Today finds Marshall preparing for his sister’s visit in more ways than one. The conversation with Catrin was especially challenging to write. It’s one of those scenes that I eventually had to just write even though I know I’m not satisfied with it.

 

Marshall Cooper

Day 18 – 31,573/50,000 words

Marshall sat there for another twenty minutes, just enjoying being outside of his apartment. He looked up weight gain powders on his phone, and then decided to head to the CVS where he could just pick some up. It was about a half a mile walk to the CVS, and it was a good test of his ankle which seemed to be pain free, although still just a little tight. He promised himself he would ice it down when he got home. The CVS had several options. He opted for something called Naked Mass Builder, which had no artificial flavors or colors. Taste was of absolutely no concern to him anyway and he figured it was healthier to go that route. He picked up a Blender Bottle to go with it. While he was there, he also bought a copy of Men’s Health magazine. He had no real intention of reading it, but he figured it would look good for that to be displayed somewhere in easy view.

Once he got home, he fired up his computer for the first time in weeks and got on Amazon.com. He bought a set of plates and glasses. He also ordered a set of pots and pans, a new set of sheets for his bed and a new set of towels for his bathroom. He considered picking up a couple of Van Gogh prints to put on his wall, but decided instead that he would hit one of the local galleries. He told Siri to remind him to do that the next morning.

The weight gain powder mixed up with his water relatively easily. He drank it as quickly as possible, and told Siri to remind him in two hours to do it again. He was a little annoyed that he had to do these things just to avoid being hassled, but he pushed that out of his brain. There was no point on swelling on the negative. New sheets and towels were not an unpleasant thing to have, even if they were unnecessary. He realized that to have the life he wanted, he needed to project some success.

Marshall looked at the rolling bar cart in the corner and tried to decide what to do with it. He came to the conclusion that the easiest thing to do was put the liquor in a cabinet no it wasn’t so prominent. Without the liquor, the cart was just a cart. He could put his books on it.  He set to work doing that. He also spent some time cleaning up. Even though he still had a week and a half, he decided that it was best to get his habits set now. He didn’t want to spend that last day in a scramble.

He spent most of the rest of that day cleaning the apartment. It wasn’t terribly big or really very dirty, but he spent time scrubbing clean his stove, his microwave, and his bathroom. He had to work extra hard because he had little by way of actual cleaning supplies. The scent of ammonia or other strong cleansers was a trigger for his headaches, so he made due with just a sponge and a bit of dish soap. Once he was satisfied, and sufficiently tired, he got in bed. Happily, he noted that he had gotten through the entire day without a headache. He worried that he was tempting fate by even thinking about it, but he still allowed himself a little hope that they would decrease once again. Within five minutes of getting in bed, he fell asleep. That night, he slept peacefully and deeply, Fate, if tempted, held back this time.

Catlin and Marshall went to the Chili’s for lunch the next day. Marshall was already full, having drank two of the weight-gain drinks that morning, but he forced himself to eat the Southern Smokehouse Burger with Ancho Chile BBQ because of its legendarily high calorie count. He also ordered a chocolate milkshake to go with it, doing his best to put his sister’s gift cart to good use. Catlin, sill a bit wary of food, just ordered French fries and an iced tea. Marshall told her about his sister’s coming visit, trying to convey a sense of dread.

“The rooms at the Hyatt are nice,” Catlin said, “Let’s just hope they don’t get any food.”

“Actually,” Marshall said, “it turned out they did use an outside caterer. It wasn’t the Hyatt’s fault.” The local news had reported on the food poisoning for several days. Apparently, over two dozen people came down ill, and because most of them had more than their share of wealth and power, they made quite a stink. Most of the talk in the papers was that this had torpedoed Guerrero’s chances at election.

Catrin shrugged. “Either way, I’m not eating there any time soon. Every time I think about it, I get a little sick. I’m sorry I talked you into going. You paid a lot of money just to get sick.”

Marshall thought about it for a moment. “It was an interesting night,” he said finally. “It may not have ended well, but there were some good moments.”

“That guy Jacob keeps calling me,” Catrin said. “He wants to take me out on his boat.” Catrin said, making judicious use of air quotes.

“He is a bit of a letch,” Marshall said. “He seems like a decent guy underneath it though. I liked some of his ideas.”

Catrin seemed to think about this. She took a long drink of her iced tea. “Maybe I’ll go then,” she said finally/ “It might be fun.”

“I didn’t say you should go,” Marshall said. “I just said he’s probably not a bad guy.”

Catrin was quiet for a while longer. They both took uninterested bites of their food. “Do you care?” Catrin said. “Would it matter to you?”

“Yes,” Marshall said. “I care. Of course I care.”

“Then quit pushing him on me,” Catrin said. “Just stop with that.”

Marshall tried to think of a way to put his thoughts into words. Everything in his head sounded stupid. He wanted her. He knew that he did, but a part of him just wanted to push her away. It seemed like he was putting her at unnecessary risk or at least giving her a burden that would eventually find very cumbersome. He refused to let the opportunity evaporate though. Instead, decided to say something, even if it came out badly. “I want you to be my girlfriend,” he said.

Catrin smiled. “Ok then. Let’s do that.”

Marshall felt a shift inside of him, as if one weight had been lifted, but another had come right on its heels to replace it.

 

Chapter 7

His sister wanted to come to his apartment straight off, but Marshall arranged to meet the family at the Hyatt, once they had gotten checked in. Catrin drove him to the hotel. For several minutes, they sat in the parking lot holding hands while he psyched himself up to see his family again. Finally, they got out of the car and walked hand-in-hand up to the hotel and took the elevator to the top floor. They kissed once before knocking on the door to the suite.

Charlie, his sister’s husband, opened the door and they came in. Marshall’s sister Anne was on the balcony. The kids were nowhere to be seen, having quickly headed out to the beach. “Sorry” Anne said, “I was just looking at the view. This place is even prettier than I remember.” Marshall introduced Catrin to them. Anne was gracious, and complimented Catrin on her blouse.

The suite was large, with multiple bedrooms, a living room, a wet bar and a wide table capable of seating six. The TV was relatively unimpressive, for a room of that level, just a normal flat screen that was probably about 32 inches. Marshall could imagine the kid’s disappointment at seeing this. They had a 60 inch TV in their home. The TV was on, tuned to the Bloomberg channel, where a talking head was going over the day’s closing bell report. .

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