These are three excerpts from
Not A Second More, Not A Second Less
by J. J. Steinfeld.
from "Percival Gets a Phone Call"
(...) He told her she wasn't dying, that she could keep her Oscar, but she
insisted she was about to meet the Big Director in the sky. Her attempt
at gallows humour, Percival had thought. She shipped her Oscar to her son
and it took three days for it to arrive from Halifax, and by the time he
opened the package, his hands trembling, she was dead. (...)
* * *
from "Bookish Sex"
(...) I was a different person in those days, we all were. I'd never even
written as much as a verse of poetry back then. Still, the magazine story
needed its photographs and there we were, mug shots and all. But it wasn't
the story that completely exasperated me.
Books on sex, sex books, bookish sex, sexual words, word-luscious sexiness,
sex thoughts, sex words, sex-sexier-sexiestthat's what rings their
bells, starts them salivating, mixes my metaphors. I shouldn't act so indignant.
I'm an angry seventy-three-year-old woman. But I'm first and foremost a poet,
maybe a little long in the tooth poet, but I take my creativity seriouslyit's
what I am, central to my existence...(...)
* * *
from "Not a Second More, Not a Second Less"
(...) Not that long ago, he had neared death, glimpsed the emptiness, but
refused to reveal the inauspiciousness of it to anyone, not that he has many
conversations in the course of a week. On what appears to be a whim, he stops
a sad-looking couple, perhaps it is the burden of their packages, he thinks,
new wardrobe, head to foot, desparate fashion.
I will kill myself in precisely twenty minutes, not a second more, not a
second less, he tells them, his words lilting, and he runs away from the
proffered revelation, not turning to see if they drop their packages to pursue him (...)
Not A Second More, Not A Second Less excerpt ©2005 J. J. Steinfeld
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