The Modern Coquette

September 08, 2012

I've been doing a lot of web re-design lately and haven't been able to muster the desire to write. Rather than tackle Flowers When You're Dead while in such a funk, I decided to fuse several ideas I've had -- to write a modern version of The Coquette, to have a character named Nancy Pregg, and to write a story involving the idea of "Secret Time" - into one story. I'm not sure what this thing is going to become (short story, novella, or novel), but hey - at least I'm writing again. Note that this is unedited. (I'll get to it someday. Again, I'm just glad I managed to write something!)

Bella Donna took a sip of her coffee as she stared out at the streets of New York through the cafĂ©’s grimy window. The water, too hotly boiled for normal consumption, scalded her lips. She flinched and set down her drink.  Of course, the singeing of her taste buds was the least of her concerns. Instead, she scrolled through her cell phone, re-reading the texts her paramour, Howard, had sent throughout the course of the day with damning fascination.
It was a decision she had to make alone. After all, how could she confide in her friends? They all knew Jeff. They were all friends. Their loyalties would be split. No, she couldn’t possibly tell her friends that she was having relations with a man other than sweet, vapid Jeff. Jeff, the man she’d been encouraged to fancy since graduating college. He made a good living, her parents loved him. Life was comfortable.
But that was the problem - Bella Donna didn’t thrive on comfort. Rather, she thrived on the better things in life; the excitement that only deception and the thrill thereof could bring. First of all, Howard was British. That alone put him leagues about Jeff. He was also a freelance photographer, which lent itself well to inciting other thrill-bringing events that pushed their relationship from friendship to affair status. That’s how they’d met - through his photography. She wanted a purse. Jeff refused to buy it for her, arguing she had two like it already and that, jokingly, he felt used. Bella Donna told him she'd do a modeling gig and pay for the purse herself. They both knew there was truth behind his words, but neither would directly acknowledge it. Bella Donna was Jeff’s hot trophy wife; he was her cash cow. The system had worked for years, but now, Bella Donna wasn’t so sure how much longer it would last. 
She’d cheated before. Five times, in fact. Jeff knew about one of them, but he was in the middle of some big financial deal and was too busy to talk about getting a divorce. He forgave her, and that was that. The affair didn’t stop him from bringing up the subject of children, something that Bella Donna always deflected. We have forever to have children. I want to live a little. Jeff didn’t like that, but he put up with it. That’s what she liked about him. He was a rock in the brayed beach of her life.
Unlike with her other affairs, Bella Donna had actually entertained the notion of leaving Jeff for Howard. Maybe she loved him. She wasn’t sure if she knew what love was; or, at least in terms of loving a man. The only person she had ever loved was herself. She had no qualms with admitting that. But there was something about Howard; so alluring and sexy that made her second-guess her marriage more than she felt comfortable admitting to herself. Maybe she was growing up seven years too late.
Bella Donna sat in the coffee shop for a while longer. To a stranger, she appeared to be thinking about something life-changing; but in reality, her thoughts had already moved on to the purse she carried and how she wished she had bought it in red.
Bella Donna would be the first to contract the virus.

Nancy Pregg sat patiently at the daycare center. A copy of Tess of the D’Urbervilles was spread across her lap. It was an admittedly dreadful book; one that perpetuated tragedy at a unfathomable level. It was one of many on a long list of novels some website had deemed must-reads. She’d gotten through them all - even Catcher in the Rye, for God’s sake - but could hardly bring herself to pick up this one. She’d written it on the day’s to-do list, however, making it a mandatory part of her routine to complete. For Nancy Pregg, life was a checklist. It was the only way she could justify waking up each morning and starting the whole ordeal all over again.
Nancy Pregg wanted nothing more than to have a child. Unfortunately, the good Lord above didn’t share her beliefs on the matter, and has thus rendered her infertile. It was a fact that plagued her, strangled her, and brought her to her knees in every waking moment. She took anti-depressents, but all the dopamine in the world couldn’t erase the fact that she would never have a child of her own. 

[To give context: Nancy is waiting at the day-care center for her sister's son.]


  1. Kat, this is beautiful! Love your writing! Thanks for sharing:)


    I nominated you for a Reader Appreciation award. ♥


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