A Variation on the Theme of Writer’s Block
Hmmm, what should I write about? I never can decide if I want to write an editorial or practice fiction. I like fiction better, it gives me a little more freedom, but then I have to actually come up with something. An op ed at least gives me a subject. But I like fiction. I think I’ll write a short story.
Ugh, why are short stories so hard? You have to have a beginning, middle, and end all right there! I’m a little bit better with long form. This is probably why I haven’t ever really been any good with poetry. But I’m pretty good with scene setting, and I usually am good with dialogue…let’s just try something and see where it goes. This is a scene that’s been bouncing around my head for a few days.
“What are you trying to say?”
I lifted the coffee mug to my lips, wrapping the question around the rim. The liquid inside rippled, a reflection of the tremble I felt in my whole body. I shouldn’t be drinking coffee at this hour. The evening showed through the windows with increasing persistence.
“I’m saying there are other options. I don’t think you’ve considered every angle.”
I shrugged, looking away and putting the mug down on the counter. When was the last time I wiped the counter?
“Would you like something to eat?”
She didn’t answer, which I took to mean yes. I opened the fridge door, staring dully inside. I had a few things to make sandwiches, some leftover soup from last week, some pieces of fruit. Fruit would be easiest. I grabbed an apple and placed it on the counter, changed my mind, and took out a plate. I placed the apple on the plate, its green skin already slippery with condensation. Why did I put the apples in the fridge? Everyone knows most fruit should be kept at room temperature. And biting into a cold apple was awful, especially for someone with sensitive teeth like mine.
Did she have sensitive teeth?
“Do you have sensitive teeth?”
She didn’t say anything. I found a cutting board and cut the apple into thin slices, arranging them artfully on the plate. It wouldn’t matter. She wouldn’t care. But I wanted to make the effort.
I brought the plate over to her, sitting down in the chair opposite. I lifted the plate, giving it a tiny jiggle of invitation. She just looked at me. I sighed, lowering the plate down to my lap. I took a slice and bit into it. I winced. It was still cold. But it was fresh and crunchy, and the bite of sour fruit was refreshing. I should just eat a green apple instead of drinking coffee.
I set down the half slice and picked up another, bringing it forward to her face. Her eyes never left mine, but she opened her lips. I slipped the fruit inside and she bit down. I saw a flash of her very white teeth. She chewed with her mouth closed, slowly. I felt silly holding the other half of the slice, but when she was finished she opened her mouth again and I gave her the rest. I wiped my fingers on my sweatshirt and finished my own slice.
We finished the apple together, taking turns. When we were done, I stood and took the plate to the sink. I poured the coffee out too. It wouldn’t make sense to finish it now. I left the coffee pooling in the plate and wandered out to the front of the house.
I was bored. I knew what I had been getting into, but this was glorified babysitting. Nothing was happening, and now I was just waiting to hear about the next step. I could read, I supposed, or watch television. Maybe she would want to watch something?
I went back into the split kitchen/dining room and walked up to her. She was always just watching me, like a cat. It made me nervous. Maybe it was the coffee, too, but I was still trembling a little.
“Did you want to watch something? I could turn on the television.”
She just looked at me.
“Or I could read? Aloud?”
She blinked, slowly.
“Fine.” I felt a little angry now. I knelt in front of her and tugged on the knots around her ankles, making sure they were secure. I stood and walked behind her, tested the cords that bound her to the chair.
“Then you can just sit there.”
I stalked out of the room and into the living room, plopping myself down on the soft sofa, wrapping my arms around my knees. I sulked.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s it. I can’t think of anything else. Where to go from here? I like the build up, but the follow through is so much more difficult. I have a tendency to think of vignettes, small, compelling scenes that I can’t fit into a bigger picture, because I don’t have a bigger picture. Oh well. That’s pretty good for now.