Firsts

First sentences or first paragraphs should be intriguing and engaging.  They should create anticipation and a reason to keep reading.Here are  first paragraphs from a few stories in my new short story collection, The Last Generation of Women Who Cook. I hope these paragraphs do their job.

“The Casserole”

Hot sausage could spice up almost anything, her mother often had said as Carole was growing up.  And Carole remembered this most clearly the first time that Gary had come for dinner.  But after he helped her clear the table, and put away the dishes, and then get comfortable on the daybed in her apartment, she recalled that by then, the heat had nothing to do with the food.

“Rice, Wild Rice”

Geoff’s mother thought that it was because of exposure to the lawn chemicals she had so zealously ordered each year at his father’s request.  His sister thought it was because he’d been a nerd and a geek all his life anyway.  His friends thought it was because at his advanced age of twenty-eight, most of the gray cells were alcohol-laden and atrophied well before their time.  Mindy thought it was because she knew him too well and he couldn’t accept that.  It was either that or something else that made him leave her standing at the altar.

“Gazpacho”

Their long awaited weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival started happily.  No magic, but Justine thought that after being together for two years, this is what it must be like to settle down, to be married.  Back home in Buffalo, they shared their mutual passion for movies in comfortable silence on the couch.  There were occasional phone calls at work to discuss household matters that had gone unmentioned the previous evening.  And sex when they weren’t too tired, physically or emotionally. She, leaning on the kitchen counter, would chatter about her day, and Paul would listen, as he took charge of dinner, giving her direction about what she could do to help.  Preparing meals was the thing that always made her feel the most connected to Paul, that they were in sync.  In the kitchen, they moved around each other with ease, never even brushing elbows unless one of them wanted to get the other’s attention, just like that scene close to the happy ending in “Working Girl,” where Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith are in the world’s smallest kitchen, sharing the same piece of toast and drinking coffee as they pack each other’s lunches with an intimacy that only could come from having survived chaos together.

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