Free Short Story: “If It’s An If”

This story originally appeared in Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2, published in March 2012 by Wicked East Press. Let me know what you think! -Stefanie

If It’s An If

“What if I can’t give you a baby?”

His hand stilled on the taut skin of her belly. “Of course you will, my love. Don’t trouble yourself about it.” It resumed its lazy path around her navel, seeking lower.

She pushed it away and pulled the blanket up.

“And if I can’t? What then? Did you know Sylvia down the street is expecting her third? Her third, John. She’s younger than me, too, by a year.”

She felt his chest rise against her cheek as he inhaled deeply, then lower again as he sighed. He said nothing.

“I worry sometimes, is all.”

He leaned his head against the top of hers. “Hmm? About what?”

“Oh, about any number of things. That we’ll never fall pregnant. Or that we will, but I’ll be too old by then and it’ll have something wrong with it. Even more, I worry…” She looked down at her fingers twisting the hem of the coverlet. She whispered, “I worry that you’ll leave me.”

He kissed the crown of her head. “Darling, don’t think of it. You know the doctor says worry won’t help. Remember?”

She nodded. “I just want to make you happy.”

“When it happens, you’ll make me the happiest man alive.”

“When, when, when. You never say ‘if’. What if it’s an if?”

“Well.” He thought for a moment. “If it’s an if, we’ll just take Sylvia’s.”

She was sure she’d misheard. She turned her face up to meet his. He returned her gaze with a placid one of his own.

“Take…?”

“Oh, yes. There’s still a few months left before she brings home the new baby. We’ll keep trying for our own in the meantime.”

Her brow furrowed. Surely he didn’t mean it. Couldn’t possibly.

“Listen, we’ll only do it if we haven’t managed on our own by then.”

She began to feel dizzy.

“We’ll use the spare key. It’s under the rock by their door; I’ve seen Henry use it once or twice. He’s gone all day, and she always putters around in the garden while the kids nap. So: she’ll go out the back door, and we’ll come in the front. Simple.”

His face had relaxed into the same wistful expression it wore when he talked about the lottery. But now there was a certain sharpness in his eyes that made her breath catch.

“We’ll take him — I so hope it’s a boy, don’t you? — and drive up to the lake house for a while. There shouldn’t be many people around this time of year. We’ll have to find someplace new to live, after, of course. And we’ll need new names. Mine will be…Richard, I think. You can pick his.” He sighed again, contentedly this time. “A whole new life. We’ll be so happy, the three of us.”

He reached over and snapped off the light.

“Now get some rest, dear. Good night.”

This Week in Sniderville: 11

This week:

Spring finally arrived! This is the sunset at 7:53 PM last Sunday. Almost eight, and still light out!
sniderwritersunsetAhh, gorgeous. I love this time of year.

My trial order of buttons came in! They look so good!
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I went for all-you-can-eat sushi today with my coworkers. SO! MUCH! FOOD! I tried salmon roe and tempura bananas and fried pudding. Yup, that’s a thing. And it’s delicious!

Apparently I like to use exclamation points! when I am excited! Somebody stop me!

I watched a ton of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The man was a genius. (!)

Also, as someone whose house is ruled by cats, I couldn’t help but share this:

How was your week?

This Week in Sniderville: 10

This week:

I bought a new purse: black faux-leather with giant fuck-off studs covering the bottom. If I ever swing it old-lady-style at a would-be mugger, there’s gonna be some damage. This pleases me.

I realized that few things make me as irrationally enraged as door-to-door salesmen who try to trick me into opening my door with a “shave and a haircut” knock. Same guy three days in a row. ONCE WHILE I WAS NAPPING. I was the cartoon bull with steam coming out of my nostrils. No one, and I mean no one, messes with my naps. It gets ugly.

I picked up a five-year journal at Chapters, because I realized there are so many firsts in my writing career that I want to record. Like my first 5-star review! I have so many plans for my career, and I think it will be neat to compare what’s happening this year to what happens the next, and the next…

I made SniderWriter buttons:
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Click here if you want one.

Pretty chill, quietly satisfying.

How was your week?

Movie Trailer: “The Purge”

We saw this advertised when we went to Evil Dead, and it looks incredible. When’s the last time you heard of a movie with a completely original plot? I can’t wait til May 31st! (Maybe we’ll see it for our anniversary. That would be weird, wouldn’t it.)

Damn You, Netflix.

I haven’t really watched tv in years.

Not in a snobby, pretentious, too-good-for-such-frivolity kind of way, where you tell everyone ever that you don’t watch it in order to sound more interesting and clever. More in the sense that DayJob, which is also sometimes AfternoonJob and even NightJob, hampers any sort of consistent schedule. I’m simply not always home at the same time, so I don’t catch shows with any kind of regularity.

And yes, I know about PVR. And I’m too cheap to buy one.

So, enter Netflix. I’ve wanted it forever, since it neatly solves this little dilemma. We finally cracked about a month ago and set it up.

Oh sweet merciful crap. All those box sets I wanted? Right there. Cheesy, campy horror movies at my beck and call? Ditto. I don’t waste time cursing terrible buffers or trying desperately to stream a show from a website with cramped bandwidth. I press play and it’s there.

Terrible for productivity.

The thing with working on an art career is that you have to cram as much work in as you can, around the confines of day jobs and family and scant nutritional intake. You need to wake up early, or stay up late, chasing your Muses down and pinning them until they squeak out ideas. You need to love your desk, since you’ll be there for hours. That’s the idea, anyway.

But now that my desk is in our living room, the siren song of the bigscreen is almost too much to bear. I have all the Charmed you could ever watch, it says. Come watch Pumpkinhead for the hundredth time. Then the couch gets in on the act, reminding me that I have a wonderfully comfortable pillow and blanket awaiting me, and maybe I could just relax for half an hour.

Which becomes an hour.

Which becomes two.

Lame as it is, it looks like I need to start scheduling blocks of tv watching for myself. Scheduling time and sticking to it. I’m not getting anywhere being tethered to this remote.

But the couch really is comfy. And they have the whole series of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

I think I’m in trouble here.

This Week in Sniderville: 9

I’m not a virgin anymore!

Last night I went to a special screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show, hosted by…PATRICIA QUINN! It was part of Shock Stock, an annual local horror convention.

I bought my tickets online, thinking how AMAZING it would be to watch RHPS with Magenta herself, and brought a friend along for the midnight screening. What they didn’t tell me on the website was that not only was Magenta there, but so was a live shadow cast! I got rained on, I got rice in my hair, and I fulfilled my decade-long dream of seeing Rocky live! My face hurt all night from smiling so hard.

Patricia was lovely during the Q&A, genuinely funny and sweet. When someone in the audience asked for advice for aspiring actors, Ms Quinn looked her dead in the eye and said “Don’t dream it, be it.” I may have teared up a bit.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, and I didn’t get to keep my ticket stub. But today, when I attended the convention proper, I got something so much better:

pquinn

I’ve never had a fangirl moment like that before. She spoke to me! She knows my name! I managed to carry on an actual conversation, instead of squeaking unintelligibly like I worried I would. I carried the picture into the crowd like it was made of fine gold, because to me it might as well be.

I’ll show off the other stuff I scored at Shock Stock when the light is better. But I couldn’t wait to share this one with you.

How was your week?

How to Confuse a Bank Teller

It’s fun! It’s easy! Let’s play!

1. Pick a bank with branches in your city. Open an account in your native currency. Let’s say, oh, Canadian funds.

2. Write. Sell writing.

3. Receive payments by cheque, in foreign currencies and from foreign lands.
3b. Bonus points if they’re also written in a foreign language.

4. Take said cheques to your bank.

5. Stand in line behind a man who coincidentally has the same uncommon type of account as you do. Wait while he asks the teller to perform an intricate and complicated dance routine of withdrawals and deposits all to that one rare account. Pray quietly that the voice box of the customer complaining loudly at the next wicket will magically snap in two, rendering her silent and the bank much more peaceful. Wait until the teller manning your line’s wicket is thoroughly flustered and unable to concentrate.

6. This is the step that makes it or breaks it, folks! Hand the teller your bank card. Hand the teller your cheques (in Euros! With commas instead of decimals! Ho-ho, what fun!). Ask politely to deposit these cheques into this account.

7. Watch her struggle with the currency conversion. Agree that no, the comma is not our country’s common delineating punctuation w/r/t which is the dollar and which is the cent. Yes, how very strange indeed.

8. The game is almost complete, wait for it…

9. Sign the deposit slip, noting nothing amiss, since no one in their right mind memorizes their account numbers and since deposit slips show only amount deposited and not total balance, and…

10. You did it! You won! Through no doing of your own, and after having signed your acknowledgement of the deposit of said funds into said account, watch in delight as the teller realizes she SOMEHOW PUT YOUR CHEQUES INTO THAT LAST CUSTOMER’S ACCOUNT! Whoo! Exhilarating!

You’ve won! You’ve confused the teller! You have to share the points with the other customers since, let’s be honest, the game would have been lost without them, but between the three of you you played a good game out there. Keep your chin up, kid, it’ll only take another ten minutes to straighten out. And sure, you’ll lose another smidgen of your somewhat depleted trust in the banking system, but hey! Everything’s fun if you play the game right.

This Week in Sniderville: 8

I came here to update about what I did this week, then realized: I didn’t do anything.

I mean, I went to DayJob, I came home drained from DayJob, I camped out on the couch in front of Netflix and I just sat, like a zombie, and not a cool gore-covered-horror-zombie, but a half-asleep vegetative zombie in coffee-stained corporate clothes.

It’s times like this that I remember: this is not who I was cut out to be. I’m not the corporate type — I don’t find fulfillment under fluorescent lights. I don’t find joy in obtuse lingo, or pleasure in progress reports. I’m not big on meetings or memos on company letterhead.

I don’t want the carrot.

I’m not unique: I’m sure most of us probably don’t really dig working for The Man. I’m not trying to paint myself as special. I just find it frustrating, to be so completely in love with writing, and then for something that I… don’t love (is that PC enough?) to use up so much of my energy. It’s exactly like that Onion article: the thing I want to do most in life is being hindered by the thing I like doing least.

I have a plan in place for working at home, as a full-time writer. It’s something that could happen in the next few years. I just have to push through this slump, to not let office politics wear me out before I can make the rest of my life happen.

I wish I had something more interesting or lighthearted to write about this week, instead of a whiny tantrum. But honestly? Sniderville posts are for recapping the week, and this week was pretty much a write-off.

Sorry, dudes.

Here’s to a better week, next week.