Authors: Elisa Lorello
Copyright © 2009 by Elisa Lorello
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or distributed in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher.
Sale of this book without a front cover is unauthorized. If this book is coverless, it may have been reported to the publisher as “sold or destroyed” and neither the author nor the publisher may have received payment for it.
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Published in America by Lulu Press, Inc.
Manufactured in the United States of America
I don’t even know where or how to begin to express my gratitude for all the support I’ve received this past year. Without it,
could not have come this far. So many people deserve to be mentioned by name in these acknowledgements, but I only have so much space. I’m going to do the best I can.
First, many thanks to everyone at Lulu for their tech support, customer service, and hospitality at the Raleigh headquarters. Thanks also to everyone at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC for their support of local authors, myself especially.
I am indebted to my “travel guides”: Elisa DiLeo, Tracy Branco Medeiros, and Gavin Hymes. Without them, Andi would have been completely lost.
Aaron Sorkin continues to be a major inspiration and influence on my writing, and his insight and advice this past year have been indispensable, not to mention a thrill. Likewise, the new friends I’ve made on the “Aaron Sorkin and the Facebook Movie” discussion forum have kept me smiling, and I bask in their awesomeness on a regular basis. To Elspeth Antonelli, Heather Grace Stewart, Olivia Morris, Jill Weinberger, and Alexis Kokoros Zahorsky: Thanks for everything! To Larry H. Leitner: Thank you especially for telling me that I “got it”. That meant so much to me. To Danielle: Thanks for taking the time to message me after reading
. To all my other forum friends (and you know who you are): I offer you cake and my gratitude for keeping it fun.
Thank you to my cousin, Ron Mottola, who enthusiastically spread the word about
without a penny of compensation, and those who followed his lead (in alphabetical order): Marc Cerrone, Katherine Hagopian, Kathy Jackson, Ellen McCabe, Vicki Nadal, Barbara Quinby, and Mia VonBeeden. Many of them were also some of the first readers of
, including my dear friend and writing partner in crime, Sarah Girrell Paquette.
Thank you to all who supported me on the blog tour, especially Stacey Cochran and the Raleigh Write2Publish group; Jerry Blitefield, the English Department, and the students at UMass-Dartmouth’s
; and Crystal Medeiros and her family, who gave me a place to stay during my visit to Massachusetts.
To Susan Miller-Cochran, the entire First Year Writing Program faculty, and the English Department at North CarolinaStateUniversity: I am honored to be among such outstanding colleagues and friends on a daily basis. To my students: You probably don’t know how much you teach me. Thank you all. To Tina Shasteen: Thanks to you and your family for your sacrifice and service.
A special thanks to my Facebook friends and Faking It Fans, Twitter followers, Kindle kin, “I’ll Have What She’s Having” blog readers, and every reader who has bought and/or passed on my book to someone else, as well as taken the time to write and post a review or a personal note of appreciation to me—your support means so much to me!
To my parents, Michael and Eda; my siblings: Michael, Bobby, Ritchie, Steve, Mary, and especially Paul, my twin brother, and their spouses/significant others; my grandmother, Mary Mottola; my nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins: I love you dearly. To Kelly Lennon Sutphin, my best friend since birth: I can’t wait for the birthday bash.
Special thanks to all those authors who make me better at what I do (Richard Russo, Jennifer Weiner, David Sedaris, and Nora Ephron, to name a few), and to every independent author who dares to dive in head first—go for it!
Finally, my deepest gratitude to the band Duran Duran, especially its original five members: John Taylor, Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, and Andy Taylor. For the last twenty-six years and counting, Duran Duran’s music has been my primary source of comfort during times of sorrow, joy, and celebration, and companionship for everything in between. Their song “Ordinary World” was the inspiration for this novel, and I don’t know how I would’ve survived the most turbulent times of my life without them. I love them like they were my own brothers.
If I have left any person out of these acknowledgements, please accept my sincere apology and know that your name is etched on my heart.
in loving memory of Lisa and Rahma
“What is happening to me?
Crazy some say.
Where is my friend when I need you most?
But I won’t cry for yesterday.
There’s an ordinary world somehow I have to find.
And as I try to make my way to the ordinary world
I will learn to survive.”
DON’T REMEMBER SLEEPING, MUCH LESS WAKING up.
There I was—eyes open, looking at the pillow beside me, untouched, the absence of warmth so obvious it practically choked me while numbing me to any tactile sensation.
My mother was downstairs, making tea and toast, which she already knew I wouldn’t eat. I did everything in a zombie-like fashion: shower; blow-dry my hair; apply makeup. I was running low on body lotion. Sam usually bought it for me. It’s his favorite. Freesia Breeze.
I stood inside the walk-in closet. My skirts and slacks and jeans and dresses hung opposite Sam’s suits and jeans and button down shirts, all neatly aligned on wooden hangers. I pulled out my black velvet, thrift-store blazer, a pair of dark blue jeans, and tan suede boots. Mom knocked and entered without waiting for an answer or an invitation.
“What on earth are you wearing?” she asked after taking in an eyeful.
“What’s wrong with this? The blazer is black. It’s Sam’s favorite.”
“You can’t wear that, Andi. You simply can’t. You’ve got a closet of more appropriate clothes.”
I had neither the time nor the energy to tell her that I only wear the pantsuits when there’s a function with the university chancellor or when the department is recruiting candidates for hiring, or that Sam thinks I should be walking into court when I’m wearing a pantsuit. I scanned the rack; what else does Sam like? I spied a black cocktail dress and pulled it out, remembering the first time I’d worn it.
“Now that’s a pantsuit,”
“How is that possible?”
“’Cause it makes me pant when you wear it.”
Standing in front of the full length mirror, I stared at my reflection, but didn’t recognize who stared back. Long, bottled auburn hair falling in wide ringlets, its real gray appearing at the roots. Lifeless ashen eyes, once the color of emeralds. Round, faded pink lips. Just standing there, staring at me.
Who the hell are you?
Mom disapproved again.
“Don’t you think that’s a little too dressy?”
“Sam likes it.”
“Andi, I understand—”
“No, you don’t. I’m wearing this.”
She closed her mouth and left the room.
A half hour later at the kitchen table, Mom stirred her coffee while I pushed away the plate of toast.
“Are you sure you’re up for giving the eulogy?” she asked.
“Again with this?”
“I just don’t see how—”
“We’re not discussing this, Mom. I’m doing it.”
I don’t remember how we got to the church or who drove me there; it just sort of magically appeared. I don’t remember walking inside, or seeing anyone in particular. Just a sea of black, like a big tarpaulin spread out over the pews.
, I thought. I don’t remember anything the priest said. I didn’t feel my brother Joey holding my left hand or my brother Tony holding my right. But, at some point, I stood up. Rather, my brothers stood up and pulled me along. One of them escorted me to the lectern. In one hand I clenched a piece of paper folded in quarters, crinkled and damp with perspiration. I looked out at the black tarps on each side of the church.
Oh, I know where we are
, I said to myself.
We got married in this church.
I saw my best friend Maggie on the left, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. Is the left side for friends of the bride or the groom? I always forget.
As I unfolded the paper, it then occurred to me that I was inappropriately dressed. When I looked down at the paper and scanned the words scrawled in my longhand, a more horrid realization came to me: this was crappy writing.
My mouth dry, I licked my lips and tried to clear my throat, but nothing happened. So I opened my mouth and let the sounds come out. I read, and spoke:
“Anyone who knows me knows that my love life was a train wreck from day one. In fact, I don’t think I ever really understood love until I met Sam. We met at a writing conference six years ago in New York. Then we long-distance dated via emails and phone calls. Looking back, I’m glad that’s the way it happened because I’m not sure I would’ve really given him a chance otherwise. I didn’t trust my instincts—hell, when it came to men and love, I didn’t even have instincts. But I fell in love with him over the course of that correspondence and fortunately I was offered a teaching position here so I took it and left New York and the rest is history.”
I looked up from the paper and added, “But you know all of this, don’t you.”
“Sam’s my best friend in the world. I can think of no one else who I’d rather be spending my Saturdays with. No one makes a better pancake. No one imitates Jimmy Stewart as badly as he does, and no one can make me laugh quite the way he does.
“Did,” I corrected.
“His students absolutely loved him. He often had grad students over to the house, and both they and his undergrads would give him collectibles—the study is filled with these bobble-head dolls. But the real reason they love him so much is because he’s real to them. His humanity comes out on every page that he writes with them, that he reads in their own writing, that he shares. And man, his writing was so good. Sometimes I wanted to cover my own with a sheet…
“…like now, for instance.”