Happy New Year! My holiday hiatus is over and I am back in action. To get started off on the right foot, I have a short story to share. Enjoy "Inspiration"
Once again he is huddled all alone in the dark, under a worn and faded blanket. The bluish light from his monitor casts a sickly, eerie, glow on his already pallid skin. It is here, in the waning hours before dawn, that the fickle wench known as inspiration usually appears. But on this night she is nowhere to be found. The vast emptiness of a blank page is staring back at him, mocking him. His muse, he’s concluded, has sought shelter elsewhere. Somewhere in the world, perhaps even just around the corner someone, more fortunate than he, was luxuriating in her warm embrace. Gentle as a lover’s kiss, she is whispering words (or maybe tonight it will be a melody) into another artist’s ear.
“Tramp,” he sneers like a jilted lover discovering his sweetheart in the arms of another.
He throws the blanket aside and paces the floor in frustration, fury and anguish tag-team his heart strings. A familiar, though slightly dated, quote, springs to mind. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”. Though the typewriter has been replaced by a laptop, the sentiment still rings true.
“You’ve got that part right, Mr. Hemmingway,” he whispers. “I might as well open an artery and pour out my life’s blood.”
Glaring at his keyboard, he scoffs. Just as he sat back down to give it another try; a strange noise catches his attention. He slips to the window and pulls back the binds. Out in the street, a young couple was walking hand-in-hand. He rolls his eyes and snorts derisively at the pair as they pause under the streetlight, huddled together in a passionate embrace. Despite his apparent disgust, he watches as their kisses become more demanding, urgent and wanton. The same noise, louder and closer now, makes him jump. He yanks the blinds back, scanning the street below for a car that had backfired or kids setting off fireworks. If the noise had come from outside, the amorous couple took no notice. This time the noise is so loud it could have come from his own bedroom yet the couple outside doesn’t even flinch. He shakes his head in disbelief.
“Love may be blind but who knew it was deaf, as well?”
The chuckle at his own joke freezes on his lips as a cold hand settles on his shoulder.
He spins around; trying to control the fear in his voice, but the room is empty. He’s sucking in air in huge gulps, trying to quell his racing heart. He was certain that he felt someone’s hand, cold as the grave, touch his shoulder. Subconsciously, his own hand creeps across his body to caress the spot where he’d felt the touch. Convinced it’s just the late hour and his mind playing sleep-deprived tricks on him, he moves to switch off his monitor. A bony finger tap-tap-taps on the back of his skull.
“No, there’s no one there.” He insists, willing himself to resist the urge to turn around.
He stands as still as a statue, waiting to feel another touch. The clock on the wall ticks away the seconds until he’s determined that he has allowed his imagination to kick into overdrive. Incensed that his imagination failed him when he sat at the computer, he feels his skin flush and his hands clench into fists. He takes a step toward his desk and a force, with the strength of an NFL linebacker, slams him across the room. Before he can stagger to his feet an invisible foot connects with his jaw. His scream is suffocated by a gush of blood flooding his mouth. A gurgling cough sputters flecks of red on the wall and down his shirtfront. Globs of blood smear across the back of his hand as he wipes his lips dry. Without warning he is lifted from the floor and hurled, face first, into his desk. His monitor comes to life and the Word document is no longer blank.
The word continues in neat columns, filling the page. Before he can scream, the force of impact knocks his head back and it lands with a thump on the desk. In the split-second before he loses consciousness, pain registers in his brain like a baseball bat to the temple. As blood pours from the gashes, it spills onto his keyboard. “Tramp?” is erased from the screen. Instead new words begin to form on the page, one letter at a time…..
Once again he is huddled all alone in the dark, under a worn and faded blanket.