There were so many good entries to the "revise this opening page" contest, but three tied for the most votes. It's only fair to toss it back for a final round of voting! Voting is open until 6am EST on Friday morning. I'll post the final winner shortly thereafter. If there's still no clear winner, I'll break the tie.
To vote for your favorite, just leave a comment with entry name or number. If the comments are being finicky (which they have been lately, apologies for that) you can either email me directly at janice (at) janicehardy (dot) com, or tweet me @Janice_Hardy.
And the finalists are...
Sara shivered as she jerked on the strap of her bag one more time. It was digging into her shoulder, but she couldn't possibly leave anything behind. She needed every single thing in there. No matter what anyone said, she would never believe she was any kind of hoarder. Those people were sick whereas she simply had a lot of needs.
At the moment, she needed to get home. Her cat needed to be fed, the dog needed to be let out, and that pile of papers needed to be dealt with. Who knew that selling her family home, the home where she grew up, would be so taxing. Perhaps she could call for help.
She was still thinking about it, thinking about calling the one person she knew could help her, when she got into her car. When she pulled into traffic, the horns honked and the tires skidded as people slammed on their breaks, but she heard none of it. She was driving slowly, cautiously, and they would simply have to wait.
Her hand hovered above the button on her steering wheel, but she pressed it before she could reconsider. "Call..." she faltered.
The last time she’d called Jessie, they’d fought. It was a stupid fight, but memories like that stuck around like something left in the trash too long without anyone bothering to take it out to the curb. Her finger hovered over the button again.
Sara trudged down the steps of the brownstone, holding the rail with one hand while wrestling a bulging tote into submission with the other. Cars honked and slalomed along the flooded street, coating sidewalks and passersby with an unspeakable icing. She wished, not for the first time, for an additional set of hands to cover her ears.
Four hands. My client list would double.
Sara grinned and briefly entertained the idea of returning to his apartment and waiting out the weather. But she had to get home.
Rabe waved from the attendant's booth as she headed for her car. A loud screech announced the opening of the fly specked service window.
"Hey babe, if you're sellin' I'm buyin'!"
Sara flipped him off with practiced ease and swung her bag forward to search for her keys. Half of a scarlet bra was dangling cheerfully from the hastily zippered front compartment. There was a time when she would have felt humiliated, but that was $100,000 ago. The Push Up Killer Extreme Size 36D sailed in an impeccable arc through the window and into Rabe's ample lap. He solemnly placed it on his head.
"Thanks honey. You be safe tonite. Hear me?"
A random note of kindness in the cacophony of life.
She gave him a thumbs up as she slung her bag in the back of the dented Buick, made sure that her left buttock was situated over the partially exposed seat spring (otherwise, she'd be a fascinating story at some gynecologist's cocktail party) and fastened her seatbelt. One deep breath stifled her sudden urge to cry. Another deep breath cleansed some of the anxiety from her mind. No time to indulge in histrionics, as her husband dearly loved to point out.
Time. She had to be home in time.
Snaking through the clogged expressway (a misnomer if there ever was one) gave her time to think. It wasn't humanly possible to cram everything that had to be done into the time allotted. She could round up a few people to help, the ones who still owed her favors, but that would create an additional set of problems. A defeated sigh morphed into a tremendous belch, promptly steaming up the windshield.
Jessie would die laughing. There was a thought.
She hit the call button on her steering wheel, the one high-end option that still worked. “Call…” She faltered. Did she really want to do this?
The last call to Jessie had ended in a vicious quarrel over a project they'd worked on together years ago. That seemed to be a hallmark of all close relationships; you nitpicked over some imagined slight, then proceeded to drag up and rehash every single thing that each of you had done to one other over a lifetime. Even if you apologized, it still came back to haunt you. The trash might be gone, but the smell seemed to linger forever.
Still, Jessie was the one person who might be equipped to deal with this particular clean-up job.
Her fingered hovered over the button.
Entry#3: Laura Rueckert
Blood pounded in Sara's ears, coursed through her veins, her heart pushing the bacterial sludge into every organ, every capillary. She hefted the bag of clinking vials over her shoulder and rushed from the research building. Well past midnight, no one was around but the security guards, and they weren't due for another three minutes.
Sara hustled across the sidewalk, gleaming wet in the November night. A horn honked from the main road, and the sound exploded in her ears. Upon reaching her car, she placed the bag on the passenger seat as if it were a delicate newborn. She fastened the seat belt around it. The cold air had revived her for a moment, but as soon as she shut her door, waves of nausea blew through her entire body, and she leaned back to catch her breath.
Time was running out. It had taken ten minutes to get from the restricted area to the parking lot. The drive home would be fifteen, assuming she could manage a reasonable speed with her head spinning like this. But getting home was only half the battle. The sludge was working far faster than she'd expected. She'd be so out of it by the time she made it to her apartment, someone else would have to give her the first dose of serum.
Her thumb hovered over the call button. Jessie was the only colleague not already locked up who knew about Serum 174C. He was also the only one to tell her she was an instable, perpetually PMSing bitch who deserved a jail cell like the rest of them.
She slammed her hands on the steering wheel. If she didn't call now, she'd never prove her team was innocent, and that the cure worked. Damn Jessie for making this so hard on all of them. Damn him. She stabbed the Call button and prayed he'd pick up.