Thursday, April 7, 2011

Against Her Fading Hour - Isaac Sweeney

Three heart-wrenching short stories.

In "Handi-Cure," Elisa is a widow looking for acceptance in the world. She tries to find it in men but, after an unusual experience in a nail salon, she makes personal changes.

“Urine Trouble Now” is about a young couple and their overly anxious cat. The cat pees on the floor, which brings up details about the couple's relationship.

In “Lemonade Nights,” after Marco's father dies, he burns down the backyard shed in a fit of rage. Feeling guilty, he decides to rebuild the shed. His wife, Emma, likes having a husband who is good with his hands, but soon feels lonely as Marco spends more and more time on his project.

What will readers like about your book?
It's a fast read and it's thought-provoking. The stories are all from women's perspectives, and they deal with the usual things women deal with, as far as I know: loss, love and, of course, men.

What is your writing process?
I draft and revise, revise, revise.

What inspired you to write these particular stories?
These stories were written as my attempts to understand women in certain situations. Some of the situations are inspired by real events; some are made-up situations. But they are real characters, reacting in real ways, though their situations may be a little strange.

 "Urine Trouble Now"
The cat won’t stop peeing everywhere. We have two litterboxes, but the cat just uses the damn floor.
And all my husband can do is tell me it will be alright. That’s what he always says when I’m crying. How does he know everything will be alright?
The damn smell. I’m two rooms away from the litterbox and I can smell cat urine. It’s a strong smell, bitter and distinct, that doesn’t go away. We tore up carpet and put down hardwood. We’ve replaced this sofa I’m sitting on twice because of cat pee.
It’s costing us a fortune.
“It’ll be okay,” he says. The damn smell. His arm is around me now. Of course I push him away. I can’t stand when he gets like this. He thinks he can fix everything by giving me a hug and telling me things will be better.
When will things be better? We’re nearly 30 and we still live paycheck to paycheck. He doesn’t know what he wants to do. He’s a writer, but he doesn’t know what he wants to do for money. I hardly ever see him write anymore.
I’ve been working steady for five years. In that time, he’s had three career changes and gone back to school twice.
“We’re supposed to struggle now, while we’re young,” he tells me. “This is when things should be hard.”
I’m sick of struggling; I can’t live like this.
The damn smell. It’s getting in my nose, my eyes, my mouth. It’s choking me. The smell is invading me, crawling down my chest, rolling across the lining of my stomach, wrapping around my sides, my back. Pulling. Tightening.
I’m falling into this sofa. I can’t help but lie on my side and cry more.
It’s not a pretty, petite cry; I’m not a pretty, petite girl. It’s one of those loud, heaving weeps.
He’s sitting at my feet with his hand on my calf. I’ve told him four times now not to touch me. If he only knew this feeling. He can live with the smell, he’s told me. He’s able to brush everything off. I wish he cared more about the way we live. He doesn’t. He doesn’t care. He just goes through every day as if there are no problems.
I’m sinking into the sofa. The damn smell has overpowered all other smells in the world. I can feel the stench, the weight.
There’s the cat, peeking at me from the hallway. I know she doesn’t realize what she’s doing. Still, I hate her.
My husband has left me alone. He has gone to bed mad. He said something about me always pushing him away, and about how things will be fine someday.


The cat is on my lap, purring. She’s apologizing, I hope. It’s sweet, these things she does.
Still, I hate her.
The news is on TV. The anchors keep messing up, stuttering and saying the wrong things. Damn channel. Amateurs.
He’s asleep. I can hear him snoring. Sometimes, he wakes me up when he snores. Sometimes, he wakes me up when he wraps his hand around my waist while he’s asleep. I like that. I don’t like the snoring so much.
The cat is asleep. She’s not purring anymore, but has this deep, rhythmic breathing.
I’ve settled down a little. It usually just takes time. I wish he would understand that. I just get so worked up and he wants to touch me and hold me and tell me it’ll be alright.
I’m tired. He’s stopped snoring. For now. I’m staying on the couch.
The cat’s quiet, deep breaths are soothing. I close my eyes and imagine it’s not the cat on my lap, but my husband’s hand.
And it’s warm. And we sleep.
And he dreams, quiet and deep.

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