Written in first-person. A young writer with a troubled past finds solace and inspiration with an unlikely group of artists bent on film-making. She offers to write a script for them, the one thing they lack, and soon finds herself overwhelmed by supernatural forces that bring her imagination too readily off the page.
I needed a hook. I knew what I wanted to write about. In my head, I was nurturing characters, forming a semblance of plot and even pondering symbolism. And yet, I felt unable to put my pencil to the page without a hook.
No, it wasn't rational of me. I could always add a good hook later, when I typed it up. However, I'm stubborn. Compulsive. It had to be in order. It had to be here.
I felt camouflaged, here.
I was a flower they would not smell; would not pick.
It was a café for thirty more minutes. But thereafter, it was to be a club. The thirty-somethings sipping coffee will dwindle away, and the students will show up. Half are always high-schoolers sporting fake ID.
I'm not that kind of person. It's not my kind of scene.
And I suppose that's why I blend in with the furniture. Writing away at the edge of the bar, on the stool in the corner, I was a permanent fixture in this establishment. Unseen. Unnoticed. Ignored.
On a more cynical day, I'd reason that it's because I was the only one who wasn't dressed in a flashy and provocative way. They're here to date. I was here to write. They're here to mate. Urges, wants and needs. Addictions.
My needs can't be met here.
I fear the one night stand.
The lights began to spin. Smoke emerged from places unseen. The music began to transcend. Lights went dim, save for the flickering at the bar side.
Across from me, Kevin lit candles. He poured drinks and counted change. And in those moments in between, he read what I wrote yesterday.
I tell myself that I've never been raped.
I could feel it. I could smell it. The mood was emerging. People were dancing. Bodies were swaying. Fast and slow. Perfume and cologne here and there, beside stifled sweat.
As a storyteller, I am accustomed to lying.
Inspiration was drawn anew. It throbbed in my veins with every beat of the music. A sip of my root beer. This was why I was here. Calm amidst the storm. The cocktail syndrome. Ephemeral escapism. The pencil moved across the page, sliding into my hand.
A red firetruck pulled up along the side of the street.
I crossed my legs, looked around. Took it all in. My lips formed words that spoke against the booming lyrics of the room. For a moment, I had found something and, something had found me.
The door opened, and a young man walked in. I recognized him, as I recognized many other local faces amongst the crowd. Neighbours. Classmates. Drop-outs.
This young man had been infamous in senior year. He'd have been handsome if he had smiled more often. His long, naturally straight brown hair would have been worthy of envy if he'd bothered to shower more than once a week.
He took the stool beside me, wearing nothing over his wrists to shelter the scars from scrutiny. Just seeing him made me sad, in a helpless and sympathetic way.
I knew what kind of man he was. Too sensitive, some might say, for his own good. A loner, whose only friend was a box of tissue. A friend that always cared. Tears, mucose, blood and semen. The tissues always cared. They always listened.
His eyes were blue. My pencil froze. It was cold.
His shirt was beige. My throat was dry. I could see his ribcage.
His chin was marked. I tried to look away. He had cut himself, shaving.
His face was pale. My page was blank. I had only scrawled one syllable.
Of which word?
My inspiration had parted.
Kevin was busy with another customer.
He smiled at me, eyes not even straying towards modest cleavage. The candles flickered a reflection in his eyes.
I couldn't even remember his name.