A White Crow was the first story in my Read Write Ponder series and I just realized I didn't have an excerpt available for people to read. Well, I do now! Here it is!
Mac shook his hair out and frowned. Drops of water covered the mirror and raced through the fog for the sink. For half a heartbeat, he considered leaving the streaks for Lisa, but he just didn't have time to do battle. But Saturday was coming, and Saturday mornings were made for finding some small way to goad her into an argument. It was the one day of the week they could match wits, and then he could take his time making up with her under the bed covers.
Today, though, he just didn't have time. Once again, he had slept through the alarm. With a swipe of a towel, he cleared the beads of water and fog from the mirror and admired his chest, still muscled a year after his last day of training for college football. He leaned in closer to look at the dark circles that puddled under his bloodshot eyes. Late nights studying at the law library were taking their toll.
The sting of eye drops made Mac hiss. The liquid that didn't make it into his sinuses rolled down his cheeks like tears. He snatched a tube from inside the cabinet, squeezed a dab of gel into his hands, and smoothed back some of the wild, sandy blond strands curling at his temples.
"Late again?" Lisa swatted his bare butt as she walked by the open door on her way to the kitchen for coffee.
"Always," he said. He stuck his head out the door and admired her pajamaed curves. "Would be better if we could drive our car."
Mac had griped about not having a car closer to their apartment from the first day he had moved in with her. Their flat inside the heart of the city had no parking garage of its own and the closest one that wouldn't break their budget was more than two miles away. Everyone had a car in the midwestern town where he grew up. It wasn't the discomfort of waiting at the bus stops in the damp chill of the October air. Shoot, gun season hadn't even started yet. He could sit in a snow-covered tree stand all day dressed in little more than a sweatshirt and his winter camo. No, it was the inconvenience of having to depend on someone else to get him around the city.
Mac squeezed the toothpaste too hard and it fell off his brush into the sink. He growled and scooped it onto his brush. After a few quick brushes and a swipe of the toothbrush across his tongue, he rinsed and dropped the brush with a plink into a jelly glass in the cabinet. A speck of toothpaste mocked him from his stubbled chin. He dashed it away, and then snatched a brush from a drawer to drag through his damp hair. A pink, elastic hair band was wrapped around the handle of the brush like a good omen. He wouldn't need to make a mad dash looking everywhere for one of his own rubber bands. With a quick flick of his wrist, he pulled the pink band around his mass of long curls. Well, not too long. Lisa had said when they first started dating that she wasn't looking for a Fabio, so he kept his hair trimmed to shoulder length.
"Nobody who lives in the city drives their own car to work. Too much traffic to deal with and there's no place to park." Lisa walked in and sat down on the toilet lid with both hands wrapped around her coffee mug. "We'll get a new place once you have your degree. Is that my hair tie?"
"Was on the counter. I gotta run." Mac headed toward the bedroom to get dressed.
"No, you gotta find a different hair tie."
Mac didn't stop. "What? No. I'm late."
Lisa's feet rapped a quick tattoo as she rushed in behind him. She had abandoned her cup in the bathroom and stood with both hands on her hips. "I'm serious."
"What are you talking about?" Mac snatched a shirt over his head and pulled on a pair of pants. The bed squeaked as he sat down on the edge and slipped his feet into a pair of black sneakers. He didn't bother tying them. "Lisa, I'm late."
Lisa pounced on the bed and made a grab for Mac's hair, but he ducked and stood up, then leaned away as she swiped at him again. Her face had turned a mottled red and Mac wondered why she was getting so riled up over some stupid hair tie. Especially, when she knew he needed to get out the door to catch the Madison Ave bus. If he didn't catch that one, he'd be too late, maybe even fired.
She jumped from the bed and grabbed his shirt. "It's mine. It's my lucky hair tie."
"Why are you acting so weird about this?" He brushed past her. "I gotta go."
"No." She stepped between him and the door and put her hand out.
"Really? This is what's important right now? Now? When I'm late?" He pushed by her through the door.
Lisa's elbow thumped against frame. "Ow!"
"Sorry," he mumbled without turning around. "I'll give it back later."
"I just want my hair tie back." Her voice bounced off the walls and followed him down the hallway where he snatched a camouflaged coat from the hook by the entryway. The bathroom door slammed behind him.
Lisa held her breath. She counted to ten, and then opened the door to hover with her ear to the crack. Other than the measured drip of the shower at her back, the apartment was quiet. The hinges pleaded for a drop of oil as she opened the door wider and stuck her head into the hallway. It was empty.
As she walked across the room, she chewed a fingernail. In the last week, all her nails had been whittled down until they bled at the corners, so it was no surprise when she tasted blood. Through the front door, the muffled ding of a bell announced the elevator, and Lisa froze. She waited a heartbeat, then swiftly moved to her coat and reached inside a pocket to extract a pink and white box.
The instructions on the back of the package were incomplete, so she opened the box and dug out the sheet of paper. As she padded back to the bathroom, she tucked the box under her arm and unfolded the page. She read it top to bottom, then flipped it over to read the other side. Her single year of high school Spanish was not going to help her read page two. Lisa pressed the paper flat on the counter and willed her hands to stop trembling. The applicators rattled against the sides of the box as she tipped one into her hand.
"Just pee on the stick." She swallowed hard and stared at the stranger in the mirror. "Go ahead. Have your fortune told."