You stare at a blinking line on your computer – into the face of writing constipation. The words don’t want to come out of you – at least, not the good ones. Ideas flee from you as if your page is on fire. If anything, your paper would be more useful as kindling than a story. It’s riddled with green, grammatical error squiggles under all of the sentences you started, but never got around to finishing. You want to drag it to the trashcan on your screen and never look at it again. Right with the piece that you started writing for this, but ended up having to run away from when it got too tear-stained and turned into the equivalent of serving up your twisted psyche to a group of people you want to impress – not discomfort.
You crank up the white noise in your ear buds in an effort to concentrate.
That’s better. I could almost start to see a story coming together – a disgruntled artist struggling with her medium. No, too pretentious. Just a writer trying to riddle out a difficult prompt. How is this fiction again? Right. Because we’re going to name this character Alyssa instead of Carissa. It changes everything, I promise.
Alyssa slumps over her laptop, taking a frustrated sip of coffee (note that Carissa would never drink coffee, so this really is a definitively different person). She types out a sentence only to huff and jam on the backspace key.
“You know you shouldn’t be here,” she writes and likes its ambiguity enough to continue.
You know you shouldn’t be here.
Thomas’s survival instincts flare to life with every creak in the old, wooden floorboards, but he ignores them. There’s something that called him back to his childhood house, standing abandoned for years. It’s now covered with graffiti tags and wreckage. He wonders why no one ever moved into it after they left.
He walks past the staircase, now punctured with holes and missing its banister. He can see himself bounding down the stairs with Anne close behind, jumping when they reached the third to last step to the ground. He can hear their giggling still echo off the walls and it teases up the hairs along his arms.
You shouldn’t have come. But you don’t want to leave.
The more he explores, the more he is pulled back to his sister. She lingers in the glass of an empty, chipped fish bowl, pushing her finger gently against the glass as Goldie wades closer to her. He knows she’s there when he goes past the piano and hears out of tune piano keys tinkling like raindrops.
She’s gone. I know she’s gone –
Alyssa pauses at that line and shifts uncomfortably. She can’t seem to strike the right pitch to get Thomas to an “I.” Perhaps it’s because she suffers with first person pieces. She prefers a level of distance; giving words to your own emotions could be so hard. Sometimes you need a narrator to describe what you’re feeling for you. Sometimes you need a narrator to give you the right words.
She highlights her last sentence and replaces it with a new one.
Something cold lances through Thomas’s stomach and makes him nauseous. Coming back was supposed to bring him closure. But I don’t (he didn’t) feel any at all.