What You Wish For A Novel Online - Kerry Reichs

Dimple Wants a Change

I have a baby shower, sort of an afternoon/evening thing, so unfortunately I can’t get together Saturday night.

I looked at the clock and the calendar on my desk to verify the ordinariness of everything but the e-mail, making sure I hadn’t tumbled into a parallel dimension where men scrapbooked and women peed standing up. Nope. My new tampon box was on the counter where I’d tossed it.

It didn’t take a genius to figure this one out. A healthy adult male such as my, apparently former, boyfriend Tom choosing Gerber party games over sex with me was more than a scheduling conflict. Men did not do baby showers. If they did, it was a twenty-minute drive-by under duress, fleeing at the sight of miniature rattles on pink icing. They did not pass their Saturday evening rocking the all-day-all-night shower. I’d received a thinly disguised “Dear Dimple” letter.

Yes, Dimple. It’s a terrible nickname, but the alternative, Dimples, would be intolerable, leaving me with little choice but to become a birthday clown, forever making people indefinably uncomfortable. In fact, I owned a matched set of girlish dents, but from babyhood, I’d responded to most situations with a speculative half smile, lifting only one corner of my lips as if I wasn’t sure a thing merited full two-dimple approbation. Hence Dimple, singular.

My real name is Agnis. In a misguided fit of trying to repair a fractured relationship with her mother, my own named me after hers—Agnis Dýemma Bauskenieks. No one calls me that because it’s a dreadful name for a baby, a name that should only be applied from age fifty onward. Since I’m an actress, I’ll never become fifty. I’ll also never have the last name Bauskenieks. Everyone calls me Dimple Bledsoe.

I called my agent.

“Freya Fosse.” Herself barked into the phone.

“Demoted to answering your own phone?” I teased.

“Ugh. They’re having cookies for somebody’s something-or-other in the break room. I fled immediately but Brooke wanted to stay.” Brooke was Freya’s assistant. Freya was a petite, platinum Norwegian windstorm.

“I finally heard from Tom,” I said.

“And?”

I told her.

“A baby shower? Like, a hen party where a fetus is about to come out of a woman’s vagina and everyone coos over onesies and talks about breast milk?”

“Irrefutable, isn’t it?”

She sighed. “I’m sorry to say it but . . . incontrovertible comes to mind.” My mind’s eye saw Freya lay down her Mont Blanc and straighten her posture in her black Arne Jacobsen chair. “Dimple. Tom is a perfectly . . . respectable person, but . . .”

I was glad she didn’t go into ex-bashing. Tom was a perfectly nice person who didn’t deserve to be vilified for failing to have strong feelings for me.

“The important thing is . . .” It must have been a slow day at the office for Freya because this quantity of uninterrupted personal talk was unusual. We were usually on work-related topics by minute three.

“Besides . . .”

I fell into the comforting rhythm of her speech. Maybe it was weird that I called my agent about a breakup but it was either her or my hairdresser. In my line of work, an impermeable watershed separates us from “ordinary” people. Aspiring actresses should hang on to their high school pals, because once you get on the talking box, everyone secretly wants to ask you about the time you met Julia Roberts, no matter how cool they play it. We aren’t different, but tabloids triumph in catching actors Just Like Us. If they thought I was just like them, seeing me pump gas wouldn’t be noteworthy. Instead, my parking ticket is news.

“Besides . . .”

I took guilty pleasure in being coddled by Freya. The Just Like Us thing and the long hours isolate actors. To be fair, the immigrant in me wouldn’t be a hand-holding sharer if I had a legion of sympathetic ears. Pain was something I did behind closed doors. No matter how deeply you felt your personal tragedies, they didn’t count for more than a mosquito bite in the face of real suffering. Darfur. Tsunami. Holocaust. That was real. That was malaria. My little welts didn’t count.

“I’m confident . . .”

The truth was, Tom’s most attractive quality had been that he was age appropriate and wanted kids. I didn’t think I’d miss him. I was sorry the length of time between now and the possibility of having a baby multiplied exponentially. My biological age was outpacing the range I offered on my curriculum vitae, and while Wikipedia attributed me