Chapter 11: Seven of Wands

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Holding firm, a position of advantage, a conflict or struggle, matters coming to a head.  Maintaining your position, strength in adversity, coping successfully, determination, when the going gets tough... Call on your reserves of strength and courage to prevail during this time of confrontation.

The smell of hazelnut coffee tinged the air, an older model coffee maker's red light and busy-brewing gurgle proof it was carrying out its mission as Marlena entered the living room, dropping her overnight bag beside the wingback and slipping on the short heels.

Her analysis of Eddie's body language, hands stuffed in rear pockets and staring out a ground level window at the early morning light, certainly wasn't the intense, ready-for-battle pose his last words in the bedroom had indicated she should expect. 

 It was a different, less familiar vibe, something with a lot less zip...

"You're right, Eddie, we've got plenty to talk about, and while that should include discussing my checking into your life before coming here, nothing about this visit is designed to..."

His sniff caught her by surprise, stopped her cold mid-thought. In the range of reactions she'd prepared for - intellectual resistance, defiance, even his anger - would have been possibilities, but sniffles? Not hardly...

"Christ, what the hell am I supposed to do, Marlena?" Eddie turned around, flicking the ball of one thumb across an eye. "Four months ago I mailed out a literal and literary piece-of-my-guts, something that included every memorable greatness of a truly amazing woman I thankfully didn't have to imagine all that much. I used the incredible loved-and-lost that was us from college, but I was proud about actually getting it on paper, putting deep, deep stuff into words and wrapping a story around it.

"I honest to God thought I'd nailed those sample chapters dead on. Steep odds, adventure, lots of romancing. Selection's always a long shot though, and of course," he dropped back, hips propped against the countertop, "shooting to anywhere still requires Penguin Putnam, or whomever, to green light sending more.

"Against the reality of submitting anything to any publisher, I admit to dreaming my shit skyrocketed to insanely great levels, moving me from apartment manager and unknown to something like John Grisham, Part Twelve. Then, because l broadcast my whereabouts and success by telling a deeply touching story of striving to Oprah and the morning show hosts, that same unforgettable woman miraculously finds me again.

"Knowing William Kennedy got rejected twenty-six times before winning the Pulitzer with 'Ironweed' is one kind of intellectual fact, and this particular element coming back Monday was the seventh time, but everything I believe I know is old news compared to you and events from 4:30 yesterday, and especially four minutes ago.

"Em, you've gotta know you are so, so, so desirable, so physically fantastic. Take all the superlative personal adjectives I jammed into my book, and I'm telling you without hesitation, you've absolutely smoked every thought I expressed.

"Yesterday there was nothing but naked walls inside me, but right now, there's not enough room in my heart for all that I'm feeling. 

Jesus, Marlena, it hurts to remember everything I blew away a lifetime ago, and that's mixing with the yabba-dabba-doo of what happened so fantastically at 3 a.m., you know? I'm living that crushed cowboy in a twangy country song, daylights just breakin' and her bags are at the door stuff, and it's kicking my ever-lovin' ass!

"It's so freaking unreal Marlena. Here you are, looking and feeling, oh my God, feeling! One night with you will always be soooo much better than a thousand dreams. I know I was an asshole about myself and your money situation back in school, but why can't I help thinking, 'cuz its reallllly on top of things right now, that you knowing about a Category-4 disaster like Goldstein - because I've been checked on for most of six years - and doing nothing to stop it raises just the sliiightest doubt about your love being the absolutely kill-me-but-I'll-never-change greatness of long ago?

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