On this page, you will find excerpts of unpublished shorts. If you want to read more, please email me–cdulaney.willett [at] gmail.com
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Chapter 1: All the world’s a sewer
Nolan is lost and it is all Helen’s fault. Well, not all–it was stupid of him to go explore uncharted tunnels alone; stupider still to leave without telling anyone first. But most of the blame resides with her, for failing to even consider that his going, or rather his staying gone, was anything other than intentional. You must always consider every possible outcome. That was what Nolan had said, her first time in the tunnels, when she’d asked him if it was safe. Bring extra batteries, bring water, bring a cellphone. She hopes he’s heeded his own advice.
The abandoned sewer she and the two detectives–she thinks their names are Javier and Gustavo, but maybe those are just the only Spanish names she can think of–are following right now smells like rotting leaves and wet dog, though it is mercifully dry. Helen keeps darting ahead of the men, shouting Nolan’s name, too afraid of not hearing a response to bother listening for one.
“We will find him, your friend,” the tall, potbellied detective who is possibly named Gustavo says, when he catches up.
“We might,” Javier, who is about two thirds the height and half the weight of his partner, amends. Helen tears off again, leaving the men to grumble that at this stage, they really shouldn’t have to be on their feet this much, and light another cigarette. MORE
I was born in July, but you wouldn’t know from the way it welts my neck. Over the phone, my mother’s voice comes through in splinters of sweat and stress. The job is going fine, I tell her. I am the goddess of search engine optimization. The tech speak scuttles her off to prune the hydrangea.
Goddess scrambled is dodges, plus an s. I was laid off two weeks ago.
Back in September, my roommate Danya and I toasted to our senior year at Wellesley, and to what we were sure would be a spangled future. The foam bubbling out of our pilfered champagne flutes felt frothy and right then. By spring it was sour and flat and we made ironic eyes as we clinked. At the office, Jonathan Coulton’s “Code Monkey” looped over and over, chafing against stale button-downs and filmy teeth until the shredded lips of my supervisor pushed out a version of those world-crashing words. Now, in the 95-degree heat of the studio I share with Danya, I have only Sarah Bernhardt and Greta Garbo, who pass out baleful stares through faux-vintage sepia. MORE
Now that the Sting Has Gone
Usually I get couples. It’s a bicycle buggy built for two, and half full, it looks sort of dejected.
Most common are the love-struck young tourists, followed by the love-stuck older tourists, PETA supporters, eco-hipsters, and fathers during take your daughter to work day. If I want to make real money, though, I have to wait until evening, around the lower confines of Central park, when tourists are replaced with businessmen, flushed and flush and blearily hopeful about their chances of turning biker chick fantasies into reality. The blur of salmon and cream who flagged me down as he stumbled out of the Oak Room, was all of these things. One docksider had barely landed on the platform before he’d asked me my name.
“Caelie, ” I said, and then wished I’d said something different, more flamboyantly ridiculous. MORE