping. I was too cold. I sleep under layers and layers of blankets. Even slightly breaking the hermetic seal of the warm cocoon that surrounds me ruins my night’s sleep. If I ever get married, my husband will have to sleep in a different bed, be made of magma or never move in his sleep.

Or I could get a sleeping bag. But it really seems silly to inconvenience me when he’s the one flopping around. My dream husband is an inconsiderate sleeper.

Anyway, the point is, the reason I was dazed and confused when the man — a pony-tailed, overall wearing slack jaw — came up to my car was because I had been hit. In the face. With an airbag. Not because I was napping.

“Are you alright?”

“Do I look alright?”

“No,” He said. “I mean, yes? Did you hit your head?”

“No? I don’t look alright?” I panicked, I’ll admit. I had to be at my new job soon, and I was apparently a wreck. Because I had a wreck. It was understandable, but I couldn’t afford to look like a spaz on day one. So, I pulled out my pocket mirror from my purse.

“Maybe we should get your car off the road,” He said.

“Oh, yeah. Let me just get out and push it in my heels while I’m looking like a total mess.”

“Look, I know this is going to sound weird —”

“I have to be somewhere! I’m going to be late.”

“But I can fix up your car; I work at the garage a few blocks from here,” He said. “You’re in luck, because I was in my tow truck.”

“Oh, it is my lucky day. Instead of being smashed by a tiny foreign car made of Teflon, I got rear-ended by a monster truck.”

“I left the monster truck at home.”

“Look, I’m sorry if I’m being snappy,” I said. “Can you fix my poor car?”

“I wouldn’t say you’re being snappy,” He said. I knew what he would say, but I bit my tongue. He’d be right to say that, but it would still hurt my feelings. “I can; I’ll even pay for your cab fare wherever you’re going and when you pick up the car. If I get it fixed up before you need it again tonight, let’s not involve insurance?”

“That’s a deal,” I said. “Here’s my number to call me if anything goes wrong.”

He smirked as he opened the door and helped me out of the car. “This is the farthest I’ve gone to get a girl’s phone number.”

I wrinkled my nose at him instinctively. “I have a boyfriend.”

Hey, it worked last time.

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