Friday, May 10, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 156-160 Draft Comparison

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

But he did rub her shoulder consolingly as she worked it out. It was nice.

When she had wound down to red eyes and sniffles, she told him, “You know, they say that cryingsaid, “Crying is the absolute worst thing you can do in a business environment.  That it’sIt’s a sign you’re not professional. And here I’ve done it twice, within front of the CEO for that matter. . I guess that proves I’m not cut out to be a professional.”

Cliff took her chin gently in one hand.  “You’re not professional?  Well, maybeshook his head. “Maybe they wouldn’t think so at Stuffed Shirt Corporation, but. But not here.”

Vickie looked up at him,; she felt her heart was in her eyes.

He went on speaking, his voice matter‑of‑fact. “In my opinion,gave her an understanding smile. “You know what I think? I think a real professional admits their problems and shortcomings, personal and business, and then does the job anyway.  Vickie, I think you’re a person who canYou [M2] do that.”


            “I don’t know.  She rubbed her nose. “I thought you had to be perfect.”


            Cliff smiled slightly.  “It seems “Sure, if you buy into that maybe you’ve bought in to that other style of professional, that professionalism—the uptight, anal‑retentive kind that can’t integrate theirdifferent parts of life.” He watched her closely.

She nodded glumly. She couldn’t integrate working for him, working with him, being friends with him, and definitely not this physical need for him.


            “Vickie, He sighed. “I’m not going to try to talk you into being my lover. That’s not fair to you. But I do want you to understand my feelings on being human and professional. Think about it.”


            Vickie sighed.  This only confirmedVickie wiped her eyes. Being human and professional. He really got it.  She could live with him, both at work and at home.  If only he would care about her.[M3] 


            She wouldShe’d have said something then, embarrassed herself by asking him if he did care even a little, but Cliff released her chin and .

But he went on. “Anyway, I think we’ve done all the damage we can do here. I recommend we shower, get some food and get back to work. I could eat a moose, hooves and all.”


            MaybeThat brought some normalcy back. She decided now was definitely not the time to go into it. feelings. If he was hungry, and she knew from experience, he was not going to be thinking of much else until he was fed.  But she couldn’t resist asking, “Do you really mean that, about being human and professional?”

“There’s a supply closet just outside the stalls. Towels are there, shampoo and extra soap too. Just drop the towel in the hamper when you’re done.” His stomach growled. “Let’s get going.”

“Okay.” She turned from him to head for the women’s locker room. Stopped and asked without turning, [M4] “Did you really mean that, about being human and professional?”

“Hopefully you know by now I mean what I say. C’mon, now, let’s go get shower and something to eat. I’ll even share my dessert.”

“Well, how can I resist such a selfless offer?” She walked as sprightly as she could away from him, into the women’s locker room.

Once she gained the safety of the closed door, she sank back against it, utterly miserable.  ‘Oh, Victoria Lynn, you’ve gone and She’d just [M5] told the best goddamdamn man you’veshe’d ever met you don’tthat she didn’t want to be his loverwhen you know that’sthat was all you wantshe wanted to do.

She heard Cliff banging his locker; odd, she hadn’t heard it when they came down here.  before. She bit her lip and fought back tears again.  ‘He’s different than Cliff wasn’t Ron,. He proved that just now, proved he does care about you.  If you weren’t such a prig you could havecared about her. Sure, maybe he didn’t want to be her one-and-only, but what was wrong with having at least part of him.  Grow up, Vickie.’ ? Carpe diem, as Grandpa used to say.

The thought galvanized her. She pulled herself uprightstraightened and dragged overwent to the small locker.  She began to fantasize about him. What would it be like, being Cliff’s lover? She pulled the shoulder of her leotard off[M6] , imagining that Cliff’shis hands were doing it. She rolled it over her breasts, seeing Cliff’shis eyes riveted to her. Her hands pushed the stretch material over her hips. She bent over, dreaming that she was exposing her most private areas for him.  She heard the bang of a

A door, and the banged[M7] . The sharp hiss of a shower next door.  I’d told her she’d better get a move on, she thought. . Now would not be the time to be late.

Vickie quickly pulled off the rest of her clothes and hurried carefully onacross the ceramic tile, her bare feet making little pungs on the floor in her impatience, and confusion and black sorrow.  ‘Maybe a good hot shower will get me back into it.  Besides, there’s. She’d blown it for today. But there was always tomorrow. , right? Great, just put meher in an antebellum gown on the steps of Tara, I’ll be fine.’  The. She spun the shower dial. Water blasted out cold; she gasped and quickly foundgrabbed the knob to adjust it to less than arctic temperature.

“Gotcha, didn’t it? I forgot to warn you about that. These showers are a bit temperamental.”

Vickie jumped. Cliff’s voice seemed quite near, and Vickie. She scanned the stall. It took a moment to find the section of wall opened, above her, apparently open between the two showers. “Cliff, is that you?”

“You were expecting maybe Wally Cox?  Or Andrew Dice Clay? the Spanish Inquisition?[M8]  No, John just finally got around to calling the plumbers in. That wall was opened for repairs to this cranky plumbing.”

“Are you sure you don’t have a ladder over there? I mean, for the repair work and all?” Vickie stepped under the shower, wet her hair and began to lather shampoo but she still kept, keeping one eye on the hole.

“Scout’s honor, Vickie. But if it’ll help, I’ll be glad to talk to you. Or better yet, sing.”


            “Oh, lawsy“Sweet Simon Cowell, not another bathroom CarusoStar Search.”

Cliff began to warble tentatively. “Mi, mi, mi,mi. . Ah, such good acoustics. I never could see why opera wasn’t performed in the shower instead of a great drafty barn. Okay, now. Vesti, Pagliacci.  Cliff.” He swarmed up to the high note and cracked broadly. “Say, remind me to tell you how tenors really get to the high ones.”

Vickie sighed to herself.  ‘You know, I‘She could even live with his singing.  I must beShe was an incredible dope.  Or he’s an in credible man, a little inner voice reminded. She began to soap her body, trying unsuccessfully to avoid stimulating her over workedoverworked libido.

Cliff began again, this time with something he called Madama Butterfly. He briefly sounded as though he were drowning, then began again.

“What did you ever do with all the money your mom gave you for singing lessons?” Vickie assayed this little dig, hoping he would take it as a sign of her professional resilience (hoping he would still like her[M9] )..

“Ha.” Cliff forced his voice like a rusted locomotive up the mountainside, creaking precariously among the high notes.  “Ouch!”, Vickie said.  A bar of soap had just hit her in the head.

“Ouch!” A bar of soap had just hit her in the head.

“Hey, where’d my soap go?” asked Cliff.

“Here, on my head,” she called back. “I probably have a concussion. What were you doing, anyway?”

“Just putting a little oomph into it. I must have shot it through the gap in the wall. I bet I couldn’t do itthat again in a zillion years,” he said wonderingly.            .”[M10] 

Vickie picked up the soap from the floor. This was his soap. It smelled like him. She closed her eyes and filled her lungs with the scent.

“Hey, Vickie, just toss it back over to me.”

She imagined herself to be the soap, gliding over each wonderful, strong curve of his body, secretly kissing every part of him.

“Okay, Vickie, I promise not to sing any more; just give me back my soap.”

            She tasted the soap, separating the acrid flavors of the soap and scent into components, identifying the small bits of taste that were Cliff.

            . Vickie?”


            VickieShe took a long, ragged breath. It was time to stop playing games. With herself, with Cliff, with any time they might have left together.  The realization made her She took another breath to tell him. Her heart dropdropped dizzyingly into the pit of her stomach. Her throat dried and she could barely speak.  Her knees trembled, but

But she forced herself to say the words. “Why don’t you come and get it?”

There was a stunned silence, then Vickie heard thethe other shower turned off. A faint creak from Cliff’s shower door open. . A few moments of breathless anticipation.

Her door opened. She turned in the shower, one arm crossing her breast to her shoulder, the other holding the soap out, trying not to tremble. The steam boiled across the door and cleared.

Cliff filled the doordoorway, motionless as though carved from rock. The powerful beauty of his naked body struck Vickie physically. Hair was plastered over his brow, making tiny rivulets down his jaw, neck, torso, trickling down his smooth tanned skin.

 [M1]I'll have to check the transition here. On rereading it strikes me as a rehashing of the conflict without adding anything to it.
 [M2]Too many words. See how cluttery all the "I thinks" and "you're a person who" are?
 [M3]Again, the certainty of one-and-only is too soon--and more importantly too pat--for the modern market.
 [M4]This addition is because in the first version of this story, they're working out on day one (there's even less time to get to know each other). When I added the two weeks' working vacation for them to bond, I simply crammed it before this scene without much change. I know better now :) This corrects that transition.
 [M5]Again, the modern form of internal dialogue is third-person close POV or italicized thoughts, not single quote.
 [M6]This and the following was originally Vickie beating up on herself for her very valid concerns. While some real women can carry loads of unnecessary guilt, it makes Vickie less sympathetic to the reader as a heroine and is really not in her character.
 [M7]Good example of the difference cutting the filter word (heard) makes. See how much more immediate the impact is?
 [M8]The very latest in 80s refs :)
 [M10]Trust your reader and your writing. If you've showm what the hero's feeling you don't need to explain it too.
 [M11]Could be sexy but I have a cold while I'm editing this and today its kinda yucky.

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