A few weeks ago I entered a writing contest. Today I found out my submission was not chosen to be part of the short story anthology. And since the story will not appear anywhere else, I hope you enjoy it. It's a little weird, but hey...it's art.
By Scott Taylor
The writer woke and crept to his writing desk. The noon-day sun blinded his hung over eyes as it blazed through the bedroom window. “Damn sun,” the writer cursed as he closed his bamboo blinds. Darkness flooded the room and the man’s mind breathed.
As the writer’s computer awoke from its hibernation, the writer’s gaze focused on a framed document gathering dust on a corner of his desk. An emotionless smile crossed the writer’s lips as he remembered again the day the single printed page arrived in the mail. Years had passed and other awards were bestowed, but the letter proclaimed his first national writing contest award winner—his first child, he often joked.
A gentle “bing” brought the writer to the present. Someone sent him an e-mail. When the writer accessed his e-mail program and read the electronic message, he thought he must still be drunk. “What the he…” The writer’s words stopped as if hitting a prison wall. “Who’s messing with me?” He asked no one.
The writer read and re-read the message and with each reading, he understood the e-mail less and less. The message came not from a person, but from a story…the first story he ever wrote. The simple message contained few words, “Writer, are you there?” The writer’s fingers, known to fly over the plastic keys, remained motionless.
The writer laughed nervously. The story existed only in the writer’s memory. The day the writer quit his law practice he took with him only a yellow legal pad and a pencil. For the next week the former lawyer became a writer. The hand-written story progressed with a lacking plot, fractured structure and undisciplined grammar. With the tale half-finished the writer took legal pad and threw it into the incinerator of the apartment building where he then lived. That was several years ago. In fact, the last time the writer even thought about the story was a year ago last Easter during a terrible bout with writer’s block. Once the literary obstruction was gone, so was the story.
But here it was, returned from his past, a past long dead. Quickly the writer searched his mind, wondering if he ever told anyone of the story. If he had, he could not remember who he might have told. He kept the story as secret as any in his life, but here it was, returned. The writer thought since he couldn’t explain the e-mail, he might as well play along.
“This is the writer, and yes, I am here,” he typed silently on his laptop. “So, you’re my first story. Why are you contacting me now?” The writer typed quickly, sent the e-mail immediately, and looked around his bedroom wondering when—if ever—he would receive a response. The darkened room annoyed him and just as he reached for the cords to allow light to enter his room once again, the softened “bing” returned. An answer had come.
“I have waited for you to return to me since you last thought of me at Easter time. I’ve returned to ask why you abandoned me.” The writer focused on the message’s final two words…abandoned me, abandoned me.
The writer did not respond straight away, but thought about the message. He shook his head as if to clear some unwanted spirit that had infected him. Had he abandoned the story? In the most blatant definition of the word he had indeed done so. But he could not have abandoned a thought, a memory, a dream created in his imagination. It still existed in his imagination…just not physical, not anymore.
The effects of the night before returned to the writer. His head swam as he began to compose an answer to the story’s question. Since his rational mind couldn’t comprehend a story actually coming to life and communicating to him through his computer’s e-mail, the writer thought he would go for broke.
“I abandoned you because I no longer had a use for you,” the writer typed vindictively. He used his words to hurt whatever entity existed on the other side of this digital world. Quickly the writer sent the message and began a new one on which to express more of his thoughts. “I took what I learned from you and moved on. If you want to know the truth, you had nothing else to offer me.” With an air of melancholy the writer hit “send.”
The writer shut his laptop disturbed at his thoughts. The story had returned to his consciousness and it haunted him. The story, written while the young ex-lawyer was drunk with bitterness over his failures, spoke of heartache and pain and despair. The writer discarded it; it reminded him of poor decisions. The writer slowly opened up his laptop computer and heard the familiar sound of an incoming e-mail.
“I knew of your success. I saw it and felt it and I cried when you cried after your first win. My heart burst as did yours when you opened the letter and read the words saying you were the contest’s best writer and I knew—as did you—that it meant the door would be open to even bigger opportunities, which it did. And I knew also that all these things would take you further from me…which it did.”
“What do you care?” The writer yelled into the empty room as he typed. “You shared my joy which means you must understand why I cannot return to you. I am happy now. I receive e-mails everyday from dozens—sometimes hundreds—of fans telling me how great my writing is. I cannot look back; I cannot return to who I was when I wrote you. You must accept where I am now, and where you are…and will always be.” The writer sent the message and as quickly as if the story were standing right beside him came the reply.
“Look at you now; you are the writer, the one who communicates to the masses, and yet, you turn your back on me, on your first love.”
“It was not love!” the writer yelled. “I created you out of pity. I never loved you. How could I? My life was Hell when you were with me! Your existence mocked me even as I wrote you! You were all that I hated about myself and I found satisfaction in destroying you! Why can’t you accept this?”
This time the response came not instantly, but after a few minutes had passed. “Will you ever return to me? Am I lost forever?”
The writer’s response took as much time as the story’s. “Maybe there will be a part of you that continues with me for as long as I am a writer,” the writer wrote. “We are connected by history and maybe you can still feel what I feel even though I have stopped thinking of you. I am so different than the writer you knew. I have grown so much. You cannot possibly know me now.”
As the writer finished his thought, something else came to him. “No, I don’t believe I will ever return, at least not as I am now. Maybe depression or another impediment will send me to you, but I will adamantly fight it. No…please consider this your last e-mail.” The writer sent his message somehow knowing it would be his last.
The e-mail arrived and the story felt a sadness coming from its maker. The story saw the writer reach into a desk drawer, retrieve a yellow legal pad and find a pencil from a collection near the framed award. The story knew the writer was beginning a new story, one that would one day reach more people than all his other stories combined. And with this knowledge the story disappeared forever.