SAMPLE SUNDAY #1 – ‘Ethan’s Choice: Blank Pages I’

This is an excerpt from a new release I have coming on 10.18.19 – Enjoy!

Pratt Institute
Brooklyn, New York
April 1977

Serena had just finished her tuna fish sandwich and now she wanted something sweet. Like always, her cravings for sweet came immediately after she’d tasted the savory or in this case, salty. Pulling the jar of Mott’s out of her purse, she looked up at the kite flying and other antics on the quad, then let the vibrant colors soak into her eyes and memory for later. Mr. Collins, her life drawing teacher, had said their next project should be something mobile not stationary like a vase or a model practicing how not to breathe. It should be or have life.
She didn’t know if that meant it couldn’t be an inanimate object but she didn’t care. It was sunny for once and the impromptu, inviting, on-campus picnics they’d talked about in the college brochure had been non-existent until today. It had been a hard winter in New York and everyone had cabin fever.
Darn, this jar was impossible. She didn’t think of herself as weak but she wasn’t sure she’d be able to open it. Looking around all she could see was a grassy knoll filled with a lot of people who already knew each other and not one of them looked like her, nor did they seem particularly friendly. Creative and self-involved, but not friendly. What she really needed was a guy with brawny shoulders. Maybe the blonde guy talking to the girls about twenty feet away. He looked like some of the bulky Norwegians guys in her new neighborhood in Red Hook. He also looked like he could take on a jar of applesauce without too much trouble.
It was while judging whether she would travel the distance to embarrass herself for a spoonful or two of applesauce that she heard something that made her heart flutter.
“Jason if students could stand up to a President and make him flinch we sure as hell can help our brothers and sisters at CUNY stand up to a tiny teapot of a mayor.”
“Tiny teapot huh?” Jason chuckled. “You know you tall fuckers are always making fun of the short people. That shit is unjust too you know. And side note brother? I never would have gone to the White House lawn to scream at the President about some shit going on halfway around the world. I was in middle school man. Maybe that would’ve been your silly ass. I always had a job after-school.”
“You’d feel differently if you had lost someone in one of those rice patties or if you had to go over there your damn self.”
“The draft is ended man. That shit is never coming back. No need for you to go pulling out the Arlington card.”
“I’m only saying what you already know. We need to keep fighting for what’s right Jay. The world is going down to hell fast and I’m not about to sit on my ass waiting for it to end up the way I want it to.”
She could hear the conversation so well; Serena didn’t dare turn around. She wanted to though because at least one of the voices resonated so deeply in her head she could feel her ears flex unnaturally as if they could open wider and hear it better. The two men had been tromping around behind her but then they stopped, she gauged about five to ten feet before they got to where she was sitting on her favorite blanket.
Her curiosity burned, lighting its way through Serena’s head. Eyes shifting back and forth, she attempted to think of a casual way she could turn and get a look at the man who spoke with such a seductive baritone.
“Here you go… if you can make it we’re marching at City Hall for our brothers and sisters at CUNY schools. The information is all on the flyer.”
“Hey Ethan, we gotta go man. We don’t have any more time to pass these out now. You know Goslin hates it if anybody is late to his class.”
“Yeah, yeah. Okay.”
They would pass her any second. They would leave and she might not see him again. If she didn’t get a look at his face, she might not even know if she saw him again. Only if she happened to hear him would —
“Excuse me.” Serena didn’t whisper but she spoke to their backs as they walked passed and they hadn’t heard her.
Anxious, she stood up, pulling down the legs of her shorts haphazardly as she did.
“Excuse me?” She said louder.
Both men turned to her. She instantly relaxed because both of them were black. One dark, he had a fledgling beard and wore jeans with a blue button down and a long brown corduroy vest. The other, a medium tan, with high cheekbones, and at least four inches taller than his friend; he was also carrying a lot of papers. Serena took a guess and focused on him.
“May I have one of your flyers please?”
Neither man said a word. They just stared at her. It’s funny what you notice at times of extreme awkwardness. The guy with the flyers, who Serena suspected was also the one with the beautiful, nearly bass voice, was wearing white jeans. That, in and of itself, might not have been so interesting except her shorts were white denim too. It was April. The cherry trees were in bloom. But it sure wasn’t summer yet, and they both looked like they were going to a lawn party on Long Island.
She also noticed his arms in the long-sleeve navy cotton shirt he was wearing. The shirt caressed the cut between the base of his shoulder down through his bicep, which left her wondering restlessly about what other parts of his body might look like under the right fabric.
“And if one of you doesn’t mind,” Serena continued, this time with a smile, that she knew for sure was a winner, “I could really use some help to open this.”
The tall one looked sharply to the jar she was still holding in her hand. His eyes narrowed first then trailed back to hers. He had a fierce countenance like someone who’d been tested all his life and while he might be tired of it he wasn’t backing down for anyone. But then he broke the facade and smiled slightly before he spoke, simultaneously confirming her suspicions about him. It was his voice, and he was fine.
“Applesauce?” Ethan said.

Thanks for reading. Join me in the blog and promotional tour for this book, the first in the Blackbirds Novel Duet coming this October.

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