I stayed up all night last night, or almost all night. I tried to stop working at 4 a.m., but the document I left on the big iMac followed me around as I tried to nod off. I had taken on this project pro bono, as we used to say in law firms, for a friend of mine who paid all this money to get her book edited, and the editor had left the formatting in complete, total, disarray. So I’d offered to help, knowing it would take at least a few hours. And once I got into it time lost meaning. I couldn’t, wouldn’t stop working. It’s always like that when I take on technical work, or mechanical jobs, like formatting a Word doc.
So I lay there, cuddled up against William, and I tried to absorb myself into his calm, steady heartbeat. I wanted to slow down, and rest, just like he was. But . . .
What if I moved the stuff from the front, like the Acknowledgments, the Dedication, and the infernal Table of Contents, to the back of the book? That would solve my pagination problems. Maybe T_____ won’t mind. I really should move the TOC. I should get up and move it now. No. No. I shouldn’t do that.
I close my eyes, and the words from her book run across my mind’s eye, kind of like a newsreel. I can slow it down if I try really hard. But nothing’s moving slow right now. Hell. I can’t slow it down, so I just let the pages race past me. Sometimes I spot a misspelled word, or what would my editor call it? A predicate? A fucking predicate? Damnit, predicates are about as interesting as gerunds. I don’t like them either. I wonder what page she is on, or was on, when she went to bed. At what? Midnight?
Man, I should just get out of bed and fix it. But what if I have a seizure? My synapses are bugging out right now. Like, zing. Ping. It’s like my head is filled with some of Jim’s missing electrons. Carbon’s missing four electrons. Sodium has one extra. And one you combine that with chlorine, which has one extra electron, they get stable.
“Oh,” I’d cracked to Jim, “So that’s why they call it table salt. Because the salt is stable.”
He’d laughed out loud at my first and only chemistry joke.