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Title: Improbable Girl
Age and Genre: Adult Women's Fiction
Word Count: 82,000
Daniel knows how many steps there are to his fifth floor walk-up, and tonight he counts as he climbs a little slower than normal. Inside his apartment, his numbers and rational logic can't comfort his wife, Jane. When he finally opens the door, it’s worse than he thought: Jane’s in the tiny living room trying to put a crib together—but she isn’t pregnant.
IMPROBABLE GIRL is a dual narrator, dual-timeline love story that begins in the middle as a marriage cracks under the weight of infertility. The story bounces back and forth in time, connecting the dots between the excitement of first dates and budding love to the turmoil of needles and ultrasounds. In the present, Jane, a former dancer who’s always been in control of her body, is so consumed by getting pregnant that she neglects everything else in her life. Daniel, a hyper-logical math teacher, can never say the right thing, so he retreats into silence. In the midst of an expensive and exhausting third round of IVF, Daniel’s infidelity is followed by a confession that he can’t handle the emotional toll of more treatments. Jane packs a suitcase and walks out, barreling forward with her third egg retrieval. She browses a sperm bank, unsure of what she wants more, her marriage or a baby. When doctors discover a tumor on Jane’s ovary, Daniel's fear of losing her for good impels him to find her and earn her forgiveness. For Jane, more than a baby is at stake now, and she recognizes that she can’t do everything alone. Reunited, they face Jane’s surgery together, knowing the cancer may have spread and she could wake up from surgery unable to ever carry a baby.
First 250 Words:
I counted the stairs on the day we moved in. There are 50 steps to our apartment on the fifth floor, so every five steps is equal to 10% of the trip to the top. That is, if you ignore the 6 steps on the stoop. If I count those, then every 5.6 steps is 10% and really, that is not so nice. I’d have to break the steps into fractions, and therefore break the rise of my foot as it travels between one step and the next. I walk home tired after teaching eleven year-olds and I can’t achieve that level of precision. So we’ll disregard those first 6 steps.
Tonight as I walk up, I count by ten percent as I always do. It’s a nice rhythm as my foot strikes each step and my shoe scratches across the surface. One, two, three, four, ten, one, two, three, four, twenty. That’s five-four time in music—five beats to the measure. If it was four-four time, it would be symmetrical, but five is prime. Tough choice, symmetry or primes. In general, four-four is my favorite, symmetrical with two downbeats.
One, two, three, four, fifty. Fifty percent is nice, but my legs are burning a bit. By seventy-five, I’m getting close, so I take the steps two at a time.
I like to know exactly where I’m going and how long it will take to get there.
Beyond these stairs and their five-beat rhythm, I don’t know where Jane and I are going or how far away it is. That distance is undefined.