It is funny the things a half-awake mind will think of. Like reeling from the buzz of a crazy dream, which, after a cup of coffee and a traffic report, you will have curiously forgotten. Me? I tend to criticize myself, rip myself to shreds upon waking.
I woke up absolutely in a sweat, and look at the clock. Eight forty two. My shoes stick out from under the heavy covers. Two Mary Janes, so much like wicked witch’s under all that bedding. Under my hand, a book – one of those racy, new-age ones – has been slightly bent out of shape. In my other, a fistful of crumpled papers. The moisture from my palm has made the scribbling almost illegible.
I sit up. Two lights are on, leaving the room bright and unfamiliar. Lights – especially those sick, scrutinizing white ones, have always had an adverse affect on me, making me sleepy, while the dark keeps me peculiarly awake. I wipe my eyes and read over the pages. Horrible. A modern day drama with a witty lead and a pathetic punk girl, spewing teenage angst, for a heroine. A finely tuned mix of staccato sentencing, buzz words and hip allusions. My characters are ‘outsiders’, ‘freaks’. In my dreams they take on a life of their own, but in reality, they are weak. They think, say, and do nothing. They are, like all modern-day film characters, sad, recycled products of an uninspired mind.
I take the papers, sheet by sheet, and ritualistically crumple them up. Most of them land in a pink wastebasket (Mauve, as my mother would say.) already heaped with identical paper balls. That was the fifth story I have thrown away this week.
A few hours prior, someone told me I was "a half-decent writer". At first I was taken back, shocked, and slightly insulted. Looking at the wastebasket, it almost seems like a compliment. Sometimes I think I have entered this writing business too eagerly. Perhaps I thought it was my only option. In teachers’ lounges, I have an impeccable reputation for bizarre intensity. And hell- it worked for my uncle. So why not me? I could have been a poet, lazily scrapping together lines of meaningless words. But not even the most new age of poets could see the heartshaking, unstruck depth in my lines, such as today’s discovery that all of the coffee mugs in our cabinet come from computer companies.
No, it was true; my stories of school days, fascist teachers, and college applications would never jump the high hurdles set for them. High hurdles based on a foundation of Salinger, Nabokov, and Welsh. Hurdles held up by the strong need to please and inspire others, as they had inspired me.
It was when I was groggily contemplating the cheery glow my portfolio would give off that I hit an idea. Rummaging through my nightstand, I found a piece of crushed paper, pulled the bedclothes over my legs and began to write.
At nine forty nine, I stopped. I looked back on my purple handwriting, elated by the fact that I had finally done it. I turned off the lights, kicked off my shoes, and went back to sleep.