When boomer write about boomers, we like it. That’s what Rita Plush has just done in her first book, “Lily Steps Out.” Here’s an excerpt from the story, about a 55-year-old woman who has had it with making beds and cooking dinners and decides to step out of her comfortable life and look for a job.
Sex, Lily thinks, next to Leon in their bed, everything is better after sex— even her thighs are a little thinner— but for how long? The afterglow will fade soon, and then it will be business as usual for them… one with a scar down his chest, one with the cellulite dimpling her thighs. Suburban married housewife married thirty-three years, and what has she got to show for it? Making beds and fixing breakfast.
Resting on her side, she watches the filmy curtains. They ripple, they dance. Puffed up, they rise off the carpet and balloon into the room, until without warning, the earth’s great breath sucks them flat against the window screen. Again they fill with air, flutter still and stay that way. The breeze has gone, turned on its heel. In search of another dancing partner? She puts an ear to Leon’s chest.
“I’m alive,” he assures, and throws an arm around her. His fingers play her bare arm. “That was dynamite.”
“Ummm.” She presses into him, and in the early morning silence of their room, she thinks what would she do if he had died? A sudden panic seizes her. Suppose he was in danger again? To safeguard his body from imagined assault, she gets on top of him. Chest to chest, legs to legs, she kisses his face and neck. That’s how she is with him, with the warm beat of his body under hers, desperate to keep him safe. As if he feels what she feels, thinks what she is thinking, he murmurs, “What would I do without you?”
Him do without her? Is he kidding? She rolls off, sits up. “You? Women will take numbers just for the chance to make you a fat-free meal. It’s me who’d have the problem. Some eighty year-old looking for a nurse, that’s who I’d get.”
“One hell of a nurse. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.”
He’s right. She was the one last spring, while Leon was driving and suddenly gasped, grabbing at his chest. She, who leaned over his slumped body and fumbled with the wheel… swerving, accelerating, slamming the brake, blaring the horn. Let me through! Let me through! And begging Leon, “Please don’t die,” all the way to Emergency.
But outside of that, what has she done? Outside of all the work of wife and mother, what has she accomplished? She has a brain; why isn’t she using it?
She fends off his hand reaching for her breast. “No.” She swings off the bed and goes to her bureau drawers.
He sits up. “One minute you’re screwing like there’s no tomorrow, and now it’s no? What about breakfast then?”
He wants a trade-off. No feel? Then feed me. But Lily isn’t in a bartering mood. “You fix it today. I bought Egg Beaters; you can make a nice omelet.”
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