coinage

Anabel lived off of her memories, polished smooth with time and repetition. At dinner parties, an occasional column in a Quarterly published upstate, on street corners, and in bars, she'd relive a moment of her life for a drink, a meal, an introduction to someone who'd hire her for a week, or two. She found herself speaking to small church groups, and on the evening news, and to the people who came to cocktail parties looking for that sparkling conversation they could carry away to work the next day.

She could quote extensively from Dorothy Parker, Shakespeare, the Bible, and Charles Darwin, but rarely did; long ago, she had found that served to make her more ordinary, and her charisma rose out of every difference she could subtly cultivate. The subtle things made her exotic, and in demand; those small differences set her apart.

Her latest trick was to finger the forks she ate with, twice rolling them back and forth between her fingers, as if she were listening to the burr of a Scot enjoying his wine. The fork looked delicate between her fingers, gleaming slightly as it turned. She found it mesmerized the slighter men, and disarmed the older women. It drew attention to her wrists, set in a delicate curve.

Tonight, she was wearing her mother's scarf, red, with six small sequins embroidered at the end, "just enough to delight perfectly, without being fast, darling,." her mother had explained to a six year old Anabel. Anabel would repeat these words tonight, placing one hand delicately on the forearm of the man, and looking into his eyes, utter the word "fast" in a smokey southern accent. It would be enough, for everyone knew Missouri McClain's story and that accent.

A moment later, she'd catch his smile, and grin back, delightedly, and talk about Einstein, and before he'd know it, they'd be discussing music and ... she caught sight of herself in the window, as she was passing. She felt old. When did she start choreographing these evenings? Maybe she'd call Pamela, and beg off, reminding her of that incident in the boat to give Pamela something to spike a conversation with.

After all, she was flush these days - she had placed her story about the young man in the park in a new anthology of non-fiction, and had reluctantly retired the story for the security of rent for 4 months and a long-desired trip to Prague. She was meeting an old friend for drinks at the most popular bar downtown tomorrow night, and had been very successful the previous evening at a large charity gala. She didn't need tonight.

This Vignette was inspired by the following phrase: "Women can get by on their wit alone." My version is not what the speaker meant - at all.