Author - Nina Cordoba
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9/15/2013 11:33:24 AM

Not Dreaming of You Outtake-Beginning

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Recently, I was cleaning out my old Word docs, when I found the original beginning to Not Dreaming of You.

Although I loved the idea of opening the story with Kiki cataloguing her teacher gifts and crying over her kids, this scene contained too much information and backstory at once, most of it dumped into their conversation. I wanted to give the reader a sense of Kiki and her history, but as I learned more about writing, I decided this had to go. I eventually removed it and replaced it with the current "dream prologue" and airport goodbye scene, then worked additional details into other parts of the story.

Not Dreaming of You-Outtake (unedited)

With tears in her eyes, Kiki sat at her desk behind a pile of gifts, ranging from a canvas tote bag with an apple on the front to a “World’s Greatest Teacher” coffee mug.

As she packed them to take home, she recorded the year and student’s name on the bottom of each present, just as she always did on the last day of school. She picked up one of the handmade cards and read it again.

Deer Miss Villanueva,Thank you for being my teacher this year. You are much niser than my teacher last year. She was at a difrint school. I licked coming to your class alot. I hope my dad works in Arjinteena agin next year, so I can see you.

I love you.

Megan Smalley 

Kiki thought about how timid the second-grader had been at the beginning of the year. Like many of the students in the private school where she taught, Megan’s father was transferred from the U.S. to Buenos Aires by his company, and the child had been overwhelmed by the move. But, when her mother came to pick her up at the end of the first day, Megan had run back and thrown her arms around her new teacher in a grateful hug.

Kiki imagined a whole summer without “her kids.” Even the excitement of going back to L.A. and spending time with Chris couldn’t stop the ache in her chest as she’d waved goodbye to them. She grabbed a tissue from the box on the corner of her desk and blew her nose into it.

“Why do you always cry when school is out?” Alejandra said, as she let the heavy blue door slam behind her. “They drive you crazy half the time, anyway,”

“I love them!” Kiki answered. “You’re not a teacher, so you don’t understand.”

“Whatever.” Her friend rolled her eyes and jingled her keys at her. “Are you ready to go?”

“Almost. . . As soon as I finish this one, we can carry everything to the trunk.” Kiki tried to get ink to adhere to the bottom of a scented candle. She dropped the pen and grabbed a Sharpie, wrinkling her nose at the smell as she uncapped it.

She’d noted Alejandra’s business suit when she came in. Since Kiki had rarely seen her friend out of blue jeans from kindergarten through college, the banker’s clothes always looked strange to her. It was hard to believe this was the same girl who drove the teachers crazy with rubber cement “boogers” and fake sneezes.

And now she wears designer clothes and has access to the vault.

Kiki glanced down at her own long skirt and low heels. One thing she wouldn’t miss was her “teacher wardrobe,” though she’d learned it was a necessity in a school full of young children. She never knew when she might have to bend over or dash across the playground. She thought about the boxes of new high-heeled, strappie sandals in her closet and the clothes that went with them—slim cut skirts and capris and sundresses…

“Are you sure you want all these things?” Alejandra picked up a sheet of paper. “I think this one could go in the trash. It’s a picture of a monster.”

A monster? Kiki snatched it from her. “Are you crazy? It’s a drawing of me, by one of my students.” She turned it right side up and held it so her friend could see.

Alejandra tilted her head to one side. “How can you tell?”

“Look,” Kiki pointed at the bottom of the page. “It says ‘Miss Villanueva’ right here.”

“If you say so.” Alejandra shrugged. Kiki snorted at her, smoothed out the picture, and slid it into a manila envelope with her other paper treasures. Once they were in the car, Kiki noticed it was unusually quiet, considering she and her best friend were in it together. She knew she had lots to think about, but she wondered why Ali was giving her the silent treatment.

She reached over and thumped her friend on the arm. “What’s the matter, malcriada? Are you mad at me?” Alejandra blew out a loud breath.

“Why do you want to stay gone all winter? You spend too much time in The States. Just because you were born there doesn’t mean you’re required to spend half your life there.”

Kiki thought of how she wouldn’t see her parents, or her aunt and uncle, or Ali, for the next three months. A case of premature homesickness washed over her, but she tried to focus on how great it would be to spend time with her like-a-brother-to-her cousin, again.

As Alejandra pulled up to a stop sign, Kiki kissed her fingertips and touched them to her friend’s cheek. “I’ll miss you too. You know I love you, but I need the change of scenery, and I haven’t seen Chris in months.”

That wasn’t the complete truth, but she wasn’t ready to tell Ali the rest, yet. As unusual as it was for her to keep anything a secret, Kiki hadn’t been completely honest with anyone about this trip. Not her parents, not Alejandra and not even Chris. It was much more important than a visit, or even a man-hunting expedition. Kiki had called and made an appointment long distance that she had never been able to bring herself to make in Buenos Aires.

"Well, it’s not fair. It’s summer in L.A.” Ali’s voice became forlorn as she held the back of her hand to her head.  “And I’ll be here…without you…cold and alone.”

“Ha! You have Luis to keep you warm. From what I’ve seen, he’s doing a pretty good job of it—Stop! Stop!” Kiki yelled as she rolled down her window.The car screeched to a halt. “What?” Alejandra asked.

“Manuelito's back!”  Kiki watched as her favorite teenager ambled over to the car. “Tía Kiki!” He said, as she reached through the window to put her hands on his cheeks.

“You’re all grown up.”

“He’s only been gone for two weeks, Kiki,” Alejandra said.

Kiki ignored her. “How was your trip to France?  Parlais vu Frances?”“Oui. . .Well, a little,” Manuelito said.

“Manuel! Vamanos!” Kiki turned and saw several other teenagers motioning toward Manuelito.

“Go ahead. We’ll talk later. . .Oh, come to dinner tonight because I’m leaving for The States in a couple of days and my parents will want to see you before they go to Egypt.”

“Okay, I’ll be there,” he called as he walked away.

Alejandra drove on, as Kiki watched the kids in the rearview mirror. Manuelito put his arm around a sweet-faced teenage girl.

“Oh, my God. He’s got a little girlfriend!” Kiki said. “Turn around. I want to meet her. They’re so cute!”

Alejandra sighed and kept driving. “You still act more like a mother to him than his own mother ever did.  Where was she all those times she left him with you?”

“I don’t know, but wherever it was, her husband didn’t like it.”

They turned into Kiki’s parents’ driveway, just a few blocks from the school. Although Buenos Aires was known more for French architecture than Spanish, Kiki always experienced a sense of well-being when she saw the large, Spanish-style house spread out in front of her. It was just as it had always been, in warm yellow with three welcoming archways across the front. And, the feeling was almost the same at her aunt and uncle’s home, a quarter of a mile away.

But, as comforting as her surroundings were, she couldn’t hang around and wait for something to happen. There were aspects of her future too important to leave to chance any longer, and, besides, she’d been having a feeling there was something in store for her back in California.

“Kristina?” When Ali used her real name, instead of the nickname Chris had given her when he was a baby, Kiki knew her friend was serious. “You’ve been worrying again, haven’t you?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “I can’t help it. When I looked at my class today, I thought, ‘This is all I’ll ever be able to do—borrow other people’s children and give them back at the end of the school year.’ Since I turned 26, I started thinking how close it is to 30, and--”

Alejandra put the car in ‘park’ and turned toward her. “You’re still young.” She reached over and squeezed Kiki’s chin between her thumb and forefinger. “And muy bonita, with your humungous, brown Kiki eyes,” she teased.“You know that’s not what I’m worried about.”

“Just because it was hard for your mother and your tía —And it’s not a curse, like Cassandra’s crazy mother used to say.”

“I know, but it feels like one,” Kiki replied. “Chris and I were considered miracle babies. You know our mothers would have had more, if they could. And, they were both married by twenty-one.  I feel like I’ve waited too long already. . .It takes time Ali. A year or two to find him, six months of engagement—And around 30, a woman’s fertility falls drastically from—”

“You’ve been spending too much time on the internet. This is becoming an obsession.”

“Yes. It is,” Kiki admitted. She’d thought knowing the statistics would make her feel more relaxed, but her research was having the opposite effect. But obsessed or not, she knew what was important to her and even her best friend couldn’t change her mind about it.

Alejandra was quiet. Kiki knew Ali hated it when life got too serious. She opened her door, so Kiki followed suit and met her at the back of the car. As Ali lifted the trunk lid, she smiled mischievously.

“You know, if you would drop this celibacy rule you have now, you could save time by going to bed with lots of cute guys. It would be more fun than planning a wedding, and you’d still end up with a pretty baby.” She flipped an eyebrow as she reached into the trunk.Leave it to Ali to find the sexiest solution to any situation.

Kiki chuckled, then shook her head at the ridiculous notion. “I don’t want to be a single parent. The ideal husband and father to my children is out there somewhere, and it would be a lot easier to find him if I used some criteria to sort through all the—”Alejandra dropped the box and grabbed Kiki by her upper arms. “You don’t still have that stupid list, do you?”

“Of course I still have it. And if I’d used it, instead of wasting all this time going out with whatever men I was attracted to, I might be married by now.”

“You’re panicking. Besides, any man worth having will laugh at your list.” Alejandra was thoughtful for a moment. “Is it making you sad that Luis and I are engaged?”

Yes. . . But I love you, and I want this for you. Kiki’s chest ached as she looked into her friend’s hazel-brown eyes. She remembered when they were seven and she’d used a magic marker to play connect the dots with the sprinkling of freckles across Ali’s nose. She couldn’t let her oldest and dearest friend feel guilty about being happy.

“Ali, there’s no one in the world who’s happier for you than I am. Luis is the one for you. Remember? I told you the first day we met him.”

“Yes, you did. And, I know how you love to be right about everything.” They grabbed the bags and boxes from the trunk and headed to the house.

“It’s not that I love to be right,” Kiki said somberly. “I just am—when it comes to matters of the heart, anyway—It’s like, a gift.” She lifted one of the gift bags a student had given her to illustrate her point.

Ali chuckled. “Along with your ‘psychic’ abilities?” “You believed in them until you let Chris talk you out of it.”“And he thinks he talked you out of it—fat chance. You know, if you use that list, they’re going to be calling you ‘Crazy Kiki.’”

“But maybe they’ll be calling me ‘Crazy Kiki With a Husband and Babies.’” She opened the front door, and they were accosted by a barking, twirling, fur-covered maniac. Although the box she held blocked her view, Kiki could feel him brushing against her calves. “You’re going to take good care of my Boby while I’m gone, since my parents will be traveling, right?” she asked.

“Of course I’ll take care of Boby.” Alejandra dropped her box and picked up the bizarre little dog from the floor. He had hair like a Yorkie, but with a squished face and an under-bite. “You’re lucky you found Kiki,” she said as she held Boby at eye level. “Because, most people would have let you keep on walking. You’re the strangest-looking dog I’ve ever seen.”

Kiki reached over and covered Boby’s ears. “Don’t say things like that to him. You never know what animals can understand,” she whispered. The two of them stared at each other for a moment, then burst out laughing. The tears started flowing again. “I’m going to miss you two,” Kiki said, as she threw her arms around Alejandra, squeezing poor Boby between them.
- - -
So far, each of my published stories--including Always Dreaming of You, now on presale--has gotten a brand new beginning after the book was written. I’ve learned a lot since I first started these novels, though. I think the next book, No More Mr. Nice Girl, will keep the beginning I originally wrote. That will be quite an achievement for me.

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