Working with Words (fiction)
After 6 weeks, I’ve finally finished up the research needed for my novel. All I had left were the characters to create and they tended to be a spiritual something that came to me along the way. Somehow, in this moment, they were lost to me. In the chasm of writing, a lot of time is spent staring at the computer screen without actually seeing it, delving into the inner sanctum of years of knowledge and experience to find the right fit for the topic. With a flourish, I typed the last sentence, hit save, and closed the program.
Soothing the aching muscles in my neck, I let out a significant yawn and gazed blindly at the clock. How long had I been at it? How long had I been researching and writing? My face was shrouded by the misty blue haze of the laptop screen in front of me, and I glanced at the keys to the keyboard no longer indicating the letter placement after a few years of punishing treatment. I looked again at the clock on the monitor, 5:18 AM. Holy cripes, no wonder I was exhausted. I’d been up for almost two days straight. What even happened in that time? Oh, the boyfriend came over for a while. He slept in my bed yesterday while I was delving into stories about homicide statistics, meth and heroin side effects, and listening to my recorded interviews with family members. I envied him the ability to detach from the darker side of life.
My boyfriend, he comes and goes. He likes to talk to me even when I’m writing and he knows I’m not quite listening, yet he talks and talks about astrophysics and universal time theories, how awed he is by the mere size of the universe. Just to have another human kind of hearing him speak, is significant to him, and I tend to absorb a few of his quips and a little of his undeniable wit into my writing. It’s like subliminally listening. Tricks of the mind can be quite useful when working with words.
I closed the monitor and stood up with another yawn, this time accompanied by a very satisfying, cat-like stretch, winding my hand through long blonde hair, pulled back from my face. I pushed my feet firmly into my worn down purple fuzzy slippers, and I shuffled almost blindly to the kitchen, opening the refrigerator. Another yawn escapes me. Goodness, I’m too tired to eat anything. The refrigerator door shuts with a depressing little thud and I pad my way to my bedroom, pushing back the blankets of the unmade bed, at the same time kicking off my slippers, before falling into my own little fort of happiness.
My dreams are made of random things… like running from dogs and climbing trees.
I wake up to the stifling brightness of midday, cutting through the fog of my dreams to bring me conscious. I rifle for my cell phone, a constant in the pocket of my robe, to glance at the time. 2:12 pm. I never sleep for this long, no matter how deprived. It was the sleep of completion. I love it when one of my stories reaches this first milestone. Research is the part I like the least.
Making my way out of the comfort oasis known as my bed, I peel off my robe, letting it drop carelessly onto the bedroom floor before hobbling toward the bathroom. The coffee pot starts grumbling out of nowhere, making me literally jump and scream. As I glance into the living room of my small apartment, I see the boyfriend sitting comfortably on the second hand couch I can’t seem to part with. Looking up from his iphone, he gives me a lazy smile and gestures to the kitchen, indicating coffee, his eyes happily absorbing my face as if he can’t get enough, even with slumber written all over me. I blow him a kiss, nod, and head toward the bathroom once more.
I couldn’t get the subject matter of my new story out of my head as I pushed back the shower curtain and started the scalding hot jet stream known as my shower. Fiction still needed truth and life to the facts held within. You can’t write a story about a drug addict without knowing more about the struggles. The facts and figures of heroin overdose astounded me. More than that though, were the stories of the families I’d interviewed who had lost loved ones. It was all so serious, all so heartbreaking. As I pulled my Pink Floyd T-shirt over my head, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, the humidity from the hot shower flooding through the small room. Obviously I need a vacation. I need to relax. Writing about serious stuff always gets me down and uptight all at the same time.
Stepping into the shower was such a relief. I suds up my hair and I let my thoughts go, as the heat of the water cleanses me of all the worries I seem to have accumulated along the way, even if it’s only a temporary reprieve. A few moments later, upon rinsing the rest of the soap from my body, I hear the door creak open and a cool blast of air. I glance out from behind the shower curtain to see the boyfriend in his birthday suit with a cute little grin on his face. He sneaks in behind me, pulling the curtain closed, and, without speaking, runs his hands along my tense muscles, soothing the aches all over my body, searching and seeking all the places he knows well. Words mean nothing here, as I drop to my knees and show my appreciation for afternoon coffee, companionship, and comprehension. No writing, no speaking, just love. Temporary reprieve indeed.
Afterwards, we slowly get dressed, although of course he’s always faster than I. He ruffles his hair carelessly in the mirror after wiping the fog away with the back of his hand, and looks at me lovingly. He gives me a grin, a smooch, and a smack on the ass, his simple way of being endearing, before giving me my bathroom space. I finish getting ready in jeans, a black t-shirt, and a ponytail, heading out to the kitchen for coffee and finding it ready for me. The boyfriend was gone, but he left me a note with a heart and his name scrawled neatly across the middle. The P.S. reading “good luck writer girl.” Oh if only he knew how much I needed that lovely little push.
I head to the store for groceries. I visit my friend Paula who just had surgery. I go about my daily activities with gusto, my stories and writing never far from my mind. My morning “getaway” with the boyfriend helped to fuel my positive spirit for the day. We don’t see each other as much as we’d like, but dreams are bigger sometimes. He’s working to discover all he can about the known universe and I live within the confines of a writers heart and mentality. Somehow, someway, we’re perfect for each other. And we’ve been that way for 3 years, very happily.
Thinking about him throughout my day kept me more cheerful than I’d been in a while, however, the main characters of my stories still had yet to be developed. I’d been in the research phase for a couple of months now. It was time to take it to the next level and start thinking up what kind of dark-sided and slightly twisted character would run the show.
I was contemplating what type of bad boy character I was looking for, sitting at a table in my favorite cafe, raspberry mocha, chocolate chip scone, and my notepad sitting in front of me, when in walked biker guy. I knew by his swagger and appearance, he portrayed the vision I wanted to create. I could feel my body respond to him instantly and he hadn’t even looked in my direction yet. Spring day, he had pulled up on a silver and red Harley, leather chaps over tight blue jeans, tattoos decorating his muscular, divinely tanned arms, and a black t-shirt so tight you could see every muscle, ridge, and nuance of his torso. As he walked in, he glanced around, sunglasses shielding his eyes, until the moment he gazed around the dark corner where I was sitting, off to the side, and he lifted the sunglasses to prop them on his head. Those eyes were an unsettling shade of blue, piercing right into me. He had this way of looking at me as though he were assessing his prey, before looking away and walking to the counter to order. Odd that a biker guy would frequent this coffee shop, geared more toward the hipsters and new-agers. Yet, it’s almost as if I conjured him up with my dreams.
My eyes followed biker guy around the room, but I tried to be covert. The last thing I needed was some pompous, controlling guy getting the wrong idea. Although, that made my mind wander toward what the wrong idea would be like. That man had some strong thighs, big hands, and…
I looked around for him again, realizing my active imagination made me lose his location. I glanced outside to see his motorcycle still out front, and that’s when I heard his voice, deep and husky, in my ear. “Is there something about me you find particularly interesting? Because I’m willing to satisfy a pretty girl’s curiosity.” It made me jump about a foot, as I stood up quickly, turned around, and saw biker guy, coffee in hand, sitting casually in the chair behind me, an amused and somewhat smug look on his face, knowing he got the reaction he expected.
Trying my best to pull it together, my heart racing a million miles a minute, I tried to think quickly through the fog that was panic and said the first thing that came to mind, “I want you.”
That was not at all what I wanted to say, but that’s what came out of my mouth and the next thing I know, I’m pinned down to a table, his hands in my hair, arms tightly around me, his mouth pressed hard on mine. My leg comes up and wraps around his hip, pulling him as close to me as possible, the few other patrons of the cafe likely scandalized and gasping at the fiery display of passion taking place in such a public arena. When the kiss is finally over, he picks me up and takes me outside to his motorcycle and tells me he’s going to whisk me away from a life of mere novel writing. He wants to give me the world for the heat between my thighs. We’ll hop on the motorcycle and I’ll write about biker gangs and we’ll go to Europe (cause he’s also a millionaire, I’ve found out within the last 5 seconds) and get married and live happily ever after cause you’ve got the right stuff, baby. Wait. What?
My phone is ringing, New Kids on the Block screeching about the right stuff, pulling me back to reality.
And that’s when I wake up out of my daydream about the supposed bad boy character this writer girl needs to come up with, based off the tough looking man ordering a non-fat latte at the counter of “Olaf’s Coffee” in small town America. I already turned him into a knight in shining armor, a feminists- would- shit version of a man coming to the rescue within 15 minutes of his arrival. THAT was why I keep struggling to write a novel based on a junkie with a shady past. I even want to believe the best in the characters in my own writing.
Biker guy grabs his drink (non-fat latte? really?) from the barista, glances in my direction with a nod and a pleasant smile, and sits outside, not behind me with some random intent to seduce me, as my overactive imagination would have me believe.
Optimism is eternal. This might take a while.