This is not a story for writers. Hell, this isn’t even a story for people who like to read about writers. This is a story about people. So, in a way, this is a people’s story. And since people care about reading about other people, since they feel they can identify with them, then this story is for the people.
A writer and a friend are sitting together in a dark room. The room is completely empty with the exception of two stools. The stools are arranged next to each other as two parallel lines that will never touch.
The writer looks down – literally and figuratively – as he contemplates the black floor while his right hand probes for a drink. But he remembers the room doesn’t have a table or a bottle or even a glass to pour the drink if one existed. Yet his hand still probes for a drink.
The friend’s face is lit up, lit up in the dimness of the atmosphere and the scenery. His expression catches fire every time the wind eases up a bit, like a combustible solution exposed to air. He puts a hand around the writer and starts:
‘It’s been nearly 2 years. You can’t stay down like this. You have to get up and carry on eventually.’
‘You’re pushing it,’ the friend says. ‘It’s not supposed to be like this. At the end of the day she’s just another girl.’
Just another girl? No, she wasn’t just another girl…
‘This girl,’ the writer says, ‘when it comes to this girl, I’m fucking merciless.’
‘You mean you were fucking merciless.’
No. When it comes to this girl, I’m fucking merciless and unpardonable. I can still see her walking down a street or entering a mall with another guy around her arm and come up to them and beat the shit out of that tyke. Without even knowing who he is or where he comes from. There’s just this anger bottled up that seems to spill out when I think of this girl being handled by another man.
The writer senses his friend is not following him. So he says:
‘Nobody likes to see their words burn down in flames. But sometimes you just have to sit there and take it like a man.’
‘This is the fucking biz now,’ the friend says. ‘You have to take it as a writer and a human being. The girl is gone now but you still have your writing in the palms of your hands. Don’t let it slip.’
‘Normally I try to refrain from telling a girl I like that I am a writer. I try to hide it or delay it as much as I can so that I don’t scare her off too quickly. But this girl, this girl knew my innards and could see through them from the get-go. She seemed to like the devil in me and wanted to entertain him. She had a thing for accidents and car crashes, but that’s only because she was a damn good driver.’
‘You don’t see many of those in this lifetime,’ the friend chimes in. ‘Those are rare souls you normally fight to hold on to.’
‘I’ve pushed many girls off a cliff for a few nice words. I’ve even traded them for simple lines just to make sure they could stand on their own. I don’t trust editors very much. They never seem to look after you. But a good girl, a good girl knows your interest long before you can spot it – even a girl that doesn’t know her way around the books and the word can tell the writer his heart before he discovers it. She can push him around and man-handle him until he gets down to it and creates. And that’s why when she leaves she takes the whole crate with her – passion, inspiration, creativity. At first you wonder what you’re missing the most: you’re unsure if it’s the crate or the person that took it away. Then a while later you’re positive it’s the crate. But not long after that – a few years’ worth of time – you know it’s really the girl you’re aching for.’
‘Powerful stuff,’ the friend says, now inexplicably holding his right arm up in the air and waving strangely with it.
‘Can you actually die of heartbreak?’ the writer asks morosely.
The air suddenly gets chilly.
The friend searches for the writer’s face in the darkness of the room and when he finds it, tells him, ‘Friend, it’s the only real death there is.’
The writer shakes his head and reaches for his wallet in his back pocket with his left hand. His right hand, meanwhile, is still looking for the missing drink in the room.
He takes out his wallet and opens it. Inside is a small photograph of the lost girl – a passport picture of her bright face and feather earrings. He stamps his fingers all over the picture as if trying to feel it and retrieve the emotion from it. The emotion that was washed away with that face.
The picture feels hot in his hand. It’s burning up and being consumed by its own flame. In a matter of seconds it’s nothing but dust and ashes. Sacred ash from the tombstone of his heart.
The friend is now watching the writer and imitating the movement of his right hand. His own hand is now going up and down, left and right, probing for a missing drink in the empty room.
His heart meanwhile tells him his friend is right: life divides between love and commitment, between passion and dedication, between romance and inspiration. He too longs for a good girl he lost or perhaps has never known. But he feels her presence in this lifetime, her absence from the timeline of his life – he feels something is missing in this room, or rather this room is missing something.