It’s been a while since I dropped anything about BIRTHQUAKE, so I figured I’d give a little teaser from my work in progress. This sucker is unedited, unrevised and unseen by anyone. So for all we know, it could end up on the cutting room floor (we shall see how it plays out!). And in a land, far, far away … my editor is cringing that I’m posting this … love you, JRH!
“Before we really get into the ins and outs of your bodies and childbirth, I thought we’d do a little ice breaker? You know, since we’ll be spending a few hours each week together for the next month. Let’s all go around the room, introduce ourselves, and tell everyone about the last movie you saw?”
I softly groan at the suggestion, loathing any kind of group activity that involves sharing.
Deborah looks around the circle. “How about we start with … you.”
Thankfully she gestures to a young mocha skinned woman with a man who could easily be in his fifties. The woman perks up.
“Hi! I’m Jade, this is my husband Walter and this,” she places her hands on her stomach adoringly, “is little Kitty Sunshine.”
For some reason unbeknownst to me, the entire class breaks out into a polite golf clap while I fight breaking out into laughter. I lean over and whisper to Jeff, “Is she having a baby or giving birth to a My Little Pony?”
“And let’s see … the last movie we saw was The Quince Tree Sun. It’s this incredible biography of a Spanish artist named Antonio Lopez. It closely follows his agonizing plight to paint the perfect tree in his back yard.”
Umm … that sounds agonizing indeed.
“Seriously? I’d rather watch paint dry than be subjected to that torture,” Jeff whispers.
Couple after couple introduce themselves and I realize just how uncultured I am. Stuart and Jane? They quite enjoyed Ma Vie en Rose. They lost me at the word “subtitles.” The lesbian couple across from us? They’re obsessed with this drama called Maria Full of Grace where a pregnant teenager from Colombia works as a drug mule transporting cocaine in her stomach to the states. And the androgynous hipsters also known as Sawyer and Bennie? They don’t believe in televisions or movies or anything remotely entertaining, but they do spin their own organic yarn in their spare time and make baby blankets and tiny hats for preemies in the NICU wing. Obviously Sawyer and Bennie are far better people than Jeff and me.
I shift uncomfortably on the floor as the couple next to us prattles on about Selma. I tried watching it … I really did. But after about twenty minutes I traded civil rights for a tiny house renovation show that was far more interesting.
Hey now, don’t judge. I never said I was a good person. And yes, I’m well aware I am probably going to hell.
Jeff squeezes my hips when the silence in the room lasts a beat too long and I realize that everyone is staring at me.
“Hi, everyone.” I raise my hand awkwardly in a half wave, trying to hide the anguish of this exercise on my face. “I’m Henley. This is my fiancé, Jeff. And the last movie I saw was this award-winning British documentary about the struggles of a modern day woman on the path of self discovery. In the process she falls in love with not one, but two men, who fight for her returned affection.” Kitty Sunshine’s mother looks at me expectantly and I quickly continue. “The film was so powerful it made me cry. And the cast was truly outstanding.”
“This sounds empowering! What’s the film called?” Jane asks from across the room.
I bite my lip and swallow hard.
“Umm, the name escapes me right now, but this was a moving and life changing film.” my voice breaks unconvincingly and I struggle to recover. “Everyone has to see it! I’ll look up the name and let you know next time.” Which is a blatant lie because there’s no way in hell I’m ever coming back here. But the class blissfully nods in approval and moves on to the next couple in the circle.
Jeff’s breath tickles just below the curve of my jaw. He speaks softly so he doesn’t interrupt the next couple giving their introduction. “What on earth are you talking about, Henley? The last movie we saw had Hugh Grant, Renee Zellweger and that guy from The King’s Speech.”
“Yeah. That’s the one … the last movie we saw was Bridget Jones’s Diary. But I can’t let them know that!” I gesture to the gaggle of vultures mentally criticizing my every word. These were, no doubt, the kinds of parents who will only allow their children to eat organic foods, exclusively use essential oils instead of over the counter drugs and have had their children listening to Mozart in utero since the moment they peed on a stick.
I can feel my eyes roll to the back of my head as the final couple begins to wax poetic about some obscure award-winning indie movie that their dog walker’s next door neighbor directed.
“Oh my god. I am so shallow!” I hiss into Jeff’s ear.
“Babe, you’re not shallow. Nobody here is judging you.”
I snort inadvertently. Does this man not know me at all?
“I know nobody is judging me. But my twat is judging them!”
“You’re vajudging them?” He snickers to himself, amused.
“I’m going to be vajudging you if you don’t start behaving.” I elbow him in the ribs playfully.
Be sure to add BIRTHQUAKE to your GoodReads TBR list if you haven’t already! And if you’re interested in joining the ARC team for this novel, please reach out and let me know!