2014 First Fiction Sampler

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
By Mira Jacob

There are small blessings, tiny ones that come unbidden and make a hard day one sigh lighter. The weather that greeted Amina on the ride to the Highlands neighborhood for the Beale wedding on Saturday afternoon was just that kind of blessing. Yes, it was a bit cooler than it should have been in June, but the sky was scattered with a few pale clouds—perfect for everlasting union. The Commodores sang “Easy” on the radio, and she sang with them, Why would anybody put chains on me sounding existentially good. Amina was easy. She could make Lesley Beale happy. At ten minutes before two, she pulled into the Seattle Golf Club parking lot, where one of the many green-clad groundkeepers waved her around to the back entrance.

“She had some trees rushed in this morning for the long hall,” Dick, the bean-shaped grounds manager, explained, pressing a linen handkerchief to his upper lip as Amina passed through the doorway. “No one can go in for the next hour or so.”

“Is she here yet?”

“She’s been setting up the women’s lounge for the girls since ten. Eunice is back there, too.”

“What happened to the library?”

“Changed her mind, changed her mind,” Dick said, then turned abruptly to answer the question of a woman holding an armload of lilies.

Of course she had changed her mind. Changing her mind was a kind of sport for Lesley, whose clipped charm, equine good looks, and marriage to the heir of the Beale department store fortune had long ago turned her into the exact kind of person whose mind did not worry over how much each change changed. A fleet of handsome catering staff passed Amina as she made her way down the hall.

Excerpted from The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob. Copyright © 2014 by Mira Jacob. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.