PARALLAX.

by s.m.

I just spent the month of November (National Novel-Writing Month) working on the third and final book in the Francesca Trilogy, Parallax.

Fifty thousand words later, here’s a taste of what’s to come…

“So we’re both artists, then.”  He had finished his drink, and signalled to the bartender for another.  “Will you have one?”

“What is it?”

“Pastis.”

“Please,” she replied.  “And thank you.”  She touched his arm, lingering.  It was a tricky balance, this: she didn’t want too much conversation, she didn’t want to know his life story or his favorite television show or what he eats for breakfast.  She wanted to go to his hotel room, fuck for a few hours, and go home.  But getting from here to there took finesse.

She’d always liked pastis, its bewildering transition from clear to milky as she stirred in one, then two ice cubes, its heady licorice flavor tasting like disobedience and danger.  The first sip was arresting, she almost coughed, but the next went down smoothly.

“Where are you staying?”  She leaned in and whispered into his ear, her green fairy breath sweet and delirious.

“Finish your drink and I’ll show you.”

That was the thing about the French, she thought.  They knew how to play.  She felt the pastis numbing her tongue, the back of her throat.  She gave him half a smile.

She swirled the ice cubes in her glass, listening to the pretty sound they made.

“What note is that?” she asked.

“What?”

“The sound of the ice against the glass.  What’s the note?  That’s your thing, isn’t it?”

“Do it again.”

She rattled her ice again.

“Now drink some of it,” he directed.  She complied.

“Does that change the tone?” she asked.

“No.  But it gets you closer to finishing.”  He had his hand on her knee, teasing under the hem of her skirt.

“Guillaume,” she said.

“Quoi?”

“Rien.  I just like the way it feels on my tongue.  Guillaume.”