The Writer writes for that’s all he knows. He gnaws at his pencil as all the ideas flood through him like the blood that courses through his veins. These words, these simple letters that he strings together into something beautiful, are all he has. They are like priceless jewels, so fragile, just one wrong word could shatter his masterpiece.
Every day he throws himself into his work, becoming completely immersed within his words. He sees paper as an empty canvas, and he craves nothing more than to fill every last inch of it. With every delicate stroke of the pencil, he knows he’s creating something extraordinary, or at least hopes so, because he knows his time is fleeing. He can feel the monstrous, cancerous growth that continues to fester inside, clinging to his lungs. 6 months, the doctor told him. Half a year, that’s all he has to create something lasting because God knows his life has been nothing but insignificant.
Born in a family of 5, he was the youngest, the odd number. He learned to make his presence scarce once he realized he wasn’t wanted. He was pretty young when he learned that the world was unforgiving and that not every voice truly mattered. His siblings were much older than him and preoccupied with their teenage shenanigans. His father had died in a car wreck when he was 6, and after that day, it seemed like he ceased to exist to his mother. Everyone always said he was the spitting image of his dad, so he believed that was the reason his mother never looked him in the eye anymore.
Too timid to vocalize his thoughts, The Writer spilled them onto the blue tethered journal his father gave to him before he died. When he felt lost, the rough, grainy sheets of white always reminded him that he was here. When his father handed him the notebook he said to ‘write without a filter’ so that’s what he did. He cursed at the cold midwestern winters. He praised warm, orange sunsets that illuminated his room every evening. He wrote a girl from his 5th-grade class, a love letter. In it, he justified why he stole her bright green eraser in class. It reminded him of her emerald eyes so he kept it under his pillow. He’d rub his thumb over it, the soft clay-like material bringing him peace. He hoped that she would ask for the eraser back and that they would laugh about it. He also hoped she’d tell him she loved his smile even though his mom said his teeth were crooked and ugly.
Every time The Writer heard the girl laugh or saw her smile he grew breathless. He thought he was dying because he’d never experienced that feeling before. She never acknowledged his presence though, even after the countless attempts he made to get on her radar. One day, toward the end of 8th grade, he gathered up the nerve to give her one of the numerous letters he’d written. He anxiously waited for the science class they shared together to see her reaction. He still remembered her face as he walked in. Everyone in that class smirked and looked over at her while she held back a smirk of her own, refusing to look him in the eye. Even now, the feeling of his ears ringing as the blood rushed to his face still haunted him. It was at that moment he realized that he was unlovable.
The Writer writes for it’s his only source of comfort. He’d learned that comfort was something that would never be given to him once he turned 15. His brothers and sisters had all left home, and his mother grew jaded. More often than not, she forgot his presence, and when she remembered it, she’d also roll her eyes at him with disdain. His mom was able to find comfort with a string of boyfriends, most of whom weren’t friendly. He thought that maybe their bitterness made her feel at ease because it mirrored hers. She was mad that dad died, he thought, and maybe dad had been her only real source of comfort. This made him realize that people leave, but words don’t, and the only way he’d feel comfort is if he finished a novel. He just wanted something lasting. He wanted a piece of himself on every bookshelf in the world.
Now he was 30 and had nothing to show for it.
He knew he was now approaching the last summer of his life. He knew as the lush garden in his yard slowly faded to hues of brown, he’d be taking his last breaths. He knew that his bucket list would never be completed before his death. He wouldn’t be able to go to Greece and write beautiful poetry about architecture. He’d never taste authentic pasta in Italy and write about the flavor exploding in his mouth. He’d never find the love of his life and write sonnets to serenade her. As the icy winds turned into a lazy summer breeze, he’d be getting his affairs in order and saying his final goodbyes. He had no choice but to accept that before his words could be solidified forever, he’d be deep beneath the ground.