Hello there old friend. It’s been too long.
Out of the darkness came nothing. The void that lived within the numb had been silent for far too long. His fingers weren’t used to moving around the keyboard. His thoughts buried deep shrouded by the blanket that made him wish for the old pain.
He had been within, withdrawn for too long. He had been circling the pit of creation, that deep well where enthusiasm drowned long abandoned to the self doubt and the silent criticism he felt from the corners of other people’s eyes.
And he knew that look.
Years ago, he had caught himself give that look when presented in good faith with a friend’s hard work. It was good. Just good. And now that memory’s cold dead hands reached out with whispers that if he hadn’t made it by now it was too late. You’re too late.
Now he was that man. Now he was that woman. Now it was his turn and he felt the unspoken breaths. He heard the same words blowing gently into his ear by sirens of forgotten desires. Too little, Too late. Good, but not good enough.
But still he circled. Still he stalled.
It had taken him an eternity to return to the page. The fire had gone.
Perhaps he would find it in the kitchen but all he found was the last piece of cheese in the back of a cold fridge. Shaven and bitten, now forgotten. Just a stump of hardened dairy product half wrapped in it’s old jacket becoming one with the frost in the corner.
He looked for inspiration on the internet and found nothing but porn and distraction and art supplies.
Foam core boards and multicoloured highlighters and post it notes. He would do it properly this time. He would plot it all out. Sketch his ideas and the story would take shape.
So he clicked.
Two more days past.
He pretended it wasn’t procrastination.
The A2 foam boards were divided on the wall into acts all hanging in portrait. Four boards. The middle two acting as the larger middle act – effectively two acts in one. The first and last board – the first and last act.
He wasted hours lighting them. Creating a space where he imagined himself Sorkin-like throwing post-it notes onto the boards creating the next script the one that would land him the job. He imagined the conversation from journalists and how he would regale them of his technique, how he battled writers block and won. Perhaps he would start a YouTube channel? Tips and tricks for the aspiring writer.
He built a little shelf for the all the pens and blu-tack and pins and inspirations that he would need. He stood back and admired his handiwork ready to fire an arrow into the heart of the beast.
And he waited because he was ready and she would come to him. The muse would come.
He stared at the boards.
Took a dump.
‘Cause there was nothing. He was barren and devoid of any idea of what to do next.
So he went for a walk and came back drenched. The heavens had pissed on him. The thunder howled ridicule. The lighting struck a tree nearby and he wished it had been him. The butchered tree wished it too.
He watched dozens and dozens of films. Research, he told himself. But all he saw were those more successful than him and he railed at the fuckers who wrote that shit. He was better than that and he knew it. Well at least better than the shit ones. He was at least better than mediocre. Secretly he knew he was brilliant.
He tried running.
That would do it. Clear his head. Get some fresh air into his lungs. Take his mind off the dozens of rejection emails he was getting every day or would be if he had sent anything out.
It did nothing but make him more angry and more bitter and have more energy to feel so, but at least his anger was something new and determined to use the energy for good, he held on to it.
All through the night.
And into the morning.
Three days of insomnia damped the fire.
And three days later the pit was still there.
And it was there the week after.
The treacle he walked through each day made everything feel like he was enclosed in cling film. Everything he touched was one step removed from where it should be. He was miserable in a crowd and miserable alone. Only that wasn’t it. He just felt numb. At least the spark of anger was something.
One long night dark night he had planned his own death.
He thought about the twitchy man that always crossed his path on his way home. This time he would buy something. Maybe everything. Definitely some opioids and a bag of weed. He imagined smoking the weed and shooting up the heroin and slipping into a deep bath, submerging himself. He would hold his breath until he could breathe no more. Or would he plunge all the smack into his veins and let nature takes it’s course. He would fall asleep and slip into the bath and drown and not even know it.
He would also shit himself and the picture of someone finding him in a pool of rotting flesh and shit and puffy eyes and shrivelled penis upset him.
Especially the shrivelled penis.
Jumping off the bridge would be a good idea except for the actual falling. And what if he changed his mind on the way down? or worse changed his mind miraculously surviving the fall in the silt bed below only to get stuck and watch the tide bring his now unwanted death. That could happen. And he wouldn’t be the first. It wouldn’t even be an original death.
FAILED SCREENWRITER FAILED SUICIDE RESULTS IN DEATH.
It was a catchy headline though.
No. It was a bad time of year to kill yourself. Christmas was coming and it would be a bit of a downer for his mother. His sister probably wouldn’t mind, they didn’t get along, but she was Catholic and that would create a lot of confusion within her.
And a lot of confession.
Pluses and minuses, he thought. Pluses and minuses.
He too was Catholic and knowing his luck God was a catholic God and he would be sent straight to hell for committing suicide.
So suicide then was out of the question.
A real job then?
A nine to five?
The thought appealed to him. The idea of having weekends off and bank holidays and having a drink after work. Maybe he would meet a nice girl and settle down. Make his Mother happy.
But he remembered the actuality. Remembered just how miserable he felt plodding along with all the rest of the zombies and brain dead vampires. And besides he hated the public enough, too much to become one of them.
So what else was there?
Only the page and the word
The word and the page.
The laptop was still sitting there open. A blank white screen. A blinking cursor.
Where had she gone?
Would he have to beg?
Would she listen?
No answer from the void.
Nothing. Always nothing.
Not even a notion of nothing.
The page called but he was a spent man.
How then to begin?
How to force himself to sit on down at the keys and make himself write? How could he write when he had no ideas no inspiration?
The kettle clicked off and he stared at the blank screen for a moment before going to the kitchen and pouring himself a cuppa.
He circled the laptop like a old dog sniffing around the arse of an indifferent cat.
Sit down, he said.
Just sit the fuck down.
He sat down.
He raised his hands.
He put his fingers on the keys.
And just started to type.
Hello there old friend, he wrote. It’s been too long.
Categories: Short Story (Prose)