Read What you remember i did Online

Authors: Janet Berliner, Janet & Tem Berliner

What you remember i did

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What You Remember I Did 

By Janet Berliner & Melanie Tem

 

 

First Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press & Macabre Ink Digital

Copyright 2011 Janet Berliner & Melanie Tem

Copy Editing by Erin Bailey

Cover Design by David Dodd

LICENSE NOTES: 

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return the vendor of your choice and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

ALSO FROM MELANIE TEM & CROSSROAD PRESS 

NOVELS:

Prodigal

Slain in the Spirit

 

WITH STEV RASNIC TEM

Daughters

 

UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOKS:

Slain in the Spirit – Narrated by Ann Richards

 

ALSO FROM JANET BERLINER & CROSSROAD PRESS

 

NOVELS:

With GeorgeGuthridge

Sol's Song

Child of the Light

Child of the Journey

Children of the Dusk

 

UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOKS:

Child of the Light – Narrated by Jane McDowell

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About the Authors: 

Janet Berlineris the author of six novels, including the four-way collaborationArtifact(with Kevin J. Anderson, Matthew J. Costello, and F. Paul Wilson) and the award-winningChildren of the Dusk(with GeorgeGuthridge). She has also edited six anthologies, includingSnapshots: Twentieth Century Mother-Daughter Fiction(with Joyce Carol Oates) and two volumes with illusionist David Copperfield.

More information can be found on Janet's web site, http://www.janetberliner.com/

 

Melanie Temis the author of more than a dozen novels, including the award-winningMaking Love(with Nancy Holder), and the international bestsellerBlack River. Along with her husband, SteveRasnicTem, she earned multiple awards for the novella "The Man on the Ceiling" (forthcoming in an expanded novel form fromWizards of the Coast Discoveries, the new Speculative Fiction imprint) and for the multimedia collection Imagination Box.

More information can be found on Melanie's web site, http://www.m-s-tem.com/

CHAPTER ONE 

Nan didn't like being late for anything. Most of all, she didn't like staging a grand entrance. She carefully let herself into the college auditorium, hoping no one would notice her, but the big wooden door squeakedunobliginglyand the hubbub from the courtyard followed her in. As if he could feel her scrutiny–or maybe just annoyed by her interruption–the poet up at the podium stopped reading and looked at her over the heads of the small crowd. Numerous others turned to follow his gaze.

She shut the door behind her and waved an apology, which the poet, Matthew Mullen, didn't acknowledge except to look down at the book from which he'd been reading and make a "Where was I?" show of finding the place she'd caused him to lose. He resumed reading into the microphone in a surprisingly conversational tone, his voice deep and mellow, with a strong New England accent:

 

In all its forms, in all its

Fashions, no matter

How we remember it,

Love is decidedly

Perverse.

 

Just what she needed, a night of nonsense and pessimism.

She glanced around the auditorium. There were enough empty seats that being inconspicuous would have been hard even if she hadn't actually drawn attention to herself. Leaving would make matters worse, so she did the next best thing and chose a seat near the door, wondering why poetry readings didn't have intermissions. Mullen was not at all the James Mason look-alike her friend had led her to expect, though he had a similar underlying sensuality. He was a fiftyish man with either short gray hair or a ponytail. She mentally composed irritable witticisms for Dan Masterson the next time she saw him. "'Cute' my ass. Don't do me any more favors, okay? Let me screw up my own love life. I've had plenty of practice."

"Perversion does Lovelove." Mullen was breathily close to the mic.

Nan groaned inwardly and shifted in the already uncomfortable seat. What the hell could that possibly mean? This was why today's poetry was, if not actually dead, then certainly demented. Defined by the spewing of meaningless words.

Which made her think of Mom. Which made her sad and tired. Which made her wish she'd stopped for coffee on the way here. When she'd called home after her last student, half an hour ago, Liz-the-caregiver had pronounced this a pretty good day and figured Nan could stay another hour on campus before hitting the highway toward home.

Easy for her to say; her responsibility ended when she went home at six.

Nan immediately felt guilty about allowing herself so much as a hint of resentment. The good part was, she told herself, that an hour of poetry like this could very well reduce her to a state not much more oriented than Mom's. Tonight they could wander around the house naked together. Despite herself, despite the residual pain and revulsion that came with the image of her mother going from room to room dropping clothes along the way until she was standing entirely nude in front of the open refrigerator complaining of the cold, Nan chuckled.

At the same moment Matthew Mullen bellowed:

But I did not do what you remember I did!

I did not!

 

Nan wanted to cover her ears. Whatever had happened to Auden, Angelou, Dickenson–Shakespeare, for God's sake? Where were the Moderns like Dickey and Masterson? Then again, who was she to judge when she didn't have a creative bone in her body? Unless creative financing counted. Maybe she was missing something. Mullen had, after all, won the Yale Younger Poets Award–a thousand years ago, about the same time she'd won her first Junior Nationals. Comparing tennis and poetry was a stretch, but at least she'd known when it was time to quit. She wondered if poets understood the concept of retiring at the top of your form.

Bored, she looked at Mullen more closely. There was something attractive about him. She felt a stirring of interest and dismissed it at once as pointless, given what she'd lately learned about the limp libidos of men her age.

But I did not do what you remember I did!

I did not!

 

This time Mullen read the lines in a whisper. A protracted moment of silence was followed by enthusiastic applause. Nan clapped once or twice, looking for a chance to escape. The poet held up his hand. The applause faded and stopped. She had lost the moment.

"Thank you." Mullen smiled pleasantly. "I trust in the next few weeks I'll get to know many of you personally and find out if you really liked what you heard, or if not, why not. For now, it's open mic time." He started to walk off the stage.

"Dr. Mullen!"

The poet searched for the owner of the voice.

"I'm going to read. Would you honor me by staying?"

Mullen hardly hesitated. "I'm sorry." He looked directly at Nan. "I have a previous engagement."

His eyes held an appeal for help. Nan found herself nodding slightly as she stood up and made for the exit. She bought his book of poetry from a student at a table in the lobby. When Mullen joined her, she handed it to him for his signature.

"For my mother," she said. "Her name's Catherine with a C."

"You must be Dan's friend, the tennis player," he said, scribbling on the title page. "Sorry about using you so shamelessly in there."

"No problem." She was pleased he hadn't said the tennisteacher. "I hate to see a fellow human suffer."

"Could I buy you a cup of coffee–Nan, isn't it?"

"Nan it is, but coffee's out. I have to be on my way home in exactly–" she looked at her watch, "–twenty minutes."

"Your family awaits?"

"My mother. She's...not well." She stopped herself from adding that she had two brothers and two sisters, who helped with her mother to varying degrees, but that she was the primary caregiver. Usually, she threw in the caregiver part as soon as possible. Most people backed off at once. She had found it was better to gauge reactions earlier rather than later, but for some reason she didn't say it now.

"The machines are pretty fast." He gestured toward the student union across the hall. His eyes crinkled at the edges when he smiled, giving him the appearance of a naughty schoolboy. Nan liked that. "I bet we could get a couple of cups of coffee in fifteen minutes."

They poured their coffee from the bottom of an old pot and suggested to the student at the cash register that he should make a fresh brew. "Bring mine in Styrofoam, with a lid," Nan said. "Please."

"Sure thing. I'll bring you guys a fresh cup as soon as it's ready."

The kid looked like a younger, slimmer version of her ex, face more pretty than handsome, body language inviting, blue eyes gazing deep into Matt's. Was it something aboutherthat sent men scuttling toward their feminine sides?

Nan sighed. Her insecurities were showing again. Still. And her anger at herself for her inability to see what had been right in front of her. She had never considered other people's sexual proclivities of any interest to her, but things had changed: Her husband of more than twenty years coming out of the closet; having to tell Ashley that Dad wasn't who she thought he was; having to tell Jordan that Grandpa wouldn't be around when she came to visit.

She glanced at Matt as they sat down at a small, square metal table. Were secrets encrypted in his poetry? Was it possible to reach middle age without them? She drank down the tepid coffee and looked at her watch. Ten minutes at the outside and she'd have to leave. "Have you been married?" she asked, mostly to fill the silence, partly out of a desire to cut to the chase, and wondering afterwards why she hadn't saidareyou married.

"Once. My wife died–"

"I'm sorry. Any children?"

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