The three hostesses nervously look at one another.
"This is a new one for us." Sharon stands and swishes the white cotton gown that was given to each of them as they presented themselves at the door of the Obsessive Compulsive Serenity Disorder Center. Lyn, Mary and Sharon, all sit down in the waiting room with several others dressed in the same comfortable flowing gown.
"The Author Roast and Toast representatives please, Evie Alexis is expecting us." draped, masked and gloved, the receptionist gestures to the main door. The chairs are covered with plastic that crackles when they get up.
When they enter there are bins from which they take their own gloves and masks before they don them. "I feel like the bubble boy." Mary wisecracks behind her mask.
"You look like the bubble boy." Lyn quips. Mary raps her in the arm and Sharon snaps her fingers.
"Behave now, don't embarrass me, please." She thumps them both in the head. "Ouch!" Dual cries follow the thumps.
The receptionist chuckles and gestures to follow
her. They pass several rooms where people are having massages from head to foot. Each Masseuse is gloved, gowned, and masked.
"This is cool! I want a massage, I've never had one. I want a foot work-over too." Mary comments.
"You could use that whole body makeover." Sharon laughs and Lyn gives her an elbow to quiet her as the walk through the massive archway at the end of the hall.
Inside guests are all attired as the hostesses. "There's Evie." Lyn points.
"It's so strange not to have to prepare a party. Evie made it so easy for us. Maybe we can get some help for our own obsessions. Like how you keep repeating things Sharon. Over and over you say the same thing. You gotta stop that."
Mary laughs and Lyn points out her problems. "Yeah, you and the late nite snacking, and that nail biting, just to name a few." Lyn shakes her head.
"Oh really," Mary cocks her head. "How about your andromania, bibliomania, clinomania, oenomania, tulipomania, planomia, just to mention a few of your problems."
"Shut up." Lyn sticks her lower lip out and starts to sulk.
She doesn't have much time. When they reach Evie she raises from the pillows she rests on and touches gloved fist to each of the hostesses and gestures they sit around her. They huff and puff till they are settled comfortably. There is no alcohol here. Each of them pick up a cup of sparkling water from the plastic covered tray that is offered to them. In the corner is a table tastefully decorated with single gardenias floating in small round bowls. Several bowls of salads and sliced pound cake are all ready in single portions. Plastic forks and spoons are sterile and wrapped individually.
In the background instrumental Zen music relaxes everyone in the large room. No one shares food, shakes hands, or touches. Little door prizes of hand sanitizer and copies of the novel, 'Knowing The Real You', wait for party favors.
Several people are practicing yoga and Tai-Chi. Others are speaking in low voices and enjoying the aroma therapy.
"Thank you for coming." Evie's eyes smile over the top of her face mask. "I suggest you all take the yoga class to relax you."
"Thanks Evie, we are so glad to be here."Sharon goes to touch her shoulder and Evie waves her index finger indicating that's a no-no.
"It's all right Sharon, that's why a lot of us are here."
Sharon sips at her water and sits back.
"Today you are here at my invitation. I'd like you to work on your obsessions. Relax and enjoy." Evie gestures to the therapists helping people around the room.
"Thanks Evie we will. but first tell us all about your books," Mary asks. The girls sit all ears, gloves and masks.
"We are here to learn about you and your whimsical stories." Sharon, zips her mouth. She has a hard time being quiet.
Lyn, pulls her gloves up and sets back.
Mary, wishes she had a nice big piece of chocolate...Sharon nudges Mary. "Pay attention dear. Our guest-host is here for the day!
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE AND PUBLISHED
I savor the early silence and glance at the previous day's newspaper Elliot left on the table the night before, straining to read the headlines from their upside down position. It would be easier to reach over and grab the paper, but I can't. The feel of newspaper has always bothered myfingers and mind; the thought of the ink on my fingertips makes me cringe. Thank goodness for multimedia such as Internet and television, helping me keep up with current events—when I can deal with them.
The sensation of a hand rubbing the top of my head awakens me from my inner musings. Elliot's grouchiness dissipates. I glance up at him and take pity, viewing those bulging bags under his eyes. He looks like he could use a few more hours of sleep.“I'm sorry I woke you,” I apologize.
He takes a sip of his coffee and sets the ceramic mug down on the small table. “Don‟t worry about it,” he mumbles with a yawn. “I needed to get up anyway. It's crunch time at the job. The earlier I get into the office today, the better.” He reaches for the bagel in my hand and pulls it near his mouth, taking a bite of my meal. And just like that, my hunger subsides. With a sigh, I place the bread on the plate, pushing it away.
Now it's Elliot's turn to offer an apology. “I‟m sorry, hon. You want me to toast you another one?”
I shake my head. “It's okay. I'll pack a big lunch.”
“Good luck with your class today.”
Flashing an appreciative smile, I respond. “Thanks. It's been a few years since I've been in a classroom, but I'm feeling good about this. It'll be nice to meet my professor. Her name sounds really interesting, Trist Anne Blake.”
Professor Blake emailed me last week. A pleasant message, she attached a copy of the syllabus and the reading assignments. She certainly doesn't waste any time. Thinking about her name makes me think of poor Pablo, who's ready to lose his alias.
“Do you want a ride?” Elliot offers, settling in the seat across from me.
'“No. The class isn't `til nine anyway, and that'll just delay you. I‟m fine with taking the bus. I‟ll remember totake my meds, and….” I stand and walk over to my room where I return with my brand new pair of orange cashmere-lined leather gloves.
Elliot lifts his brow. “Erika, it‟s going to be eighty-five degrees today.”
“Yes, but the bus is air conditioned.” As he continues to give me that bemused look, I add, “I might not need them. It's just in case. Remember your boy scout‟s motto.”
Elliot shakes his head. “We need to get you driving. End of matter.”
I toss the leather gloves aside, turning my head as I make a face. Yeah, right. Get me to drive! That'll be the day. I can picture it now. Elliot, foolishly entrusting me to a vehicle allows me to drive to work, but I never make it. Instead, I derail the vehicle into a building. Elliot discovers the incident as he turns to the evening news. John Seigler and Mary Anne Hartright, our local news anchors, provide live team coverage of the event.
Breaking news. An employee of CE&G, freelance magazine writer and amateur novelist crashes her significant other's vehicle into the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. While the driver maintains it was purely accidental, authorities suspect she may have had motive. Detectives are investigating whether or not her actions were done in retaliation for her lack of success in publishing her novel, The Count's Glorious Legacy. It has also been confirmed the driver has a long history of mental illness. At this time no arrests have been made. More details as story develops.
“Yeah, sure. When I publish a story then I‟ll learn how to drive.” I shrug my shoulders as I state my cynical response. Since the former seems impossible, the latter follows suit. It‟s like when parents say, “When chickens have lips” or, “When pigs fly,” after a kid asks for something far-fetched.
Elliot doesn't comment, and I know he doesn't want to incriminate himself by saying something dumb like, “Now,Erika, that could take a really long time,” which really means, “That'll never happen.” The smarter of the two of us, my boyfriend leaves the room to take his shower. Peace reigns again until I hear him curse and cry out from thebathroom:
“The water's cold!”
Evie Alexis is a writer who describes her work as "romantic humor". Obsessive Compulsive and Published! is the second book of her Obsessive-Compulsive series. The first is The Obsessive-Compulsive Romance Novelist. She is currently working on the "three-quel". Her YA multicultural novel has been accepted for publication and is currently pending release. Evie is a wife, mother of two, career woman and grad student. Life is definitely keeping her on her toes, and she thanks God for all the opportunities afforded her.
Visit her website: http://www.eviealexis.com/home