A look at the opening of The House that Cain Built, available in an anthology by the New Town Writers.
The House That Cain Built
by Lore Lippincott
Since her childhood years in the greenish haze of Ireland, Flair McLaglen had penned stories to relieve an inner conflict. The trick had been taught to young Flair by her grandmother. Though she'd forgotten whether Nanna's eyes were blue like the sky or blue like the sea, Flair remembered fat pencils against paper scraps, notebooks full of silly stories and mad characters. Years removed from idyllic days, and Irish haze replaced with American fog, the 1960s lost to the 1980s, Flair still relieved an inner conflict through stories.
In college, she'd finished a whole novel that had achieved acclaim. In her head remained a contradictory argument: "Write a sequel! No, don't write a sequel!" and "One book was good enough for Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. Why not for you?" She had a crowded box of ideas, however, that would not be silenced. The more her personal frustrations deepened, stronger now and more realistic than a child's perspective of prosaic betrayals, the longer she sat before the vintage typewriter at nights. The more Josie gave her tea and fed her small, cold meals on a tray. The more Flair ripped out sheet after sheet, crumpled them, threw them into the fireplace.
Another ignominious ball of gibberish landed among soot and flames. A cool night in late September had warranted a fire. Rain dripped sonorously, unhurriedly, from leaves and whispered through gutters of that house paid for by hard work, by a novel without a sequel and a character Flair couldn't erase from her brain.
Flair huffed and slumped. Her office was a drey of sorts set upon the floor, between sofa and coffee table, partly in her real world but mostly in another. Josie looped behind her: the sofa springs rustled with the shift of weight. Warm hands nestled upon Flair's shoulders, left to massage away tension there.
"If Agent Bernadine calls," Josie kept a lace of acrimony in her voice strictly applied to Flair's literary business pro, "I'll say that you've gone out. I usually say you've gone out and it won't be a big deal to do it again."
A gurgle of dread escaped from the back of Flair's throat. Josie closed the noisy maw. The playfulness sent them into erratic laughter, hair-pulling, accidental caresses of forbidden zones. Flair pushed Josie, breaking their tender wrestling match.
"I'll always be out when Bernadine calls," said Flair, feeling hopeless against the onslaught of commercial success. She was a speech therapist, a linguist, a part-time philologist—she wrote only to trample into submission those sensations her mind was consciously too weak to handle. The writing had stopped when she ran into Josie, literally, on the college campus three years before. They'd studied and lived together. Their friendship roamed into the boundaries of psychic phenomenon. It forced them to talk about the relevance, power and likelihood of soul mates. For two years their peace was inexplicable. Every happiness obeyed them.
Then there came upon their paradisal scene a shadow: irregular, problematic, male-shaped. Its name was Josh. He wanted Josie. She became tinted by his penumbra. She wore a ring from him on an important finger and her rosiness darkened.
Josie's eyes danced. Their pixie-green hue and iridescent risibility contained the depth of her unusual love for Flair. She swung their united hands between them. "Josh will be here later. He wants to take me to dinner at that new restaurant close to where he works. Maybe if I explain—"
In an instant, Flair was riled and away. "Oh, no, I won't have your pity wrecking my nice quite Friday evening at home! Thanks," she threw another paper on the fire, "but I'll stay right here. You go and have fun with Josh."
At the sound of his approaching car, the linguist, like a frightened hare, turned and ran upstairs. From a window, Flair watched him stride the sidewalk's length. What did he want with Josie? Flair sunk back to her bed, heart in a vice at the voices downstairs, and imagined a more romantic tableau there than those she'd painted in her head for three years—that Josie had helped hew.
Continued in the book....Purchase anthology at Lulu.com
(Supports the good works of the New Town Writers)