April 12, 2012

New Thing Premiere

 

ONE

When my soon-to-be-ex husband told me he was leaving me for someone he met at a conference, who knew the difference between a main frame and a motherboard, I was halfway through chapter six of the fourth volume of The Epic of Flowerhair.  Flowerhair was up against a wall in the Temple of Grifola and she was not having a good time.  Those walking fungi can get really worked up when you’re trying to steal one of their goddess’ relics.  Flowerhair hadn’t wanted to take the job, but she needed to eat, and the wizard who hired her had offered a really good price for one miserable little relic.  She hoped she’d picked up the right thing:  it looked a lot like a mummified thumb.  Ugh.  Can’t fungi just grow another one, whatever it was? Flowerhair said to herself as she chopped off another fungal limb with her enchanted sword.  The problem with Doomblade was that it didn’t like belonging to her;  the only reason it did belong to her was because of some complicated curse business to do with an evil magician and the sword’s original owner, who had, of course, been a mighty-thewed (male) warrior type with more honor than sense.  So far today Doomblade seemed to be in a good mood.  Maybe it liked the odds:  Bad.  Fungi don’t much mind having bits lopped off.  They just reorganise.  If they killed her, Doomblade might go to some noble champion worthy of it. 

            I knew about needing to eat.  Some years the only reason I did (keep eating I mean) is because I was married to Gelasio.   Although Flowerhair was selling pretty well.  Which was a good thing and, if Gelasio was cutting me loose, about to be a crucial thing.  The bad thing was that volume four was due the end of the month and that was 60,000 words away.  I wouldn’t get paid till I handed it in and my editor liked it.  Sometimes it took a while for my editor to decide she liked something.  While I suffered the agonies of the damned, in case she didn’t.  The agonies of the damned were about to increase in severity without a spousal bank balance as safety net and solace.  While I was married to Gelasio, I drank a lot of comforting champagne during the months I was waiting to hear back from my editor.  I was pretty sure I’d lost my taste for Thunderbird.

            I let Flowerhair wonder if (supposing she got out of this, which according to my contract she had to) she could take some of the lopped-off bits away with her and eat them.  Were attack fungi sentient?  Did it count as some kind of creepy philosophic cannibalism if they were?  I carefully hit ‘save’ and looked at Gelasio.  He was standing in the doorway of my office and looking apologetic.  He was still cute, after more than seventeen years of marriage:  curly black hair and that golden Greek skin, even when he never got outdoors in daylight.  He was the kind of computer nerd who never got outdoors in daylight.  He even went to the gym at about 3 a.m., just in case some sunlight might make it through the gym’s smoked glass during the day.  I wondered what the new girlfriend looked like.  Gelasio was also the kind of computer nerd who earned enough money to buy a penthouse in Manhattan.  I would miss the view from my office.  I would miss the champagne.  But I would miss eating even more. 

            His timing was poor, but that wasn’t entirely his fault.  I didn’t get outdoors in daylight much either because I was always missing some deadline or other.  And I hadn’t told him I had 60,000 words to write by the end of the month.  I didn’t tell him because I didn’t like rubbing it in that I worked as hard as he did for about one-seventy-two-millionth of the money.

            I never did meet the girlfriend, although I found out she was another extremely well paid computer nerd.  This almost upset me more than that Gelasio was leaving me:  it was clearly not fair that two people in the same household were being paid enough to buy Rockefeller Center.  Each.  I wanted the wealth spread around a little more.  I wanted an advance on my next book of more than $2.57.  I wanted a royalty check for more than $1.82. 

             I wanted to keep eating. 

 * * *

Editor’s note:  There will be a What? You’re doing what? semi-explanatory blog (probably) tomorrow.  But I didn’t want to spoil the fun (all right, my fun), by telling you in advance.

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