One Day Fiance by Lauren Landish

Ugh. If I’m talking to myself, I know I’m losing my shit. A little yipping sound from the couch reminds me that I’ve at least got someone to talk to.

“Why can’t I write like J.A. Fox?” I ask my couch as I approach, looking over the top at my two fluffy white Pomeranians, Nut and Juice. They’re brothers, pups that I got from a neighbor who suddenly realized her own Pom wasn’t sick but pregnant. I told her I’d take one to help her out but somehow ended up with the two runts of the litter. Now, the two, who really do look like a pair of pom-poms, are much bigger, healthy . . . and noisy.

Nut, who’s currently trying to turn his brother into a sister, stops his tussling to look up at me, grinning his doggy grin. Juice, who’s underneath, also looks at me for about two seconds before deciding to go all UFC on his brother and flip him, sending the two tumbling off the sofa and back to their nearly constant playful battle.

“Shoulda known I couldn’t depend on you two,” I tell them as Juice pounces away from Nut.

My pups ignore me as always, and I stretch my tense shoulders, catching a whiff of my ripe, aged cheddar smelling armpits and gag again. “Whew, shit on toast!” I gasp, quickly lowering my elbows to my sides. “I stink.”

It’s one of the perks of being a writer. Yes, I call it a perk. I can sit there and not have to worry about personal hygiene when I’m trying to hit a certain deadline. Hell, most days, I can spend the day wearing what I want. December, and I want to work wearing a Snuggie? I can do it. July, and I want to work wearing nothing but panties? Can do that too.

But when the smell’s gotten bad enough to knock yourself out, I should probably pause for some self-care. “No pauses,” I argue with myself. “You’re procrastinating. You don’t have a hot date.”

Yeah, but for real, when the stench gets so bad that even Nut and Juice give me ugly looks, I really should at least wash the hot spots—pits and pubes—because you know it’s awful when dogs, who literally greet each other by sniffing each other’s butts, start shunning you.

And I do have an afternoon writing session at the library. If my dogs are turning up their noses at me, then the writing friends I’m meeting will definitely balk and spray me down with copious doses of body spray. The last time my friend Aleria did that, I sneezed for days. She tried telling me it was my body ridding itself of toxins in that weird hoodoo-voodoo voice she does, but I’m pretty sure the only toxin I’d been exposed to was the stinky stuff she sprayed me with and the pizza rolls I had for lunch.

None of that matters, though. If I don’t get some progress made on my book, I’m dead meat. I laugh out loud, thinking that I’d smell worse then. But that’s not exactly a compliment, nor a positive thought.

I start back toward the table when my phone rings, and I look down, my heart stopping and then sprinting when I see who it is. Speak of the devil, it’s my agent, Hilda.

I don’t want to answer the call. Hilda’s nice, but she’s not going to like to hear that I’ve been doing little more than wearing out my keyboard for no reason for the past week . . . but I’ve got to keep her updated on what’s going on.

“Hilda, hey,” I greet as I answer nervously. “What’s up?”

“How’s my favorite writer doing?” Hilda asks, sounding wary but optimistic. “Almost ready to turn in your next masterpiece yet?”

I rub the middle of my forehead, hoping that I can miraculously wake up my brain this way and failing. “Uh . . . well, about that . . . have you ever been constipated? Like for a whole week? Where you try and try to push it out, but it won’t go, or well, won’t come out? Well, I’m like that . . . but just with my writing.”

Yeah, I have quite the way with words. It’s a gift, I’m told.

Hilda thinks so too, if the ew in her voice is any indication. “That’s disgusting,” she says, and I wait for the other shoe to drop. “And concerning. Poppy, you’ve got a deadline coming up, and while I can keep them off your back a bit if you’re turning in work, right now it’s . . . you’ve given me nothing for two months now.”

“I know.”

“There’s a lot riding on this,” Hilda continues as if I don’t know and tell myself that every time I get stalled. “Your reputation is your biggest asset. Publishers will always work with someone who puts out copy, but eventually, they’re going to give up hope when you don’t do that, and then you know what happens.”