Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Excerpt: Better Than the Real Thing

Now here's a treat: the great folks at 4-Letter Words not just feature a lot of my books but also just posted a sweet excerpt from my new collection, Better Than the Real Thing.  Check out the story, "A Light Minute" over there ... but in the meantime here's a tease:
How are you today?  was all the message said.  It was their ritual, a tight tradition between them.  Sasha was an night timer, a sunset-to-dawn kind of girl.  Before she crawled into her “warm flannel cave and drew sleep up over her eyes” (she’d written) she always left that message for Alyx to find in her own preferred morning.

Happy, Alyx sent back with a flutter of keystrokes, love you.  Another ritual, much more recent.  Alyx felt it, though, with a tug of hesitation, a grip in her chest of uncertainty.  It might well have been totally true, that Sasha was the love of her life – but they’d never met.

So much was known – despite all that was unknown (the sound of her voice, the way she smiled) – that Alyx was very certain about the feelings she had for the tiny, dark-haired girl with the sweet little bulb of a nose, deeply tanned cheeks and vibrant brown eyes (I’m a Mediterranean princess who likes the night): a color print of her framed neat over her machine’s monitor.  Even without hearing her voice or really seeing her face (beyond the picture she’d transmitted) she knew that Sasha somehow fitted perfectly into her life.  Their conversations, though time-delayed, hummed and clicked with a familiarity that belied their three month relationship.

At first Alyx was hesitant about venturing into the electronic unknown.  The world was still much too loud, hard, and brilliant for her back then to learn the unfathomable language of baud, server, gateway, and the like.  Jo had left her – taken her pictures, blankets, clothes, books, and herself and left Alyx nothing but her little Santa Cruz bungalow.  That, and a series of pains when Alyx did anything – anything at all.  Till, that is, her brother smashed open her front door, emitting a torrent of painful light and crashing street noise and slammed down a small box next to her antique computer.  In a sympathetic whisper that sounded like a torrent of dishware pouring down a tin-shod mountainside, he had said, “If you won’t go out, maybe at least you’ll meet someone else.”

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