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10.22.2002 - 8:59 a.m.

Tuesday

NaNoWriMo, Take One:

"If I have one more cup of coffee I'm going to kill someone." Maggie put down her empty mug, and flounced back into the couch.

"Fine. Start with Miss Low Rider over there." I said, nodding my head towards an ectomorph gushing into a miniscule cell phone, wearing jeans that showed every inch of her tanned midriff. "God, I hate her."

PMS City, USA. We'd agreed to meet at our favorite neighborhood coffeehouse to try and cheer each other up, but instead ended up brooding and overcaffeinated. Maggie's been my best friend since college, and she never fails to be on the same wavelength with me - good or bad.

"You know," Maggie drawled, winding a scarlet curl around her finger, "I used to be able to wear jeans like that. Remember?"

I did. Spitfire Maggie, with the flaming red hair and legs that wouldn't quit. Trailing a perpetual chaotic mess of half-finished essays and clouds of reeking Gauloise smoke, Maggie was sleek as a whippet when I first met her.

She's married now. Mellowed. More cushioned, less angular. Her personality is still as prickly as ever, though. Screw with Maggie, and you're likely to get the razor-sharp side of her tongue.

"Nobody should even design jeans like that," I said gloomily, stirring the dregs of my espresso. "Why would I want to wear something that shows half my ass if I bend over? Next thing you know they'll be selling butt crack ornaments."

"New from Tarina Tarantino," Maggie breathed huskily. "The derriere collection." We broke into peals of laughter, momentarily displacing our foul mood.

"Listen, I've got to run." Maggie stood up, brushing muffin crumbs from her black overcoat. "Deadlines, deadlines."

"No rest for the wicked. Call me this weekend." I rose and hugged her goodbye, then settled back into the raggedy couch we'd inhabited in the corner of Java Haus. We used to joke that we were just like Friends, with "our" couch - except, as Maggie put it, "not in quite the same demographic." A cold gust of air blew in as she swept out the door, and she waved to me Queen-Mum style.

The midriff-baring girl let out a brittle squeal at something her phone partner said, and I closed my eyes, rubbing my temples.

Suddenly, it all seemed so pointless. What was my character supposed to do next? Just sit there boorishly drinking endless cups of coffee, maybe contemplating suicide? Who was this Maggie person, and was it really necessary to say that her legs would not quit? The terms 'mawkish' and 'amateur night' come to mind. 48,226 more words about these people? Forget it, no way.

Take Two:

Maggie straddled the German Shepherd. She tossed her long blond locks, wet her lips, and stared bravely into the camera. This, she thought, was going to be the film that launched her career.

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