Authors: Kim Green
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2008 by Kim Green
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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First eBook Edition: August 2008
“A sparky, gutsy story about how an unintentional lie sends one woman’s life spinning out of control. Raquel Rose is a charismatic heroine who will have you rooting for her from the first page.”
—Whitney Gaskell, author of
“Green’s effervescent prose and pitch-perfect humor will surely charm readers. Her deeply imagined characters seem like old friends as their story unfolds with effortless grace.”
—Jody Gehrman, author of
Notes from the Backseat
“Kim Green is a must-read! LIVE A LITTLE is wise, winning, and funny, with engaging characters that pull you in and pages that crackle with wit and insight.”
—Veronica Wolff, author of
Master of the Highlands
Praise for previous novels by Kim Green
“Kim Green is an exceptionally talented writer who explores love, life, and friendships with wit and honesty. In
she creates a world you will love to lose yourself in.”
—Theresa Alan, author of
Who You Know
Spur of the Moment
“I loved it!”
—Melissa Senate, author of
See Jane Date
Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?
Is That a Moose in Your Pocket?
For Lucca and Zev
ome books emerge from the author’s mind shimmering with wit and clarity. Then there’s the other kind. I owe a great deal to the editing talents and fortitude of Amy Einhorn and Caryn Karmatz Rudy, without whom this book would be an anemic version of itself. Thanks again to Victoria Sanders and her associates, for finding such a good home for
Live a Little.
Beth Thomas is a brilliant copy editor, and Brigid Pearson’s jacket design thrills me every time I see it. Dierdre Gilmore’s insights into breast-cancer culture and the psychology of the disease were invaluable. Heather Hughes gave me perceptive feedback when I needed it most. It seems like my family is always stepping up to offer support, child care, and the occasional cocktail in times of need: the Wassermans in Nashville, the Gibrats in Antibes, and the Greens in San Francisco, New York, and Montana. Thank you, all. Also: Many thanks to my readers, especially those of you who have taken the time to write to me over the years. And, finally, to Gabe, Lulu, and Zev; I love you. If you didn’t make the house so lively, I wouldn’t have found so many charming cafés in which to work.
There are a thousand small ways in which friends and family help me push a book along, foremost among them continuing to believe that I can do it. If I have forgotten to mention you here, know that I appreciate everything you do, from the impromptu brainstorms to the unscheduled pep talks.
Please visit the following organizations and others like them and get involved in beating this disease; their work is
Breast Cancer Fund
National Breast Cancer Coalition
Avon’s Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade
Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization
National Breast Cancer Foundation
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Young Survival Coalition
The Mautner Project
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Celebrating Life Foundation
National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations
We Interrupt This Broadcast . . .
Have you ever wondered what you’d do if they told you that you were dying? Not like, someday you’re going to die. Imminently. As in three months.
I used to think about it periodically. But when they tell me, my reaction is nothing like what I’d imagined: the raw terror, tingling in the spinal region, crying ranging from dignified sobbing to Irish wake–style caterwauling. Perhaps a swoon. No. What I actually do is thank the doctor—
him, for God’s sake—proceed to have a calm, rational conversation with him about my prognosis, then— “sexual fantasy starring the middle-aged” alert!—hypothesize doing him. Yeah, him.
The guy nervously plucking at his white sleeve, exposing a swatch of swarthy ethnic wrist.
As soon as the words leave his mouth, I wonder opportunistically if his dismay can be leveraged somehow. Sexually, that is. I guess when you’re going to die and you can count the number of orgasms you’ve enjoyed in low double digits, it suddenly seems absolutely essential to cram in as many as you humanly can. The doctor is young, divinely average-looking, and terrifically bad at it. Delivering grim news, I mean.
“But I’m only forty-three,” I say. That part goes as rehearsed.
“I know. Sadly, it’s not as rare as you’d—”
“But surely there’s some treatment, some operation . . .”
“We’ll operate, of course, but it’s not statistically likely to work against this type at this advanced stage, Mrs. Rose—”
“But they cure people, like, all the time! I read something about a new drug from Norway. . . or was it Denmark?”
Meissner’s eyes flick to the desk clock, which he has cleverly attempted to conceal behind a trophy topped by a golf club–wielding bald man. He nods sagely. “Cyclopaclizole. FDA pulled it. Too many myoclonic seizures,” he says with a trace of regret, as if we are discussing a very effective flea collar.
At the word “seizure,” my shattered brain does a clumsy swan dive, landing in the convivial pool that is carnal escapism.
“Oh, can it, will you? Look,” I say, leaning over slightly so he can get an eyeful of cleavage, which I know is Grade A prime in spite of being riddled with tumors. “Will you have sex with me?”
Then we fuck like demented bunnies on the oversize bigdick substitute oak desk, right on top of the dreaded biopsy results.
Okay, a girl can dream, can’t she?
Somehow I manage to stagger out of the office without collapsing on or molesting anyone. I slide into the car and burn myself on the sunbaked seat belt buckle. Something perverse makes me press my hand hard against it, conjuring a sizzle. Chemo terrifies me. I wonder if it will hurt ten times as much as the burn. A hundred times as much? Five hundred?
The minivan skews to a stop in front of our mailbox. For a millisecond, I contemplate moving it to make way for the postman. Then it dawns on me that I no longer have to care what he thinks of me. I don’t realize I’ve left my purse and
keys in the car until I’m at the front door.
I ring my own doorbell.
Taylor swings the door open. “Yeah?” Her cell is rammed in her ear. She’s wearing a triangle bikini top, and her boobs are insanely perky. It is hard to believe we emanate from the same gene pool.
“Did you look in the peephole? What if I was a rapist?” I am nearly shouting.
“Then I’d kick you in the nuts and shut the door.”
I push past her, pausing in the guest bath to gulp water directly from the faucet. My throat hurts. Suddenly, everything wrong in the universe seems like a symptom instead of just garden variety Jewish hypochondria.
Taylor blocks the way to my bedroom and holds up a scrap of cloth. “Mom, can you go to Urban Outfitters tomorrow and get me some more of these tanks? Not the girls’ ones, they’re in the guys’ section. Get me blue, green, and black. And orange! But not the gross traffic-cone one, the cool one.”
Too wasted to counter the assault with an inspired lecture on the perils of not appreciating your parents properly in case they die prematurely, I ball the shirt in my hand and fall into the pile of murky bedsheets. I close my eyes and pray in what I imagine is a semi-authentic manner. I whisper “amen” and “hallelujah” several dozen times before giving up on sleep and scouring the bathroom cabinet for drugs.