Seven Ways To Jane - Contemporary Fiction
Was everything a lie? All these other Jane Waldens, what the hell was that for? To teach me a lesson? Great. Got it Fate, thanks. But, did you have to take everything? I mean, what has it been, ten days on the road? Less than that? I hold this stupid book in my hand, this awesome, stunning beautiful book while I wait for my ridiculously delayed flight at La Guardia.
Okay, Fate – I'm over the cliff, my rope is frayed and I'm spent, and I'm sobbing, and I'm slipping. I have to know. Show me the connections. What was the actual link in the chain that started this?
Wait… oh yeah, it was that night. That night, and the liquor ice cream.
(Fate here - note to Jane: It started exactly eleven days ago…)
“Fired. Sacked. Picture of Todd stuffed into a file box, shown the door. Shit.” spewed Jane Walden, pacing her tiny apartment floor.
Christian pushed the glasses up his nose. “Calm down. That's why I brought the Snobar ice cream and bottle of Fireball. Okay, so the lousy PR internship didn't work out. Time to finally write a book. It's your oldest dream.”
“Just write a book, he says, my one true friend. Wait…” Jane paced some more. “You said there is also booze in the ice cream?”
Christian nodded with a wry smile.
“Genius move, Snobar people.” Jane reverted to her tirade. “I'm not even with Todd anymore, but that's the one personal thing that was on my desk. Well, that and the picture of you and me making faces… okay, I'm rambling. Back to your point, my beautiful, brilliant, bespectacled Christian: people who don't write just don't get it. To write, you need an idea first. Sure, you have been super supportive of my writing since High School. I mean, we worked on the school newspaper together….”
“Also, I was an English Lit major, don't forget.” Christian reminded.
Jane allowed that. “Yes, but writing a book is a big thing. Where's the idea? The idea, I repeat, while imagining bold curvy neon letters, blinking on and off like every sign outside a film noir hotel room: I need a killer IDEA.”
Christian ignored the rising drama, and took a shot of Fireball.
Jane continued, “Yes, I write stunningly amazing prose and kick-ass poetry… that no one reads. Not to mention, my claim-to-zero-fame is as the writer of in-depth piercing exposé of school water polo team in-fighting. Plus, my friend, I've peeked out into the real-world - it's a big, wild, weird, very crowded world of wannabe authors.”
“You can do anything.” Christian tempered the compliment with her old nickname, “Little Plain Jane just needs a hook. A simple, elegant idea that is at once a plot, a great story foundation, and can be filled with all the dark and interesting machinations of human experience.” He shrugged, smiling. “How hard can it be?” Christian swallowed another spoonful of Snobar and decided to sip his shot glass of Fireball. “Okay. Let's think of one. How about your family? They're a little crazy. Some story potential there.”
Jane pondered this as she took another shot of Fireball. She laid down across her bed, on her stomach, in the apartment she was about to lose, sans job. Her fingers absently swirled her light brown hair. The cinnamon whiskey gave her a delicious burn as it traveled all the way to her toes. She soothed it with a spoonful of Brandy Alexander Chocolate Chip. She rejected Christian's idea. “Nope. Not crazy enough. I need Blanche Dubois crazy.”
“Your sister's crazy enough. Nice mid-century reference, by the way.” They clinked shot glasses to celebrate Jane's cleverness. “I'm not sure Blanche from Streetcar Named Desire was crazy, exactly. Well, maybe by the end…”
“But my sister's boring crazy. Like everyone-knows-someone-like-her crazy. Besides, If I wrote about her, she'd kill me with her silent, ever-present judgement.”
Christian rubbed the back of his neck, his short dark hair neatly rounded at the back. Jane noticed the familiar motion that accompanied his hard thinking. If he was hot, it would be sexy, Jane thought. She said, “Don't think too hard, my little Christian Jew. Might start a fire up there in your noggin.”
“That old wildly racist nickname again? Okay, Plain Jane – if we really are reviving the old monikers we gave each other. Also, watch it - you know I'm smarter than you.” he said, “Besides, I've told you Jacobson is not a Jewish surname, remember?”
She shrugged and took another shot. “I'm forced to reminisce back over our twenty-three years, after my recent financial reversals. How long have we known each other, anyway?”
“Eleven. We were eleven-year-olds when we met. Me in the giant thick glasses and you in the Laura Ingalls-inspired floral dress.”
Jane laughed, “Oh my God, I remember that. Two ready-made victims for sixth grade bullying.”
“You were the only one who would talk to me.” Christian smiled. “I think the teachers were embarrassed for us.” He chased the ice cream with the rest of his shot. “This ice cream is really good.”
“Heck yah, it is. Did they have other flavors?”
“Yes. But tonight called for chocolate,” he said, pushing the glasses up on his nose. “Jane, the real problem is, you don't really know yourself.”
That made Jane pause. “Wait, me? I know myself… hey, I got the job I wanted.”
“Correction, you got the internship for the job you kinda-sorta wanted – the one you wanted only after panicking Junior year and changing your major. A nice paid PR internship that warned you up front that they might not keep you on after three months.” He paused, realizing this may be too much truth, “Look, I'm not trying to get your hackles up…”
“My hackles are fine, jerk.”
“I'm just saying I think you should figure out who you are. Write about that.”