>As I wait for my manuscript to come home from school, I have been holding up pieces of it to the window and to the mirror. I watch light sparking off its facets as it turns in my hand.

Some of the sparks have caught fire.

Here are some of the secondary characters getting ready for a Christmas party… this passage is unlikely to show up in the novel, but it was fun to play with their voices.

Everything was perfectly planned: prosciutto and figs, wine soaked goat cheese, smoked salmon and chevre. Champagne chilling, punch made, with a non-alcoholic one for the teenagers, the music was chosen – not too heavy on the Christmas theme. Some U2, Van Morrison, a little Hip, and then some Ray Charles. I loved my new Boise sound system with the iPod dock. It meant I didn’t have to think about the music all evening. Lots of candles in frosted holders and a light touch of festive red. I tried to get Dallas to help, tried to engage her, but she either lay on the couch watching MTV or went outside to smoke. I even asked what music she would like to include on our little playlist, but she just shrugged and said she didn’t care. It’s all good, is what she said. That’s terrible grammar. Sometimes I think I would go insane if I did have a child. If they turned out like her. She makes me so tired and sad. I’m trying to help out my sister by letting her stay, but it’s costing us to have her here. Especially now. When the second implant hasn’t taken. I don’t think I can do it again. Not when I look at her.
Auntie keeps putting on that fake little smile and goes all teachery on me. All like happy and cheerful and then she goes all spazzy and starts crying and runs off to her room. Like how am I supposed to say, oh yeah, like let me help you with those little stupid pieces of whatever that stuff is, when any minute she’s going to throw a hissy fit and tell me how much she loves me and I don’t even appreciate her. I don’t give a shit about her stupid little party for her stupid friends. They all think I am like all hot for these old guys. I just like to watch them get all stupid and scared of me.
I don’t know why Dallas is always watching me. It feels a bit like one of those creepy movies where some innocent guy gets set up by a supposedly innocent girl. That maybe Becky is going to find a pair of her blood stained panties in my drawer, like in that movie with Rebecca deMornay. Dallas taunts me when I sit in a chair across the room, or on the far side of the kitchen table. I’m pretty sure she left the bathroom door open on purpose. I don’t want to see her like that. When I try to talk to Becky about sending her home, she cries and says I’m not supporting her. I hate how much this treatment is changing her, changing us. I hate how much she is suffering. But you’d think I had just slapped her when I suggested we consider adoption. We’re too old, she screamed. I don’t think we’re too old. She is only thirty-eight. I can’t think of her as being too old for anything. She has done so much planning for this party. All she’d let me do is pick up the flowers. That’s how it is. Clearly marked territory in our home. Sometimes it helps. Then the borders suddenly change and it’s a minefield. I think I’m supposed to stay out of the way, and I find out I was supposed to take out the garbage. But we never go to bed angry. Never. She will always come into my arms once we are in bed. She puts her head on my chest, her soft fine hair trailing down into my armpit, and she speaks. Sort of away from us, but real. I don’t talk much, but I really like that she does. She puts it all together in a way that makes sense. And then, when she cries I don’t feel so helpless. Because I get to hold her.