- Foreword: Writing Rochester's Futures
- "Interesting Times"
- "Culinary Capital, 2034"
- "Night Bells"
- "Hollow Lives"
- "The Naked Girl"
- "Time Enough for Love"
- "Day of the Bicentennial"
- "One City at a Time"
- "Want Not"
- "The Costs of Survival"
- "Getting Wet"
- "Top 10 Headlines, Rochester, NY, 2034"
- "North Star Pipeline"
- "The 2034 Lilac Festival"
- "Scotch and Sizzlenuts on the Resolute Bay"
- "Fads (or Why Jerry Loathes the Aliens)" [FULL TEXT, AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY]
“You look like hell,” Susan said as soon as I came into the office. “Carousing last night, CeeCee?”
“Ha ha,” I said sourly. “Last night was Sunday. I only carouse Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.”
“I can imagine,” Susan said. “You have a client in ten minutes.”
“No problem.” I headed for the bathroom.
We were both lying.
I hadn’t been carousing. Placid, even-keeled Susan couldn’t imagine what I had been doing, even though she knew perfectly well why I’d been doing it. And in my current state, a client in ten minutes was a problem. But Susan was sensitive—she wouldn’t have been such a good assistant if she weren’t—and our mutual fiction, that my sleeplessness was due to high living, let her show concern without prying. With such necessary fictions is the machinery of small businesses kept oiled. Ours was as small as you can get: Susan, me, and—indirectly—the reason I’d been sleepless and pacing and drinking most of the night.
He was on the phone when I emerged from a fruitless session in front of the mirror. Powder, lipstick, under-eye concealer—make-up can only do so much. It’s not like I could afford regrown skin. My head hurt. Susan mouthed “Derek,” turned her desk screen to face me, and diplomatically pretended intense absorption in paperwork.
“You look like hell,” Derek said.
“Thank you. I always could count on you for support.”
“Can’t resist sniping, can you, CeeCee? What the fuck have you done now? What is this lawsuit about?”
“Lawsuit?” I looked at Susan, who held up a packet of official-looking papers.
Derek said, “I was served at 8:00 this morning and I assume you were, too. Don’t play dumb with me!”
I wasn’t playing dumb; I was dumb. My soon-to-be-ex-husband’s eyes blazed. Derek has the bluest eyes on the planet: Mediterranean blue, robin’s egg blue, childhood skies blue. The blue glittered with anger, which God knows I’d seen enough of from him, but also with something that in anyone else I would have taken for fear. Despite myself, and despite everything of surpassing awfulness that had transpired between us in the surpassingly awful last year, I was swept with dumb longing. This divorce was his idea, not mine. His and Penelope’s.
I had delayed it every way I could, but I couldn’t stop it. It was going to happen. When I could speak again, I said, “Derek, I just got to the office and I have a client in —” Behind me, the office door opened “— right now. I’ll call you later.”
Susan was already saying warmly, “Welcome to GeneLove, Mr. Brandon,” and I took a deep breath, stuck a smile on my face, and turned around to greet yet another love-starved skeptic I would have to convert.
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