Monday, June 3, 2013

An Enigma Project

In the last couple of weeks, I've been fielding a lot questions about my current work in progress- An Enigma Project. It's so hard to put into words! I'm really bad with saying too much and giving something away. So, instead of stumbling over a lousy description, I'm posting a teaser here. Without further adieu, here is a scene from An Enigma Project early 2014 through Amazon Publishing.


An Enigma Project Teaser

The cafeteria is relatively quiet this afternoon and I’m grateful to find my favorite booth vacant. It’s in the corner, sheltered from the fluorescent glare of the lights above. I shift across the seat and place my back against the wall. I pull my knees to my chest and rest my cheek against my knee. Just a few minutes of peace, that’s all I want. My mind won’t allow for it, even in the silence, it churns and spits mercilessly.
“Ma’am?” I jump, startled by the man standing at the end of my table. I must look as strung out as I feel, because his face reflects pity.
Screw your pity, buddy.
“You left your coffee,” he raises the latt√© I just paid for and left at the counter.
“Is it okay if I sit?” he asks, but he’s already moving to sit across from me. He folds his tall, lanky frame into the booth, with care not to bang his knees under the table.
“Thanks,” I mutter.
“I won’t ask you if you’re okay,” he chuckles nervously. When he sees that I’m not sharing his humor, he clears his throat, “sorry, I just...I don’t know. Can I just sit here and not talk to you for a minute?”
I take in this strange man warily. His hair is dark brown with a slight curl to it, it’s cropped close to his head, but not short enough to hide the gentle bend of the strands. He runs his hand through it and exhales heavily. I reach for my latt√© and curse under my breath at my shaking hand. I rest it against

the table and reach with my steady hand. The stranger pretends like he doesn’t notice; at least I don’t have to suffer more of his pity.
“Why?” I don’t know why I care, or why I’m even bothering to engage this man. I should get up and make my way back to MRI clinic. His inquisitive brown eyes lock with mine. Something in way he stares, unapologetically assessing me, reminds me of Matt. Pain blooms anew.
“I don’t know,” he shrugs, “does it matter?”
“No,” I sigh. “I guess not. I’m just not accustomed to chatting up strange men in the hospital cafeteria.”
“Is there someplace else you’re more comfortable chatting up strange men?” He laughs, and despite myself, I laugh too.
“Are you here a lot?” he asks cautiously.
“More than I want to be,” I offer. “My daughter is a patient right now.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispers and I cringe at the tears welling behind my eyelids.
“Don’t be.” I shrug and look into my coffee.
“Can’t help it,” he throws back. “Can ask what’s wrong with her?”
“You can ask, but I don’t really have an answer.” I look up from my coffee and find him watching me intently, waiting for me to explain.
“She, my daughter, has a developmental disability and a seizure disorder. Neither of which are specified, so we are here for tests. More tests. Endless tests...” I murmur.
“They don’t know what’s wrong?” he asks, sounding surprised.
“Nobody knows, she was born healthy but started to miss a few milestones in her first year. By her second birthday, she was at the developmental level of an nine month old and started to having seizures. After the seizures started, she started to regress. She’s five now. Developmentally she’s a toddler. She doesn’t fit into any one diagnosis. She’s all over the place and no one knows how to help her.” I stammer over the last few words, embarrassed by my candor. He shakes his head, sinking me further into my unease.
“That must be incredibly hard.” He dips his pinky finger in his coffee, swirling it while he speaks.
“It is what it is,” I shrug. I watch him curiously as he lifts his finger to lick the froth from his finger tip.
Odd.
As if he can hear my thought, he glances up. Blotches of color stain his cheeks and I snicker at his obvious discomfort.
“Sorry, I’m really not a Neanderthal,” he chuckles. “I nearly burned every taste bud off my tongue, earlier. Just testing the temperature. You know.” He stutterers; I bite my top lip to keep from smiling.
“So you’re willing to burn your finger and not your tongue? What did your finger do to you?” I giggle, catching myself by surprise. The cadence of my laughter is almost as unfamiliar as the man sitting across from me. He smiles, transforming his face. Already a handsome stranger, his smile is irresistible. I smile in return.
“I don’t have to taste anything with this,” he waves his pinky at me.
“I guess not,” I clear my throat and sip my own cup. A wave of
self consciousness grips me as silence stretches between us. “What’s your daughter’s name?” he asks.
“Lily,” I whisper. The sadness I’d forgotten for just a moment, cloaks me in darkness once again.
“Lily is a beautiful name,” he offers. The brown of his eyes, reflects the warmth in his tone. Matt has warm, kind eyes, too. That didn’t save me from anything.
“I should really get back to her. She’ll be awake soon,” I blurt out as I scoot out of the booth.
“It was nice talking to you, Lily’s mom.” He offers his hand and I shake it without meeting his eyes. I don’t think I can look at them again without allowing nostalgia to pull me down further. I notice he doesn’t ask for my name. I don’t ask for his either. Besides I’m used to being “Lily’s Mom.” I haven’t been “Caroline” in more years than I can count.


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