Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Do You Know? - Excerpt

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach? On the eve of her 39th birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at 29, but with her 40th birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up”, Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometim es painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number. 
Meredith Schorr, best-selling author of light women’s fiction digs deep in her newest novel and raises the age old issue of the ‘proverbial clock’ that haunts many women in a way that is refreshing and sassy no matter your age or relationship status.

Purchase the book at:

An eight minute cab ride later, we are sitting across from each other at a small table at Alta, a Mediterranean/Spanish tapas restaurant we have wanted to try for a while. The one time we attempted to get in, with Melanie and her husband, we hadn’t made a reservation and were told we’d have to wait until eleven p.m. to eat. We weren’t cool enough to dine so late and opted to go elsewhere. This time, Doug made a nine p.m. reservation, and surprisingly we are seated immediately. I order a glass of Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain, while Doug orders a Hennessy and tonic, and we drink quietly while perusing the menu. When Doug reaches across the table and squeezes my hand, I immediately pull it back. I have no idea why I did that and try to cover by scratching my arm as if I have an itch. I smile at him. “Thanks for making the reservation.” 
Doug grins. “I’m glad they weren’t booked months in advance. I want to make you happy on your birthday.” 
“You always make me happy, Doug.”
I look at him fondly. It’s true. He always makes me happy. But… I’m scared something is missing. I shake my head.
Noticing the gesture, Doug asks, “You all right there, camper?”
I nod, thankful when the waitress comes over to take our order before I have to answer. I stifle a giggle as she blatantly leans her chest into Doug’s face when answering one of his questions about the menu options. I’d be annoyed if he wasn’t always so clueless when other women flirted with him. While Doug orders the bacon-wrapped dates, fried goat cheese, crispy brussel sprouts, braised short ribs, and lamb meatballs for us to share, I try to steady my nerves by taking small sips of Cava. It’s my birthday dinner, and I want to live in the moment. I know Doug and I will have a great time, and although forty feels like a deadline by which I need to come to terms with my doubts, I still have over 350 days to go. Almost a year. I don’t want to waste it worrying. Everything will unfold naturally. I bring my glass to my mouth, already feeling much better.
“So, it might be an odd time to bring this up, but are we okay?”
Choking on my Cava, I quickly cover my mouth with my hand. I swallow hard. “Why would you ask that?” 
Doug does a half shrug. “I don’t know, Mags. You seem restless lately.” 
I chew on my bottom lip, feeling sick to my stomach and not at all excited for the feast the waitress will soon deliver to our table. I don’t want to discuss this now, but I’m not very quick on my feet. I’m also a horrible liar. When I was nine years old, I accidentally broke the leg off of one of Cheryl’s Barbie dolls. I had been playing with a classmate of mine while Cheryl was at a Little League softball game. I left the Barbie doll in the room we shared, praying she wouldn’t notice since she claimed to be too old to play with Barbies. My prayers were not answered, and she confronted me later that day. Too slow on my feet to come up with a good excuse, I blamed it on my friend, and then immediately confessed it was not, in fact, my friend who was the guilty culprit, but me. I suck. 
“Maybe I have been. I’ve been thinking too much.”
Doug smirks. “You? Think too much? Noooo!”
“Very funny.” I pout.
Doug reaches across the table and squeezes my hand again. This time I don’t let go. He smiles softly. “What have you been thinking about?”
I bite the inside of my cheek, contemplating how to say it and finally blurt out, “Turning forty, us, turning forty, my life, turning forty.” I avoid eye contact. I hate that I’m so single-minded on turning forty and know Doug hates it, too.
Doug removes his hand from mine. “Okay. I get the ‘turning forty’ part, but the ‘us’ part concerns me.”
I take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. This is going to be hard. “I love you, Doug. I really do. But… aren’t you ever uncertain about, well, the future?” Please say yes. Please understand where I’m coming from.
His face despondent, Doug frowns and slowly shakes his head. “No. I can’t say I am. But I guess you are?”
The waitress has placed a few of our dishes on the table, and I absently shove a stuffed date in my mouth. It might as well be dirt. Knowing it’s too late to seamlessly change the subject, I dip my chin downward. “I think I’m feeling stressed about getting older and wondering if I should be more settled by now.” I face Doug again. “I always thought I’d be married and finished having kids at this stage of my life. Forty seemed so old back when I was younger, and here it is—looming.”
Doug takes a long sip of his drink. “Do you want to get married, Mags? You drop the subject whenever I bring it up.”
“I do want to get married. And that’s what concerns me. Why do I keep changing the subject? Why is it I’m living with such an amazing man who loves me so much, and yet I don’t have a secret stash of Bride Magazine under our bed like most girls who’ve been living with their boyfriends for two years?”
“You mean you don’t?” Doug jokes.
I appreciate his attempt to lighten the mood, but I know this is going to end badly. “I worry if this…” I point at him, and then at me. “If you and me are right, I shouldn’t have these doubts.” I see the sadness in Doug’s eyes and fight the urge to stab myself with a fork for hurting him.
He scratches his head. “So, what do you want to do about it? Do you want to break up?”
I sit up straight in my chair. “No!” 
“Well, I’m not sure how to respond to this, Maggie.”
“I don’t want to break up,” I say as an alternative solution percolates in my mind. “But a time-out might not be a bad idea. Maybe I should take the next year to figure out what I want so I can have all of my ducks in a row by the time I turn forty. That way, I’ll be sure.” I wonder why I didn’t think of this earlier. It’s a fabulous idea.
When Doug jerks his head back at my suggestion, I have a feeling it means he doesn’t think it’s fabulous at all. Keeping his stare on me, he says, “So, let me get this straight. You want to take a year hiatus to decide what you want to do about us. And I’m supposed to wait to see what you decide?”
It seemed like a good idea in my head, but when he puts it that way, it sounds really one-sided. “If I take time now to confirm my wavering is simply me being stupid and not based on something solid, we can move forward free of doubts.”
“What about what I want?” Doug asks. 
“What do you want?” I whisper.
“I want you to be sure about us now. I want to pretend this conversation never happened.”
I nod. “So, let’s do that.” I raise my glass and clink it against his. “Cheers!” I smile even as I feel tears brimming in my eyes. There is no way we can erase this conversation from our memories, unless he is Jim Carrey and I am Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and we both know it. 
Doug laughs and shakes his head. “If only it was that easy.”
I shrug. “So what do we do now?”
Doug stands up, and for a second, I think he is going to walk out on me. “I need to use the bathroom.”
I watch his back as he walks away. When I can’t see him anymore, I reach into my bag and pull out the two Excedrin I always keep in my pocketbook in case of a headache. I swallow the pills down with my Cava and grimace as the fizz from the drink burns my throat. Afterwards, I stare at the uneaten plates of food on the table. What a waste. When I look up, Doug is walking towards me with watery eyes. He sits down without saying anything. I am about to break the silence with some stupid joke when he says, “I love you, Maggie.”
“I love you too,” I say, meaning it. 
“But you’re not in love with me.” He doesn’t ask it as much as state it as fact.
“I am in love with you, Doug. I just—”
“You just what?” he interrupts, sounding angry.
I whisper, “I worry it’s not enough.” My voice sounds like it’s coming from someone else’s mouth. 
“I think we should break up, Maggie.”
My body involuntarily jerks at his words, and I grip the table for support. “You mean permanently or a temporary break?”
“It’s been three years, Maggie. If you’re not sure I’m the one by now, chances are, I’m not. I don’t want to waste more of your time.” He pauses. “Or mine. I’ll hunt for a new apartment.”
I swallow back my tears. This is not how I imagined the night would unfold. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
Doug gives a slight shake of his head. “I’m sure I don’t want to do this. But I’m also sure I have to. I’ll stay with Connor tonight and pack up some of my stuff while you’re at your mom’s tomorrow night.”
I try to imagine my family’s reaction to hearing Doug and I broke up, and that he moved out to live with his older brother. I can’t. I’m pretty certain my own reaction will be delayed since I currently feel like this is happening to someone else. 
Doug continues speaking. “I’ll take care of the bill. You should get out of here.”
“I can’t let you pay for all of this.” I point at all of the uneaten food. “I ruined my birthday, and now you’re going to pay for it?” 
Doug drops his credit card on the table and shrugs. “Your birthday was Tuesday so, no, you didn’t ruin it. But you did break my heart.”
Not meeting my gaze, he says, “Just go, Maggie.”
I stand up but linger. I don’t want it to end this way.
“Please, Maggie. Go.”
And so I leave.     

About the Author:
A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hard-working trademark paralegal and her still single (but looking) status. Meredith is also the co-founder of BookBuzz, a live author/reader event held annually. She is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. How Do You Know? is her fourth novel. To learn more, visit her at

Connect with the author at:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing my excerpt - can't wait for you to read the whole book :)