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Notes from My Writing Journal: The Woman at the Door

I found these pages from my writing journal, a scene from EVERY NOTE PLAYED that never even made it into the first draft. It has its moments, but I see why I didn’t choose to go with it. What do you think?

Chapter 6, baby! What happens next? No idea. I need to loop back with Karina. At some point, we need to visit her history with Richard. I’m not sure if this happens within a chapter or is a chapter of its own. Write it and see, Lisa!

Love that we finally had an ALS clinic day with Richard. I need to send him back there at least one more time in the book to check lung function. This will be the decision point of whether or not to go on a vent—like where Chris Engstrom is right now.

So what happens next? How do we move the story forward—the story is about regret and forgiveness and healing, so I have to get Karina and Richard in the same room again. Maybe Karina returns to Richard’s apartment--the scene of the crime—with a bottle of wine to replace the one she smashed. That really wasn’t her best moment. She hates that they left things on such a horrible note—a song playing with that single note repeating, haunting her ever since. She should make things right between them, but she’s been procrastinating, afraid to return to the lion’s den, afraid of being devoured.

If she has even the slightest trouble finding a parking spot, she’ll view it as a sign and abandon the mission. But she finds a space straight away. No excuses.

She presses the doorbell and waits with the bottle of wine in her right hand, a glass dish of Perogi in her left. A peace offering. Again, she didn’t call. The element of surprise—why the drama? She’s afraid that he’ll reject her, that he wouldn’t pick up the phone if he saw her number.

So here she is again, unannounced. The day is chilly, windy, and she’s shivering on the top step. Finally footsteps. The door opens. A woman. Glasses, pearls, made-up eyes, bare lips, expensive sweater, tall, gorgeous blonde hair. Karina’s blood instantly heats, her heart burning. Of course he’s with a woman. But even after all this time, she’s still not prepared to see it, to see her, and this woman feels like a sucker punch, a slap in the face.

It’s not even about the woman in front of her. She’s every woman, every betrayal, every affair Karina knew about and didn’t. She was stuck at home with a colicky newborn; home with a toddler with an earache; home with a first grader with head lice—while he was at a five star hotel for a week with some groupie. Or he was rehearsing in the room he used to rent at Berkeley School of Music, and he’s “practicing” with a 20-year-old cello student with big tits. She walked in on that one, the image emblazoned in her brain forever. She can’t remember what she had for dinner last Tuesday, but her brain won’t erase the memory of that grotesque sight.

The woman at the door says, “Yes?”

“Um, I’m here to see Richard.”

“Oh, he doesn’t live here anymore.”

OMG. He’s dead. Karina can feel her face go ashen, blood drained, every cell in her body going slack, including the muscles in her hand. The bottle of wine slips through her fingers and shatters on the step at her feet. She looks down. Her cream-colored booties look as if they’re covered in blood. Ruined. And that’s how she feels. Ruined.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry,” she says to the woman in front of her, for vandalizing her front stoop.

The woman had reflexively jumped back to protect herself from the wine and the broken glass and the crazy stranger at her front door. Red dots are splattered across the top of her moccasined feet.

“I’m so sorry,” Karina says again. Sorry to this woman, to Richard. “When did he die?”

“Oh goodness, no. He moved out. He didn’t die. He’s just a few blocks from here, at One Charles.”

“Oh,” says Karina, embarrassed and relieved, which she can barely believe.

After wishing him dead for years, here she is, wine-stained and shivering and embarrassed in front of a complete stranger, relieved that her ex-husband is still alive. Go figure.

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