SMALL ACTS OF SEX AND ELECTRICITY
Beauty and privilege, a charming, handsome husband and two promising young daughters, money, a beach house on the Pacific—Jane has everything that Mattie thinks she wants. But Jane always works to damage what she’s given. Mattie knows that better than anyone.
But even she is caught off-guard when Jane leaves her whole life behind one broken morning before dawn. And it will take Mattie awhile to see that, by driving away, Jane has forced open the questions that have always hung in the air between them—the ones that are hardest to answer—questions about desire and envy and integrity. These are the issues of the heart that reveal themselves, not through the bold and dramatic gestures of a woman like Jane, but in even the briefest moments and the smallest of acts.
With the same rich language and keen, compassionate eye that earned acclaim for her first novel, Lise Haines delves here into the forces that memory and touch raise in our lives and our most private hungers.
$14.95 | Fiction Paperback | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | 245 pages
When Jane left Mike, she took her grandmother’s Jaguar. A coffee-brown machine with a mocha interior and custom tortoiseshell trim along the dash and armrests. It was built in 1965 and I had spent summers from the time I was eight sticking to its leather seats, flipping the ashtray covers open and shut with Jane. Her grandmother, Franny, ground forty years of Chanel No. 5 into the ball of the stick shift. She was big on original ownership. But now Franny was dead and her family still hadn’t decided what they’d do with the car.
Jane had come down to the kitchen at four that morning. I was up because I never slept at Franny’s house. But Jane typically woke in the afternoon when she drank hard. So I didn’t understand why she was standing there, fully dressed, as if she wanted to get an early start.
She had that rehashed Audrey Hepburn look: blue summer shift, white sweater tied at the neck, sandals fastened with leather straps. She filled the pot and scooped level measures of coffee into the machine, sat down at the table across from me. She looked as if she were going to say something, stopped, then told me Mike and the girls were still asleep, as if I needed reassurance about this. I listened to the Pacific as it hit the pilings, and I looked at Jane’s lipstick, not sure why she’d bothered. Her eyelashes would have disappeared if it weren’t for the mascara.
—You do something to your hair? I asked.
It appeared to be hacked at, not cut. I didn’t think it had been like that earlier in
I began to glide the salt and pepper shakers across the table, waiting for her to continue. Figure eights, in and out of the light from the overhead spot. Jane had once been offered a job as an eye model with a good New York agency. You could magnify those eyes until you were looking down at Earth. They were that blue. It’s a bad form of envy to want someone else’s face. I tipped my head to one side to get the full effect of her butchered hair.
—You use Mona’s scissors?
She stopped the movement of the salt but couldn’t quite reach the hand with the pepper.
—In a fair world you’d have kids, Mattie.
Her daughters were asleep in the clock room. Mona was four then, Livvy fourteen.
—I’m too tired for the fair-world conversation, I said.