Ethan and Emily…and Joel

I’ve introduced all the characters in Call Me Emily. Stay with me because there are more, really fun characters to read about in Emily Calls It. But that’s a later blog post.

For now, I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt. In the first book, Call Me Emily, Ethan, Emily’s brother feels a little guilty he hasn’t helped his sister get acquainted with southern California. Out of obligation, he invites her to the movies. The following passage gives you insight into Emily and Ethan’s relationship. It also gives you a glimpse of what’s to come between Emily and Joel.

***

I only knocked once before he opened the door.

“Hey,” he said backing away so I could pass.

“Wow, you’ve really done wonders with this place,” I said sarcastically, easing the door shut. His apartment was a mess. Clothes everywhere, empty macaroni and cheese boxes on the counter, and don’t even get me started on the piles of papers on every surface. I always found his furniture taste, or lack thereof, interesting. I guess.  If you could assemble it with an Allen wrench, it was in his apartment. Down to his kitchen table, a glass-topped patio table with a hole in the middle for an umbrella.

I stayed in the entry, afraid to make my way into this obvious black hole of disarray.

Ethan returned from the other room, tennis shoes in hand. He slipped one on and looked at me. “What’s with the look?” he asked.

“Look?”

“Yeah, your nose is all scrunched up. Does it smell in here or something?” He looked around.

“No, but the fact that you have to ask that speaks volumes,” I said further wrinkling.

He grabbed his keys and nodded toward the front door. “Let’s jam. We’re meeting Joel.”

Huh. I was surprised. I don’t know why, but I thought it was just a brother and sister night.

“Wait a second. You have something in your hair,” he pulled out an almost-dry, pencil-eraser-sized drip of yellow paint. “Oh, great,” I said.

“Yeah, you missed a spot,” he laughed and messed up my hair with his hand.

Sure enough, when we parked Joel waiting out in front of the movie theater.

“Hey Joel,” Ethan said as we approached. “I have these passes.” He tapped his front pocket. “Grab a spot in line with Emily and I’ll be right back.”

The line was forming fast as we joined it. I knew the movie was supposed to be good, but this seemed ridiculous. The line just kept going.

“What do you know about this movie,” I asked Joel.

“Nothin’ much. But it’s got that short guy from Top Gun in it.”

“Hey! Don’t be mean to Tom,” I said jabbing my elbow into his arm.

“Ouch! Fine,” he laughed.

I noticed an older couple in line behind us. Probably the age of my parents, but maybe older. Their smiles indicated they were listening to our conversation. She met my gaze.

“You two are so cute. You remind me of us when we were younger. How long have you been dating?” She swept her arm across her husband’s back.

Joel’s posture went rigid. “Oh, we’re, um friends.” I spit out.

“Well, isn’t that interesting,” she said with the same mischievous smile. Before I had a chance to continue our conversation, Ethan came back and picked up mid sentence.

“Wow that’s a long line.” He looked at the trail of people behind us. “I’m glad we got here when we did.”

Joel moved beside me to give Ethan room, and we stepped forward in line.

“So what did I miss?” Ethan asked.

Joel and I looked around, both not looking at each other. “Nothing,” I said as I shrugged my shoulders.

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Character Introduction #8: Mom

Emily’s mother is quite a woman. She juggles a full time job, three children and the singles scene. Granted, in the small town she lives the singles scene isn’t so much a scene as it is the occasional set-up by one of her married friends.  “You know Susan, my brother is recently divorced,” is something Susan would hear from time to time and cringe at the thought. “Great! The newly divorced are always so much fun,” she would say.

Emily’s mom is fun loving but strict; sweet but stern all at the same time. She trusts Emily to make the right decisions but eases her in the direction she thinks is best.

Now to address how I created Susan Parker. Let me first say that arriving at a name for this very influential character was difficult. I’ve gone through about four iterations finally settling on Susan. Like all of my character names, this one just felt right. Did I base her on anyone I know? What do you think? Not only does she embody some of the characteristics of my mother but I also drew from my friends mothers. When I was in middle and high school the sleep-overs were many. Almost every weekend one of my friends was at my house or I was at hers. I grew close to all of my friends mothers and learned to appreciate them individually. I watched as they influenced their daughters and I learned so much from them. It’s this combination that makes up Susan.

Below is an excerpt from the beginning of Call Me Emily. Emily arrives home after her first day at school to find a message from her mom. She’s determined to unwind in a bath but calls her mom back first.

The bathroom was tiny but had a nice tub, which was one of the features that made me decide on this particular apartment. I started the water and added some lavender bubble bath – a gift from my mom. Oh, Mom! I needed to call her back, too. I could call Jessica from the tub, but I had better call my mom first or I’d never hear the end of it. I let the water run, sat on the closed toilet seat and dialed Mom’s work number.

“This is Susan,” She answered on the second ring.

“Hey Mom, it’s me.”

“Hi honey.” She sounded happy.  “How was your first day?”

“Good, I picked up all my textbooks and got my student ID. Oh and I met a girl, a freshman like me, from out of state.”

“Really, that’s great. You made a friend sweetie.”

“Mom, knock it off! I’m not four years old.”

“I was just kidding,” she said. “So tell me about your day.”

“I met Allison while we were in line to get our photo IDs taken. She’s just as nervous as I am about starting school. Then we had lunch together after. It was fun.” I shifted to get more comfortable.

“Yeah? That’s great! Did you see Ethan?”

“We ran into him at the bookstore. He was picking up a few books himself.” I paused remembering running into him. “I called him to see if he wanted to get together this afternoon, but he wasn’t home.”

“Well, I’ll tell him …”

“No! Mom, don’t call him. We’re fine; he doesn’t have to spend every waking hour with me.”

“But you don’t know anyone there, Emily.”

“Yeah I do.  Remember my new friend Allison.” I laughed. And it really was OK. I knew my brother wouldn’t want to spend all his time with his little sister. It was true; I knew this, but still, I was a little lonely.

“Hey Mom, I’m going to get in the tub now. Thanks for checking on me; I’ll call you soon.”

“OK dear, be good.”

“I will. Love you.”

“Love you too. And don’t forget…phone home.”

She always said that to my brother. It must apply to me now, too. I hung up and turned off the tub water. It was just like I liked it: super deep and full of bubbles. The scent of lavender filled the room and seemed to float down the hall in clouds. I walked into the bedroom and kicked off my flip fops, pulled my tee-shirt over my head, and wiggled out of my jeans. Tossing my clothes on the bed, I turned on the little clock radio next to it and walked back to the bathroom. Yes I could hear it fine from here. Like I said, it was a pretty small place.

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