Friday, March 8, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 121-125 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

Vickie reached back into the attic of her memory for the year of ballet she took to overcome a young girl’s coltish awkwardness.  ‘I’ll show him what stretching can do, she thought with a trace of malice. She moved quickly through the first series of exercises she learned so long ago and stole a glance at Cliff.

            ‘He’s notWho wasn’t even looking,’ she.
She fumed.  ‘Not that I’m here to impress him.  Certainly not.’  She began the second set of exercises, heel set on the barre. She stretched, feeling tendons pop.

            ‘But you’d think heAnd snuck another look.
Still nothing.
He might at least appreciate the effort.  Phooey. She switched legs, sneaking another peek at Cliff.  ‘IsWas he really that rapt over selecting the weight for the bench press? Or iswas he pretending that he’s nothe wasn’t looking?  A trickle of sweat (I sweat, he perspires. I thought I was a lady.  Phoo!) Phooey!down her spine told her she was warmed up enough to tackle the gym. machines.
Cliff looked up, for all the world as if just noticing her presence. “Ready to go to it?”
“Yup. I’ll hit the stair machine next, then do a short round of weights.”
“That sounds like a good combination,” he said Cliff. . “Mind if I tag along?”
“Not at all, if.” And then the (*imp of her redheaded grandma*) [MH1] made her add “If you think you can stand the pace.”
They mounted the machines and waited for the computers to reset. “I thought you weighed one‑twelve,” Cliff remarked as Vickie entered a one‑one‑six onto the flat keypad of the stair machine.
“Who asked you to peek?” she said with a touch more acid.  “Besides,“It’s the last two days. I’ve been working my tail off for you; who has time to diet with Overseer Cliff around?”
“Have you really been working that tail off?” he said with an air of innocence. Vickie could almost see him mentally putting on a (tarnished) halo.
“Never mind my tail. Let’s get going.” Exasperation mingled with a tingly realization that Cliff had almost certainly been watching her warm‑up.
The stair machines beeped almost simultaneously and they began the treading on the pedals that, quickly becamegaining[MH2]  a steady rhythm. Vickie looked over to Cliff’s read‑out and saw that he had picked the Herculean heavy‑training level routine.  ‘Macho creep,’,” she muttered to herself.  ‘I’ll show this bucket of testosterone how it’s done!’!”  Vickie re‑entered her training routine to match Cliff’s.
“Hey, watch it,”.” Cliff warned. frowned at her readout. “Let’s not overdo this, either. Nobody profits if you get injured.”
“This? This is my normal, take‑it‑easy workout pace,” she replied, curling her lip.

            “Okay, then.  It’s your“Your funeral.” Cliff grunted as he stepped up his pace. Vickie matched him.
She took quick inventory of her body. Knees beginning to complain. Breath becoming shorter. Thighs tightening up. She told her body to relax and buckle in, and summoned all her Irish stubbornness. Her breath began coming harder, gulping oxygen in response to demands made on her legs. Beside her, Cliff was soundingpurring[MH3]  like a Porsche in its element.
“Tired, yet?” panted Cliff.
“Not a…bit of it,” she gasped out.
Cliff’s muscles writhed as he hunched his shoulders like a huge bear. He put his head down between his shoulders and began charging like a linebacker, pushing the stair machine beyond its programming. Vickie put her face up, straining to match and exceed his pace. Her legs felt on fire and her arms felt like lead from gripping the rails.

            Vickie and CliffThey churned out the steps as the minutes ticked away, too intent on their competition to notice the end of the routines nearing.  The room began to fade Vickie’s eyes fogged—and fogthen cleared as thea runner’s high took effect.  Vickie feltfilled her. Her body springsprang to new levels as her second wind came. She noted with dispassion that Cliff was beginning to fade.  ‘Hit the wall, I expect. Only the insistent beeping of the timer penetrated the curtain of sweat as the routine ended.
Cliff stopped, panting hoarsely. The pedals slowly sank to the floor as he tottered to the bench nearby. He sat with his head down, gulping great quantities of air. Vickie stopped, too, riding the pedals down.  Suddenly, she felt very wobbly. , then stepped off—and wobbled. She grabbed the machine’s rail to get her balance, then walked tentatively to the bench and plopped down beside Cliff, mopping at her brow and feebly brushing her hair back out of her face.
“Well, that  was certainly fun,” Cliff said after he could breathe a little more normally.
“Exhilarating. Wouldn’t have missed it for anything,” Vickie replied.
Vickie sat on the bench next to Cliff and couldn’t think of a word to say. It was frustrating, really. One minute she wanted to kiss him and the next she wanted to beatcompete with him. Ron had never affected her this way.
Oh, sure, Ron had been fun, when things were going well.  She hadShe’d enjoyed going to movies with him, and out to bars, and the usual things you did on dates.
But Cliff, well, from the very beginning Cliff was different. Vickie smiled to her self. herself. Yes, Cliff was very different. She enjoyed just being with Cliff, whether they were talking shop, or competing, or…other things.
Vickie sighed. If only she could be the model corporate lover. If only she didn’t really care.

            Now“Well.” Cliff stood, stretching.  and stretched. Muscles sprang into relief, hard against the damp singlet. Vickie held her breath. He was gorgeous[MH4] . She felt cheated, being so close to him and yet not being able to touch him. Touch his body or touch the real man, the real Cliff.

            “Well.  I’m tired enough to sleep now. You?”
She smiled and nodded.
How about I drive you home?”

            Vickie spoke without thinking.  “I have my car here.”
“Oh. Sure. Right, I don’t know what I was thinking. Well, let’s get out of here.”  Didgoing.”
Vickie watched him go over and pick up his workout bag, Had she imagineimagined the disappointment in his voice?
He walked her all the way out to her car.  He hadn’tHe’d never done thisit before, and Vickie eyed atgave him strangely. questioning look. He caught the glance. grimaced. “I just want to make sure you get off okay.”
“I’ll be fine, Cliff.”
“I know.” He paused. “Do you want me to follow you home?”
She looked at him carefully.  The frowned. Was he suggesting…? But his head was angled such that the parking lot lights flooded the area, castingcast a shadow over his face. She couldn’t be certain. Professional was the best bet. “No thanks,. I’m sure I’ll be okay. See you tomorrow.”
“Right.  See you tomorrowTomorrow, then.” He was still standing there when she pulled out onto the street.


            * * * * *
The two men sat companionably in the restaurant’s private room. One grinned at the other and asked, “Have you told her yet?”
The other scowled. “No.”
Apparently that was all he wanted to say, but the first one knew how to pry. “Well, I can see why. She scares the crap out of me, too.”
The other man shook his head. “I’m just not sure how she’ll take it.”
The first man was suddenly sober.  “Why is“Is it so important?”

            “Why?” “Important? I don’t know.” The other man was studying his hands,  clasped loosely in his lap. Then he looked up, his eyes intense.  “I don’t know.  But it’s very“Yes, I do. It’s important. No, it’s vital.”
Then he sagged. “But I don’t know why.”
The first man sat back in his chair, smiling and nodding mentally. . He knew why.


 [MH1]This popped into my head as I was editing. But it's a good idea! Vickie has a redhead's temper, which is a bit of a stereotype. If you can make any important aspect of a character more concrete, it's good. Giving Vickie a grandma or aunt who is/was a redhead and whom Vickie admired, would go a long way to make Vickie's own temperment clearer. I need to think about this more but I may go back and weave that element in.
 [MH2]Again, stronger verb gives clearer picture.
 [MH3]Sounded, looked, felt--all these are OPPORTUNITIES to come up with a better, more descriptive word. Purring is a bit overdone but I think in this case it's better than sounding.
 [MH4]One of the things I had to work hard on especially at the start was skipping steps. Cliff stood. Vickie gasped. In my head, the reason she's gasping is because he's flexing muscles like crazy and his lips are kissable get the picture. But in the original--he stood, she gasped--the reader really didn't get the picture.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes steps can be skipped, and are actually even more exiting when left to the reader's imagination. There's a zing when I read and my brain synapses leap the gap. But here isn't one of them.

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