Some of my favorite stories revolve around two misfits bonding and finding a strange kind of love. I’m thinking of the movies Harold and Maude as well as, Hedgehog. And I’m thinking of Bonnie and Clyde or Huck Finn and Jim. And I’m thinking about outliers from my own stories, such as Mary and Nate which appears on this blog.
I’ve been thinking about our reactions to these characters as they endear to our hearts. For instance, in the normal scheme of things, would we even give a French concierge much consideration? Or what about the precocious 12-year-old, Paloma in the novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog or the movie based on the novel, Hedgehog?
How do we as authors create memorable outlier characters? How do we get into their head space, and better yet, their hearts? Obviously, we must draw up characters who are free of the usual stereotypes and cliches. For instance, Renee, the concierge in Hedgehog, defies cliches. She possesses a droll sense of humor, she’s literary, and she has wonderful insights about the people that pepper her environment.
The characters Harold and Maude certainly defy cliches in that they’re both rebelling against conformity. They meet at a funeral and the age difference isn’t something to scoff about. Given the era in which this movie was released (1971), pairing a 20-year-old pre-Goth rich boy with an 80-year-old eccentric is going to raise some concerns.
Holly Golightly from Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s comes to mind too. On the outside, she’s a glamor girl attracting men in the 1960s Manhattan. But underneath her skin, she’s a lost and confused girl still running through briar patches in search of turkey eggs. She encounters a homosexual writer struggling to get his work known, and though these two do bond, this bond doesn’t last. And yet, readers enjoy the ride.
Why do oddballs intrigue us as readers? That’s the first question to ask when creating these types of characters. And then the authors who do create these characters are probably outliers themselves, as many artists tend to lean in that direction. We must create characters who are different or eccentric without seeming fake about it. Any author who can pull this off deserves accolades.
It helps to have a good understanding of humanity and a desire to rebel against what seems normal. Deep down, none of us are normal. Perhaps this is why we enjoy eccentric characters bucking the system. We wish we could live and speak like them, but we lack the courage.
We applaud when Harold rebels against his flighty mother and pairs off with an octagenarian. We cry when Renee, the concierge suffers from a tragedy. But we applaud that Paloma doesn’t go through with her intended suicide and decides that she has reasons to stay put on the earth–mainly her interactions with Renee and a Japanese neighbor.
And when we create these characters it benefits us to have the concept of soul mates in mind since that’s what these characters are for each other. Our job is to write scenarios for these characters that promote compassion in viewers and readers of our work. and the author who can pull this off is guaranteed success, at least on the artistic level.
The novels on this list beg for numerous readings. I fell in love with the characters, found myself quoting from the novels, or I never get tired of talking about the themes in the novels. Different novels came to me at different times during my adult years (or the past 3o years, beginning in 1986).
The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood, first read in 1986
House of Spirits, Isabel Allende, first read in 1988
The Pilgrimage, Paulo Coelho, first read in the 1990s
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, first read in the 1990s
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez, mid-1990s
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, first read in the mid-1980s
Elegance of a Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery, first read in 2008 (?)
Pride and the Prejudice, Jane Austen, first read in 1990s
Lord of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien, first read in 2001
I first picked up Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman at an airport in Toronto (December 1986). Then I laughed my head off while I was on the plane heading to Vancouver. The Chinese man sitting next to me seemed nervous by my hysterics and sputtering. Later in my twenties, as I reread the novel, I noticed the darker themes, especially during my Saturn Return (age 28 -32) when I endured the Candida Diet. I too saw my world shrinking uncontrollably.
For those of you who have never read this Canadian classic first published in 1969, it centers around the character Marian McAlpin and her impending marriage to Peter, the quintessential man’s man. The closer Marian comes to her wedding date, the fewer foods her body will allow her to consume. Meanwhile, the proto-feminist message is that the society around her is consuming her!
Even though Atwood wrote this book at the tail-end of the tumultuous 1960s, we can interpret the messages of the books to fit contemporary times. For instance, every time someone rattles off a list of all the foods they can’t consume (due to allergies or other health reasons), I’m reminded of Miss McAlpin’s dilemma. In fact, specific scenes in Atwood’s novel including, the dinner scene with Duncan, Trevor, and Fischer where Marian sits through an uncomfortable meal where she has to discretely eliminate food from her plate and the dinner scene with Peter, Clara, and Joe where she hides meat under lettuce leaves, come to mind when dealing with people with food allergies.
Of course, Atwood wasn’t messaging us about food, but about a consumer culture that robs us of our liberties. At the beginning of the story, we already see the noose tightening around Marian’s neck when she has to sign up for a pension plan. She tells the accountant that she prefers not to sign the pension plan, but the accountant tells her it’s obligatory. Then we meet Peter with his guns, cameras, and conservative politics, not to mention sexual politics, that gives the reader a sense of suffocation. I’m sure this was Atwood’s intention too.
While the book harbors disturbing themes, it’s delightfully and wickedly funny. Not that someone with a limited food diet would find it funny. On page 166 of the novel, Marian faces what would be seen by food-sensitive folks as a common theme.
“For the protein variety she had been eating omelets and peanuts and quantities of cheese. The quiet fear, that came nearer to the surface now as she scanned the pages–she was in the ‘Salads’ section–was that this thing, this refusal of her mouth to eat, was malignant; that it would spread that slowly the circle now dividing the non-devourable from the devourable would become smaller and smaller…”
Then we see the treatment of “modern” women on page 222 when Peter uses Marian’s back as furniture. He places his ashtray in the hollow of Marian’s back; after they made love. Meanwhile, Marian’s mind worries about her diminishing food choices. Just that morning she was unable to eat rice pudding (the one mentioned at the beginning of the novel that was part of a marketing survey).
As the story progresses, the circle of allowable foods diminishes until Marian sits in a diner with Duncan and her body refuses every food choice on the menu. This is when the character takes matters into her own hands and stops acting like a passenger and sits in the driver’s seat, metaphorically-speaking. She makes a trip to the grocery store, buys ingredients for a cake. Then she makes a cake in the shape of a lady which she consumes in a weird sort of ritual.
She invites Peter over to consume the cake and when he refuses to get involved with the ritual, Marian breaks off their engagement. Meanwhile, Duncan (the strange man) consumes the cake lady leaving Marian feeling satisfied. On pages 309 and 310 , Marian watches Duncan consume the remainder of the cake (she had consumed most of the lady earlier). Atwood ends her classic debut novel with, “He scraped the last chocolate curl up with his fork and pushed away the plate. ‘Thank you,’ he said, licking his lips. ‘It was delicious.’
It has been years since I picked up this novel. And each decade that I read it, I find new themes. Part of my interpretation now revolves around both the consumer culture that I abhor and my own limited food list as my own body refuses certain foods, but for reasons different than the ones given in the novel.
I wonder what Atwood would say about gluten, GMO foods as well as, organic versus chemically-sprayed foods. What would she tell me about food phobias, and food Nazis and all the marketing in the form of articles that cause us to fear even more foods we once took for granted? We lived in a strange world in 1969 when the novel debuted, and we live in a much stranger world in 2016. And I have always found Atwood to possess a gift of prophecy.
The question remains as who is the consumer? Are we the consumer of food or is food consuming us? Are we the consumer of goods (to keep economies rolling along) or are the goods consuming us? I’m reminded of a line from the movie, French Kiss, where the younger sister of Kate’s fiancee says, “You’ll never buy a house. The house will end up consuming you. One night someone forgets to put out a cigarette and the house burns to the ground.” (Approximate quote).
Book quotes from Margaret Atwoods, The Edible Woman, Anchor Books, 1998, NY
So often we hear that writers can’t earn a decent income so go wait tables. Many authors also found out that self-publishing wasn’t the goldmine experience they expected. So then how can we earn a living while we pen our great American or international novels?
Professional Blogging–You have probably seen the ads on Craig’s List or perhaps you have joined any number of job sites for writers such as Pro Blogger and Media Bistro. Professional blogging is often a freelance gig, but not always. The pay I’ve seen ranges from $25 to $200 per blog article. And I have seen a variety of topics and expertise requested on the professional blogging lists.
Magazine Journalism–Again, unless you live in a major publishing hub like New York City, you’ll probably look for freelance gigs for magazines. I haven’t had a lot of luck pitching to magazine editors, but some writers make a living by befriending editors. Obviously, writing for arts and fashion or prominent magazines is extremely competitive, but you can pitch to crafting magazines, home and architecture, or trade magazines for best results. These magazines don’t pay much for articles, but I’ve earned between $200 -$300 writing for lesser magazines.
Copy Editing–These jobs are advertised on Media Bistro and the professional blogger job lists that are e-mailed to your in-box. You will have to take a copy editing test. Many smaller book publishers hire freelance copy editors.
Assistant to a Literary Agent–I don’t know how to land this position. I imagine starting out as an intern opens doors as does living in a major book publishing hub. BTW, many literary agents are also published authors. You will do more reading than writing with this position but at least you’ll make contacts in the industry.
Public Relations Assistant or Director–You can usually find these positions in major cities with large advertising and public relations firms. However, even though writing skills come in handy, so does excellent verbal communication and ability to make public presentations and to put out proverbial fires especially if you represent controversial people and companies.
Copy writing–I have seen in-house and freelance copy writing positions advertised on the job lists for writers. Sometimes you have to relocate to a major city. I’ve seen a few positions available in Portland, Oregon which is a great place for younger writers (ie: millennials).
Ghost Writer–Last, but not least, I’ve seen both magazine and book publishers seeking ghost writers. This is not something I would enjoy doing, but ghost writing sometimes pays the bills, even if you receive no notoriety from your efforts. It’s definitely bread and butter work with no glamor attached. No one ever became a New York Times Best-Selling Ghost Writer.
So there you have it, a list of writing opportunities that you might have or not have considered in the past. And some writers are still finding work with newspapers, though this is rare these days.
Photo credit: Patricia Herlevi All Rights Reserved
This story hails from the early millennium. I set this story of two misfits in Seattle during the vintage years. Sadly, this story never received publication anywhere, even though I featured it on author websites.
Mary & Nate
How they met…
Mary hasn’t lived in Seattle long enough to appreciate sun breaks. Rain falls from the sky in sheets while gusty winds creating a wash n’ dry effect.
She huddles near the doorway of a record shop where she sold her old Neil Diamond records, but didn’t have much luck with the other ones. In fact, the rude clerk with the ring dangling from his nose and a mean tattoo of God-knows-what dancing menacingly on his biceps, scoffed at the records. “No one listens to these anymore.” Then he slammed the records down on the counter causing Mary to scurry out of the store.
The wind shifts directions and now the rain soaks Mary’s plaid vintage coat. She stuffs the records under her coat and prays for the bus to arrive. It’s already five minutes off schedule, most likely because of this lovely Seattle weather.
Finally, she spots the bus coming over the hill– a squawk of brakes announces its beastly presence. Pulling her wet hair into a pony tail, she shakes water off of her useless umbrella. The bus comes to a halt and lets out a mechanical fart.
Mary trips on the stairs and plops down absent mindedly next to a young man wearing thick glasses and a trench coat. She drops a record and the young man picks it up and stares at the cover.
“I didn’t know anyone still listens to old Barry.”
Hands shaking, the man gives the record to Mary. She glances at him and a slow smile spreads across her dripping face.
“I’m a rarity.”
He responds, “You don’t say.”
“I sold my Neil Diamond records pretty easily. The clerk called Neil kitsch, but he scoffed at me when I showed him my Manilow records, the jerk.”
A family of crows rummaging through the garbage grabs Mary’s attention. She gazes out the window, while the man stares at her profile.
He finds her attractive, even refreshing and he prefers glean of the raindrops that drip from her nose, her glasses, and cheeks.
“So if you like Barry so much why are you selling your records?”
“I just moved here, I need rent money and I’d like to break away from my past.”
The man wonders why she would say something like “break away from my past.” She doesn’t look like someone who has lived a sordid life. Yet, new people move to Seattle all of the time, starting over as they say. Some of them rode the bus where the young man in the trench coat, although hardly a detective, pried their life stories out of them.
“So where did you live before?”
Mary studies the young man’s face. She likes his deep brown eyes even if they are hidden behind those glasses. Perhaps, he is one of those computer nerds that will graduate from college and earn big bucks or just a lowly sci-fi bookworm. She can’t tell, but he appears genuinely interested in her and she feels flattered.
“I moved here from Detroit. I worked as an editorial assistant for a publisher of dictionaries. Now I’m a freelance word collector.”
“I’ve not heard of that profession before, a word collector. I’d like to talk more, but the next stop’s mine.”
He pulls the cord and the bell rings, announcing his presence to everyone on the bus. He turns to Mary and blushes. “I forgot to ask your name.”
Flustered, Mary drops another record on the floor. Nate retrieves it and gives it to her, his hand accidentally brushing against hers.
“Mary Jones, just plain Mary Jones.”
Nate makes his way to the bus exit and shouts, “I’m Nate. I hope to see you around.”
Mary yanks the hood of her coat over her face while other riders gawk at her. She wonders if they know her status as a thirty-something virgin. Word gets around. Although she hardly resembles the Maid of Orleans, she does possess a freshness that shouts purity like a sell-by date on a package of chocolate chip cookies or a carton of milk.
And then later…
Hidden behind her pink umbrella, Mary dashes down the stairs of a library. She crashes into Nate. “Hey, watch out!”
Nate pulls the umbrella away from Mary’s face. “Hey it’s you, just plain Mary Jones, right?”
Mary grimaces, “Who else would crash into you. I’m a walking accident these days.”
Nate smiles shyly, “Do you believe in kismet?”
Mary fixes her umbrella. “No, but I could quote the dictionary definition for you.”
Nate chuckles, “Don’t bother, some words don’t need an explanation. It ruins the magic.”
“Oh, really, are you trying to put me out of work?”
Nate spends another day of drudgery in the basement of the library. When he’s in one of his imaginative moods, he pretends that he has been condemned to a medieval dungeon for life, for loving a princess from the wrong fiefdom.
But in reality, Nate’s work involves a bit of slicing and dicing of videotape covers, which he then slips into library-approved plastic covers. The older man sitting next to him, a British expatriate and a lifer, places stickers on the covers. Nate whistles under his breath while the older man studies Nate’s face for telltale signs of amore.
He nudges Nate in the arm. “You seem in a chipper mood today.”
Nate slides another tape into its new home. “Really?”
The older man continues to study Nate’s face. “Ah, I bet you met a woman!”
Nate blushes, “Why would you say that?”
“I’ve been around and I know what’s going on here.”
Nate chokes and clears his throat.
The older man continues his inquisition. “It’s okay with me. It’s not like this job will light your fire or anything.”
“Why should I light anything?”
“Nathaniel, my good chap, you’re still a pup. You should take advantage of that fact or end up an old bloke like me.”
Nate chokes, “I’m only in my thirties and have a long way to go.”
“I said the same thing at your age and then time passed me by as the old cliché goes. It’s like a train wreck, really. One day you wake up and you’re fifty-five!”
If only I were a bubbly blonde supermodel…
Meanwhile, in another part of the waterlogged city, Mary lounges at her kitchen table staring at a small computer screen. Occasionally she types in a paragraph or two. She grabs a copy of a fashion magazine, pores over a story and tosses the magazine into a bin.
She shakes her cramped legs as she pries herself away from her computer and she heads over to her miniscule bathroom. She stares at her face in the mirror and glosses her lips with flaming red lipstick then she washes it off. She ties her dishwater blonde hair back into a bun and she tries out several seductive facial expressions, but finds that she resembles a hardly erotic Mary Poppins.
She scowls at her reflection. “Oh, blast off Mary Jones.”
Then as a spontaneous act, she sprays shaving crème on her reflection in the mirror.
The excitement builds…
Six months later, Mary and Nate talk quietly at a table in the corner of the library. Mary glances through a large reference book. Her eyes peel away from the book and wander to Nate’s face.
“So how long have you worked here?”
Mary drops a pen on the floor. Her long hair brushes against Nate’s shoulder when she bends down to pick up the pen. They both shudder. Nate feels embarrassed about his thoughts about doing the deed with Mary in the library.
He shakes the thought out of his mind and returns to Mary’s question. “I’m not a lifer yet.”
Mary feels perplexed not comprehending why working at a library is such a undesirable profession. “You act like there’s something wrong with working here. I think that it’s a noble career hanging around all of these words.” Mary’s voice crescendos “Imagine!”
“Sshhh! Don’t get so excited. It’s really not that dramatic.”
Mary gawks, “Are you joking? So where did you say that you worked?”
“In the dungeon.”
“And what do you do again?”
“You know very well what I do.”
“Then, show me your work.”
Mary grabs few video tapes off of a shelf and she takes them to the table where she examines Nate’s work. She grins at him.
He frowns, “I don’t know what you’re getting so worked up about.”
Mary hugs a videotape to her chest. “I need something to live for.”
The obligatory thrift store scene…
Later that afternoon, Nate and Mary find something, at least temporary to live for. They race their shopping carts across a vast thrift store. They come to a halt at the hat rack. Mary reaches for a black watchman hat. “Ooh, I like this one. It’s so mysterioso.”
She yanks it over Nate’s face.
“Why did you do that?”
Mary guffaws. “You look like a bank robber. See I have this fantasy along the lines of Patricia Hearst.”
Yanking the hat off, Nate tosses it at Mary. “Sounds pretty Marquis de Sade to me.” He reaches for a straw hat covered in daisies and he daintily places it on his head. “I think this one shows off my feminine side quite nicely.”
“Yeah, if you’re over sixty and hanging out at a church function.”
Nate imitates an old timer, swaying his frail hips. He cops a Southern accent, “Or maybe I’m one of those southern belles.”
Mary shakes her head, “Those belles have large pointy chests and they’re always heaving so that virile men will notice their chronic femininity.”
Nate removes the hat. “I do declare you know a lot of words, young Mary.”
Mary removes her pink trench coat and replaces it with a plaid wool hunting jacket. She stuffs her trench coat into an overstuffed shopping bag.
She glances at Nate, “All in a day’s work. Not bad for twenty dollars. And it’s not like I ever dreamed of being a fashion plate.”
Nate’s crooked grin shines up his face. “You don’t know how refreshing it is to hear you say that.”
“Yeah, I’m not into living a vacuous existence.”
“There you go with those difficult words again.”
Mary socks Nate’s arm. “What is it with you and my vocabulary? You work at a library so study the dictionary one of these days.”
“I work in the video department and everyone knows that people who watch movies don’t read books.”
“Where did you hear that? That’s insane.”
The Venus-Mars Fly Trap…
They sit on two ends of Mary’s couch as if balancing a seesaw. Nate watches a sci-fi film while Mary studies a huge dictionary. Mary glances at Nate. “Look, here’s that word again!”
Nate ignores Mary. She sulks and watches him across the expanse of the couch staring at the small TV screen, completely absorbed in the boring film.
“So is the movie almost over?”
Nate gawks at Mary, “I thought you were enjoying it.”
Mary wonders if she and Nate are on the same planet, much less the same room. She hasn’t even watched the movie. Hasn’t he noticed? If she was enjoying the movie, she wouldn’t be poring through a dictionary during the movie.
“Not really. I never cared for Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
Nate blows his nose and wipes his eyes on his sleeve. “But it’s a classic!”
Mary pushes her glasses up on her nose. “Maybe, but I prefer something that’s not so cheap.”
“But that’s the whole point!”
“Oh, I know. I like Ed Wood and stuff like that, but this one doesn’t do anything for me.”
Nate stops the tape. “To each her own. And the answer to your question is yes, it’s almost over, or was, but it’s no fun watching it alone.”
Nate gazes at Mary. He doesn’t quite understand the flush expression on her face. She doesn’t seem perturbed by his passionate response to the B-flick, but she seems turned on. He’s never seen her like this before so all of a sudden he feels nervous, tense and as if he’ll lose control.
“So what do you want to do?”
Mary coyly tilts her head. She can think of lots of things to do, amorous things, if only she had the experience. Her cheeks burn with her blood, her stomach turns somersaults and her mouth feels suddenly dry as a desert. Nevertheless she scrambles across the couch and closer to Nate. She leans towards Nate hoping he will plant a nice juicy kiss on her parched lips.
Nate pulls away. Mary advances, kiss me you fool. They lean in for the kiss, but their glasses crash into each other.
“Now, why didn’t we think of removing our glasses first? That really smarts.”
Removing her glasses, she checks them for cracks and rubs her eyes. She feels tears of pain, and laughter, she isn’t sure what, welling up in her gray eyes.
Nate polishes his glasses and he looks sheepishly at Mary. “Why can’t we just do this like normal people? It can’t be that difficult.”
“That’s because anyone who’s still a virgin at our age isn’t normal.”
The couple tries to kiss one more time, but fails. They give up. “We can just be friends… Certainly we are not flowers of desire, fountains of love and the stuff that knocked the socks off of troubadours.”
Mary snickers, “Most certainly not.”
What does Mozart have to do with it?
A week later Mary decides to stop by the library and visit Nate. She listens to one of Mozart’s operas blasting out of her walkman as she bounces down the street. She pretends that she has been transported to the classical era, Vienna to be exact. She wonders what words they would have spoken then. If men or women collected words the way she does now and what were the buzz words at that time?
Meanwhile, Nate emerges from the library. He sees Mary a block away and sprints down the stairs. He shouts at Mary, but she ignores him. He can’t see that she is listening to her walkman. Is she blowing me off? Why? He can’t kiss her like a troubadour? It’s not that he doesn’t want to, it’s just that…
He shouts at Mary again waving his arms frantically hoping she’ll notice him. Everyone else notices the crazy man in a plaid hunting jacket running down the street shouting and waving his arms, like Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny, but not Mary Jones.
Finally, Mary looks up and sees Nate. She smiles, waves and dashes across a busy street, not noticing the traffic. She can’t hear a thing, except Mozart in slow motion and all she sees is Nate calling her like an angel from the abyss. A car swerves Mary and honks at her. Another car glides towards and hits Mary. Her body flies upward then lands on the street with a slight thud. The driver leaps from her car. Pulling out a cell phone, the driver frantically dials a number.
Nate dashes into the street stopping traffic. He scoops Mary’s unconscious body in his arms and carries her to the sidewalk, tears flow down his face. He pulls the headphones off of Mary’s head as Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro pours out into the world. At least it isn’t Manilow.
Moments later an ambulance tears down the street. Nate holds onto Mary’s hand and he trembles as the medics approach.
Nate studies Mary’s serene face. He sees their short time together flickering on a screen before him, the day they met on the bus and Mary felt embarrassed about her Manilow records. Then he sees the day that they spent in a thrift store updating Mary’s wardrobe with vintage clothes and the plaid hunting jacket that Nate borrows from Mary because they are roughly the same size. He recalls all those little things that aggravates him, but also all those things that turn him on.
A medic gently taps Nate on the shoulder. Nate shrugs the Medic off and plants a kiss on Mary’s lips.
The medic gently pulls Nate away from Mary. “I think that she’ll be fine, but we need to take her to the hospital.”
Obligatory sappy nostalgic scene…
Nate nods as more tears flow down his cheeks. This is worse than a bad hair day. He thinks of amusing thoughts to cheer himself up such as Mary’s obsession with words or her taste in movies-foreign films. Godard, Bergman, Fellini… He would’ve never discovered those filmmakers on his own, not even working in the video dungeon where he never paid much attention to his work. Now, a whole new world opens up to him.
A Near life experience…
Mary wakes up in a hospital bed. She feels somewhat bruised, but alive. She feels different and special because of all the medical attention she has been receiving. She looks around for Nate and wonders when he’ll emerge from the din and chaos that surrounds her. She wonders what would’ve happened had the car killed her. What would happen to Nate? Oh, what maudlin thoughts!
That evening, Nate holds Mary’s hand. She gazes sweetly into his face, the way an exhausted child might before falling into a deep sleep. Nate seems more mature and stolid than usual. She wonders how her own experience has transformed him. She wants to make a joke, but refrains for the moment because he looks too serious.
“What’s up? You look different.”
Nate blushes, wondering how he looks different. Mary continues to stare at him. “Yes, you really look different.”
Nate’s signature grin spreads across his face. “So do you.”
“Near life experiences will do that to a girl.”
Nate confesses, “I kissed you while you were unconscious. I thought it might be my last opportunity.”
“Honey, take a closer look. I’m hardly Sleeping Beauty.”
“Was it good for you?”
“Kiss me again while we’re both awake.”
Nate crawls onto the bed and leans into Mary’s face which rests on a pile of pillows–just like Sleeping Beauty in her glass coffin. He plants an awkward kiss on Mary’s lips, but a kiss nonetheless. And Mary enjoys it for what it’s worth.
She sighs, “They say that it gets better with practice.”
Nate laughs, “In that case, there’s time for me yet to kiss you like a troubadour.” He crawls under the sheets and embraces Mary.
She giggles, “Oh, those words! Why must you say such large words?”