Spotlight Excerpt: YAX!
This novel excerpt was written by Lauren Walters in Catapult’s first 12-Month Novel Generator graduating class
Monica Rifky is faking a pregnancy. The daughter of a local gameshow celebrity, Monica is frustrated at work, painting dumb wilderness landscapes for 2-star hotel chains. She’s also stringing along an old acquaintance because she likes what she thinks he sees in her: a real artist. Monica needs to be taken seriously—as an artist, maybe as a girlfriend, and as an adult! If she tells her boss she’s knocked up, she can get some time off to become a real painter. A good painter. YAX! is about what it might mean to be a real artist, the fictions we create for ourselves, and the lies we tell others.
In bed Monica scrolled through the website for You’re Absolutely Faking, LLC, the highest rated online retailer of documents and supplies for manufacturing a false pregnancy, according to a search. Monica did not know what she was looking for. A positive pregnancy test? A doctor’s signature on a testing form?
A live chat window appeared.
A message from Cate: Welcome to You’re Absolutely Faking! Is there anything I can help you find?
Cate—yes. There was something.
Monica wrote to her. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for.
No problem, Cate said. I’d be happy to help! Are you shopping for a gag gift or did you have something else in mind?
I’m not pregnant. But my boss needs proof I am.
Okay! We can work with that. How many weeks along are you?
I don’t know, Monica wrote. Like 5?
Monica’s prenatal exam would be in a week or two, Cate told her. She’d get an ultrasound and a due date calculation. The doctor would tell her to take prenatal vitamins.
Monica exhaled. Cate, a genius.
Did you have a specific due date in mind? Cate asked.
Some women like to specify the date to include on the Prenatal Exam Summary (Signed). Maybe a birthday, anniversary, or the date of an upcoming event? Or if there are particular dates you want to avoid.
Monica imagined herself in a different body, presenting her boyfriend—not Shep—with a doctor’s note that said their baby was due on his birthday. “Kismet,” the not-Shep said, and then he and not-Monica kissed, hard, and wet.
Or: another not-Monica, this one having egg whites with a woman wearing a tank top that said sweating for my wedding in script. “Your due date is my fucking wedding day?” the bride-to-be said. “You’re a bitch.”
Are you still there?
Yes, sorry, Monica typed. The date doesn’t matter.
Got it. Cool. And since you’re a first time customer, we’ll include a 30-day supply of Mother’s Choice Prenatal “Vitamins” free!
The Mother’s Choice Prenatal “Vitamins” are packaged to look 100% authentic. (Really, they’re just sugar pills.) It’s great to leave them on your kitchen counter, or next to your bed, just like a mommy-to-be.
Cate, wonderful Cate. There was a starter bundle—$59 for the 7 Week Sonogram (One Fetus) and Prenatal Exam Summary (Signed). Monica entered her credit card.
Anything else I can help with today?
Nope, but thank you, Cate! You were so helpful!
We’re always happy to help. I hope we’ll see you back here in a few weeks!
Monica closed her laptop and eased against the headboard. How convincing she would be with a picture of her fetus and a paper that said, she imagined, in bold: “Monica Rifky is definitely pregnant.”
Lauren Walters lives in New York City, where she owns a graphic design and editing business, working primarily with authors and progressive political organizations. She’s on the board of OMG BookFest, a traveling book festival for middle-grade readers. Lauren studied fiction and comedy writing at NYU. Find her at lauren-walters.com