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       Book Bites: The Wrong Girl, p.1

           Uvi Poznansky
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Book Bites: The Wrong Girl

  Book Bites

  The Wrong Girl

  Samples from

  Still Life with Memories

  Uvi Poznansky

  The Wrong Girl offers samples from books in the Still Life with Memories series. These samples give a taste not of Natasha (the girl Lenny loves) but rather of another woman, Lana, who appears time and again, in several scenes in the books. She is flirtatious enough to stir suspicion, upsetting the course of his life time and again.

  I hope you will find these samples not only delicious but also arousing an irresistible craving for more.

  So, you ask, what is this series all about?

  For a long time I had this idea of creating a series around the events in the life of a unique family. The characters had to have not only a compelling voice, but they had to see things in an entirely different light, which would create contrasts and conflicts, as each one of them comes from a different background and has different passions, needs, and aspirations.

  Where can you get the books in this series?

  #I: My Own Voice

  #II: The White Piano

  #III: The Music of Us

  #IV: Dancing with Air


  Subscribe to Uvi’s Newsletter to get the latest news about her writing and art


  A Sparkly Black Evening Dress with a Slit

  The Wind that Wrapped Us in a Chill

  Leonard And Lana

  Just Don’t Lie to Me

  Like a Star on the Silver Screen

  It Was Nothing but a Scribble

  One of My Early Stories

  About the Author

  A Note to the Reader

  Books by Uviart

  Children’s Books by Uviart

  The Wrong Girl ©2016 Uvi Poznansky

  A Sparkly Black Evening Dress with a Slit

  Sample from

  The Music of Us

  As told by Lenny, 1942

  “This place is amazing,” said a soft, sultry voice in a slight Russian accent. “It’s abuzz with excitement!”

  I looked up. A young woman swung around in my direction, wearing full-length satin gloves that extended up above the elbows, a sparkly black evening dress with a slit on the side, and a necklace that dipped into her cleavage. Her hair swayed around her, shiny and bleached blond, as she gave a little nod to me. With a little sigh, she lowered herself into the empty seat.

  “No, this must be a mistake,” I said.

  “What is?”

  “This seat is taken.”

  “Is it?”

  “It is.”

  She checked her ticket. “Oh yes, you’re right. My seat is on the other side of you.”

  She stepped around my knees on her way to that seat. I looked the other way, but felt her staring at me.

  “You look familiar,” she said.

  I shrugged, not knowing how to respond, or if this was some ploy to draw my attention to her. Meanwhile, someone in the row behind us tapped her shoulder, trying to hint that she should stop it, and no more chitchat, because the sounds of musicians tuning their instruments was already heard behind the scenes.

  She licked her red lips and offered a gloved hand in a gesture that confused me. What are the proper manners here? Should I shake it or kiss it?

  “My name,” she said, “is Lana.”

  “Lenny,” said I.

  “Oh!” She touched a gloved finger to her forehead, and a sudden glint of recognition shot from the corner of her eye. “What a surprise! What a small world! Now I know who you are!”

  “You do?”

  “You’re a marine, aren’t you?”

  “I am—”

  “You’re Ryan’s friend, right?”

  “You know Ryan?”

  “I do! I’m his girlfriend, you must have heard about me, no? Anyway I got a letter from him, just the other day, with picture of both of you, looking so, so striking in uniform. You were standing there with those English girls all around you, in front of the embassy in London. Don’t tell him I said this,” she hissed in my ear, “because if you do I’ll deny it, but you’re even more handsome in person, especially in this fine suit, if you don’t mind me saying so—”

  “But I do!” said the man from behind.

  And another one said, “Shush!”

  She shrugged him off with a pretty smile, confident that no one can resist her charms, but she did lower her voice, just a bit.

  “Talk about a coincidence,” she said, crossing her legs and shifting position to cuddle up to me, as if she were my babe.

  I left her question unanswered, because the house lights started dimming. To the sound of applause, which mixed with the sound of wind instruments from the orchestra pit, an announcer stepped out from behind the curtain and headed to the front edge of the stage.

  Meanwhile, “Why are you here?” Lana went on to ask. “Is everyone coming home? I mean, has the war ended?”

  There was a gasp from behind.

  I said nothing to her, because nothing is something at which I am the best at saying, and because this was not the time to say a thing, especially not to someone who was so oblivious to what was going on in the world.

  It maddened me to think that my friends were risking life and limb on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and that civilian casualties were mounting all over Europe, only to be utterly ignored by the likes of this woman, whose only thought was finding someone, anyone to amuse her.

  By now, the announcer came to a stand directly in front of us. “Tonight,” he said, “we’re proud to present a brilliant pianist whose lyrical sensitivity has been honed by acclaimed performances, in every concert hall all over the country, from Los Angeles to Boston.”

  I felt ignorant for not checking the program ahead of time, because of doubting that I would find myself in this place. I had no idea of what music to expect, nor did I know the names of the performers. Now my heart quickened with a sense of anticipation, which was as remarkable as the boredom that registered on Lana’s face. I was surprised to see her subduing a yawn.

  Meanwhile, the announcer went on. “If you haven’t heard the name up to now,” he said, “you’ve been missing out. Quite simply, this performer is known for an amazing virtuosity. One thing I can promise you: after tonight, you’ll never forget her!”

  Then he stepped back and cast a glance over his shoulder. With ghosts of light fluttering around its circle, the spotlight followed him, widening its focus as it went, until reaching the outline, the curvy outline of a grand piano. It washed the heavy, carved legs with light, then climbed over the Steinway and brought a figure standing by its side out of the shadows.

  And there, against the background of richly decorated panels around the stage, in a long, shimmering evening gown that seemed to be aglow, was the one who had vanished, mysteriously, from my life. I looked at her bright, green eyes and for just a moment thought I felt her looking back at me.

  No, I said to myself. From up there, she couldn’t have spotted me. To her I am part of a crowd, a dark, anonymous mass with a glint here, a glint there, flashing across the glass of a pair of binoculars, aimed at her from this and that direction.

  It was at that moment that by the pang, the sharp pang in my heart, I knew: love was not something I could decide not to do.

  There I was, held by a spell.


  The Wind that Wrapped Us in a Chill

  The next morning I woke up to the sound of a song, playing from the radio on the other side of the wall, in the neighbor’s apartment:

  That night in the city we heard the big heartbeat

  We felt it go through us every step, every street

The glitz that spelled a thrill

  The stars that rolled and spun

  The winter wind that wrapped us in a chill

  And forged us into one

  The song was perfect for evoking the feel of last night’s date with Natasha. It filled me with joy, but also with worry: I cared deeply about her and could not bear the thought of her moving from one place to another, like a gypsy.

  With all my heart I hoped that she would agree to move into my father’s apartment and make it her home. But what if she would refuse? Then, in all probability, I would lose contact with her upon my return to London. I feared this outcome. I dreaded the moment when our story would be cut off.

  To move things along in the right direction I spent the entire morning preparing the place for the possibility of handing over the keys to her. First I used a large sponge and a solution of water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid to remove dust and grease. Then I taped the trim with masking tape and used the roller, which was an ingenious painting device, invented only last year.

  And a strange thing happened while I was rolling paint over the walls: with every stroke I felt as if I were whitewashing the traces of my family, of guests and neighbors who had visited us during holidays, birthdays, parties, even wakes. The fingerprints all of them had left behind were now lost to sight. I felt as if it were my own shadow that I was blotting out, my own existence.

  No longer did I belong here.

  And I asked myself: moving on, how would I preserve the past? Clearly I could not rely on physical mementos, on objects and houses, to remain in place so they could hint at history. What would help me recall events in my life and in the lives of others?

  Perhaps I could put pen to paper and capture some of the stories I had heard. Then, these stories would live forever. The characters would leap from my mind onto the paper, and from there—into the mind of readers everywhere.

  Where would I start? With something that happened in my early childhood? Or else, something that happened this year? After all, these last months turned out to be simply amazing. I was lucky, and so grateful, to come across such remarkable characters. How would I go about depicting them?

  For some time now I had a vague wish to become an author, but had no real experience with the craft of writing. After all I had never written a story, never felt the urge to do so, until now.

  With paint-stained fingers I opened my little notebook, only to find out that even a blank page could have an expression. This one, to me, seemed rather intimidating.

  The first idea that came to mind was to write about my girl. I started a sentence and immediately stopped. This story had no end and no middle either. It would be hard for me to develop it, having only a beginning.

  Besides, Natasha was too close to me, close to my heart. My passion for her blinded me. I needed someone else to write about, someone I could examine at some distance, so as to describe him in an objective manner, seeing into his heart and guts, the way I believed a writer would do.

  My next idea was to write the story of one of the fellow marines I had come to know, like Ryan. Our conversations gave me plenty of material, and whatever details I missed I could fill in from my own experience. One thing that intrigued me about him was the contrast between the way he saw himself and the way his girlfriend, Lana, saw him. It was a conflict in the making, wrapped up in the guise of an affair.

  I remembered him telling me, “So many cute babes here, and they all adore us and want to have a little chat, which is a bit hard to understand, because they speak with that fascinating, mind-bending foreign accent, which makes me forget the name of my girlfriend back home.”

  And I recalled Lana saying, “At the time he seemed like a shy, inexperienced young fellow, no, not his boss but Ryan himself, which may surprise you, because I can tell—looking at the pictures he has sent me from London—that nowadays he seems to be carrying on, with great confidence as well as vigor, with the ladies.”

  It was then that I came up with the brilliant idea of writing their story, with shades of deceit on her part and infidelity on his. I would develop it in stark contrast to our love.

  Having worked all this in my mind, the first sentence came to me with surprising ease:

  Ryan was first introduced to Lana at his boss’s house, where he and a few other guests had to stand around waiting for dinner, with nothing but some dry nibbles to help pass the time, and nothing but the weather to keep the conversation afloat—until a full hour later, when she finally arrived.

  I could easily describe how my character would become infatuated with Lana. After all, I was a man in love:

  He was seated at the table next to her, and noticed her long, wavy hair. It had blond streaks, and smelled good. The perfume was very subtle—just enough to put him under a spell.

  Then I asked myself if Ryan would object to me writing about him. Would I be invading his privacy by doing so? Should I change the name of my character to protect the innocent? I decided against it, at least for now. After all, if you could not annoy somebody, there was little point in writing.

  Her wrist was so close to his that he could sense her warmth through the fabric of her blouse, and it set him afire. By the end of the main course he managed to ask her, with a sudden catch in his voice, to pass the butter. The effort left him speechless, and so he thanked her in his own manner, with a slight nod but without meeting her eyes.

  All of a sudden I discovered that there was little time to complete the story. I had to hurry, remove the masking tape from the trim, place the paint bucket and painting tools in storage, finish cleaning up the apartment, wash the stains of both paint and ink from my fingers, and get ready for my date.

  My last task was to carry the old mattress out into the street. I would not be sleeping in this place tonight. Uncle Shmeel had already agreed to let me use his sofa.

  I shined my shoes, dressed up and opened the door to leave, but felt compelled to come back in and cast a last look. While at it I gave in to temptation and scribbled one more paragraph in my story. In it I began to give my character some of my own traits, such as the love of music. I figured it would help me breathe life into him.

  And even though his name on paper was still Ryan I began to think I should change it. He was a creature born out of my own mind, and needed a name that reflected it.

  Perhaps, Leonard.

  I crossed out a few words, rearranged a couple of sentences, and read the paragraph out loud, so I might hear the sound of it:

  Leonard discovered that—just like him—she loved Opera. With a sudden blush, Lana told him that she could appreciate the purity of vocal tone. She said she adored Puccini and could even describe, in a heavy Russian accent, several passages from the greatest Italian operas written by him. Her cheeks were so red, so rosy! She talked about Tosca, about La Boheme, and by the time she recited a few notes from Madama Butterfly, Leonard knew he had to have this woman, even though the color of her eyes was still a mystery to him.

  The song started playing again. This would be the last time I would hear the radio here, on the other side of the wall. I left the place, thinking, Manhattan, here I come!

  Leonard And Lana

  Sample from

  My Own Voice

  A story written by Lenny, 1942

  Leonard was first introduced to Lana at his boss’s house, where he and a few other guests had to stand around waiting for dinner, with nothing but some dry nibbles to help pass the time, and nothing but the weather to keep the conversation afloat—until a full hour later, when she finally arrived.

  He was seated at the table next to her, and noticed her long, wavy hair. It had blond streaks, and smelled good. The perfume was very subtle—just enough to put him under a spell. Naturally, he found himself tongue tied. He felt as if his boss expected him to be sociable and charming—which made him, without fail, even more rigid than usual.

  He ate in silence, swallowing his pride along with a mouthful of chi
cken soup, and listened to the symphony of sounds around him: Le’Chaim! Le’Chaim! To Life, said the guests, wine cups clinking against each other, chuckles spreading, chewed-up words garbling into slurps and gulps, punctuated here and there by soup sipping intervals.

  Lana was chatting across the table with his boss. Despite her bubbly laughter—or maybe because of it—Leonard thought he could detect a certain strain, a certain tension in her voice. She seemed a bit uptight, even nervous at times, which brought up in her a heavy Russian accent. It was especially pronounced during the first few sentences. Then it softened a bit, or maybe he learned to like the way it played out. Normally that accent would be jarring to his ears—but now, to his surprise, he found it musical, endearing even.

  He noticed the various rhythms of her breathing—at times excited, at times relaxed.

  Her wrist was so close to his that he could sense her warmth through the fabric of her blouse, and it set him afire. By the end of the main course he managed to ask her, with a sudden catch in his voice, to pass the butter. The effort left him speechless, and so he thanked her in his own manner, with a slight nod but without meeting her eyes.

  What color were they? He had absolutely no idea. Her whole figure was, to him, a blur.

  At this point it became clear to him that the entire evening was simply a disaster, and that the earlier he would leave, the better he could preserve some semblance of having enjoyed it. He was gone, quite abruptly, halfway through dessert.

  A week later his boss, who could be overbearing at times, invited him to dinner once again. Caught off guard, Leonard heard himself being agreeable.

  “Seven o’clock?” he said, “Sure. I’ll be there.”

  This time he gave some attention to his appearance. Standing in front of the mirror, hands stuck in the sleeves, he pulled a sweater over his head. He flailed a bit until he managed, somehow, to find the opening; at which time Leonard saw his father’s eyes rising up over the neckband. They looked squarely at him from the glass, tired and brown. The eyes were followed by a nose and finally—a mustache. That was the moment Leonard decided to shave it.

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