Near 500 words: TW Goes Missing In Action

TW (aka The Writer) walked around the house, looking for the robin. It was nowhere to be found. It had lit out for parts unknown. Then he realized that there was no birds filling the spring morning with their song. They seemed to be missing in action.

TW sighed and headed back in doors. As he opened the kitchen door, Cat dashed outside.”You’re on your own today, Buddy. I’m not waiting on you out here on the porch. I just don’t have it in me.”

Cat gave him on of those looks that cat owners known may just mean trouble.

“Okay.” There was a resignation in his voice. “Let me get a cup of coffee.” He filled the Keurig with water and waited.  As he did, he thought of the lines he had written. He had the next sentences worked out until the robin showed up. The water was hot. He popped the cup into the Keurig and poured his coffee into his Grumpy mug. Then he grabbed his kindle and sat down on the back porch.

Cat was giving him the eye. “What took you so long?”

TW lifted the mug to his lips and sipped and ignored the cat. He just wasn’t in the mood.

Cat, being Cat, sensed her human just wasn’t in the mood for their usual game. She came over to him, gave him a consoling meow and laid her body across his feet.

Sitting in the chair, TW realized he didn’t have the energy for writing. Cat’s body felt warm across his bare feet as he waited for his mood to pass. An hour passed and his cup was empty and his mood had not passed. He mustered up the energy, reached down, pushed Cat off his feet, then he stood up. “Let’s go inside.”

Cat followed TW into the house. He rinsed out the mug and sat it in the sink, then he went back into his office and sat down at the computer. He looked at the lines he had written.

It was the week after Mrs. Dish ran away with Mr. Spoon. All because of the Cat and the Fiddle. They had introduced the two at a company picnic. On top of that, Cat had jumped over the moon.

Then he typed. Jack sat on the stool beside the cow. Maudie was being cooperative as Jack squeezed her teat. The warm milk…

TW stopped. Then he jumped up and hurried to the hall closet. He reached and pulled down a cardboard box. He dropped the ingredients on the floor and there it was.

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Near 500 words: TW sees a robin

Now you might think that a robin would not make TW (aka The Writer) stop his writing. After all, he finally had several sentences. “It was the week after Mrs. Dish ran away with Mr. Spoon. All because of the Cat and the Fiddle. They had introduced the two at a company picnic. On top of that, Cat had jumped over the moon.” And that was a nice start. With lines like that, he could take the story anywhere it wanted to go.

You might think that a robin would not remind TW of his ex-wife, Sylvia. He had not seen her in a beaucoup number of years. And he hadn’t thought about her in quite some time. It was only late at night when she came to mind. When he couldn’t sleep and when he was tired. Most nights he was a sound sleeper and he had nary a trouble going off to Slumberland.

And he wasn’t the lonely type. He felt his life was full. He had a good job. At the library. He had the few friends he needed when he wanted companionship. When it came to sex, he wasn’t that sex-starved.

For him, sex was more of a hassle than a pleasure. From observations he had made over the years, he had seen how much misery it brought to others. The people he knew would date. Then one thing led to another and pretty soon there was trouble.

But there had been that one woman he had dated for six months. Helen was her name. When he made up his mind to propose, she told him she had fallen in love. And the guy she had fallen in love with was not TW. So he swore off dating.

The ten years since had been one long routine. But he was a routine kind of guy. And now This. He starts his novel after battling a case of near-writer’s-block and he gets a lo- and-behold. Like he occasionally said, “Life can be a shit sandwich.”

Then a case of what Holly Golightly called “the mean reds” came over him.Tears rolled down his eyes. Suddenly he missed Sylvia, and he missed her more than he had ever thought he would. He missed those first few weeks when Sylvia was the world. He missed her soft, soothing voice. He missed her short brunette curls. He missed the palm of her hand running across his face. He even missed the piles of messes she left behind in the living room and the bed room.

He looked down at Cat. “You would like Sylvia. She was your kind of person.”

TW stood up, walked through the kitchen, opened the door and went out onto the back porch. He looked at his window and the tree nearby. The robin was gone.

The robin was gone.

Near 500 words: TW’s Search For His Novel

Sunday morning, post-Cat-feeding and post-breakfast, TW (aka The Writer) was back at his computer. With Cat snuggled on his feet, he looked at the last thing he had written the night before.

“This is the first chapter. And there will be a lot more from where that came from. Monkey looked at Shark and fired his gun. The bullet hit its target, Shark’s heart.”

“Who is this Monkey? Who is this Shark?” he asked himself out loud. He didn’t have a clue. Then he decided that this would not do. There was no inspiration, no Muse in it. It was just a bunch of dead words on the page the way that Shark was dead.

And Sylvia would know it.

Where did that come from? It had been a month of Sundays since he had thought about Sylvia. She had been gone for twenty-three years and now he caught himself thinking about her. Was she his Muse? Was she the one who would show him the way to write a novel? The last he had heard from her was a letter some five years ago. She was living some place in the Himalayas. Some place called an ashram. And the people there had proclaimed her a guru.

Imagine that. Sylvia once upon time was an atheist. Now the folks were saying she was some kind of saint or some such. Her letter had said that the locals thought of her as the incarnation of a goddess.

If she was a goddess, why couldn’t she help him with his novel? That wasn’t much to ask.

He erased the words from the previous day. Then he leaned back in his chair and ran his hand over his bald head. He looked down at Cat. She stared up at him with those eyes of hers. Eyes that told him how smart she was and how caring. “Yep, still no hair,” he said to the big green eyes.

Maybe I’d better get a cup of coffee.

Nope, not going to do it. I have to earn it. I have to write that first paragraph. Otherwise I will sit here all day and bore myself to death. Didn’t that sound like fun?

He looked out his window into the back yard. It was a nice day. Maybe he should go for a walk.

Nope, not going to do it.

He looked over at his bookshelf. He reached over and pulled a volume off the shelf. Without searching, he opened the book to a page. He perused the page and it hit him. He knew just what he should write. He slid the book back into place and turned to his computer and began to type.

It was the week after Mrs. Dish ran away with Mr. Spoon. All because of the Cat and the Fiddle. They had introduced the two at a company picnic. On top of that, Cat had jumped over the moon.

TW stopped there and looked down at Cat. “You think you could jump over the moon?”

Cat didn’t move. She purred away in her sleep. TW thought she was far away in some sort of cat dream world.

Through his window came a chirping sound. He turned to see a robin just outside of his window. “Sylvia?”

Near 500 words: TW gets married

TW (aka The Writer) met Sylvia at a party. When they saw each other, it was lust at first sight.

“Let’s get out of here,” she said, five minutes into their conversation.

“Let’s,” he said, neither unable to resist nor wanting to resist.

After two months, they took off to Vegas for a quickie marriage. They didn’t leave their room for the gambling tables the whole three days they were there. It was room service and sex.

After a few months, they realized they had gotten themselves into a real mess. He was a nester and she was a traveller. He was a perfectionist, she didn’t care if she messed up. He was neat, obsessively so. She left things scattered everywhere.

One night she said, “Let’s take off and go to Timbuktu.” She had a thing for Africa.

“Are you crazy?” he said. “I can’t leave my job. I love my job. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“What you do is boring.” There was sarcasm in her voice. “You want to be a writer? You have to go out and experience the world. Like Hemingway. Your hero.”

“Yeah, right. I’m going to run the bulls.”

“Why not? It’s better than sitting on your butt in a library, waiting for some student to ask a question they don’t really want to know the answer to.”

“That’s not all I do. Libraries are the repository of all knowledge.

“Don’t give me that. You need to experience the world instead of reading about it in some book.”

“Those books have pictures too.” It was a dumb thing to say but he had said it.

“But you can’t taste or hear or smell those places. Can you?”

“You’re going to pick up and leave? Just like that?”

“You betcha.”

“I thought you liked nursing,” he said, desperate to change her mind.

“I do. But I can be a nurse anywhere and at anytime.”

“So you’re just going to leave me here?”

“You got a choice. Leave with me and have the time of your life. Or stay and play with yourself. But I’m going.”

The next morning she was packed. The cab picked her up just before he left for work. She opened the door to the taxi, then looked back at her husband. “Hold on a second,” she said to the driver, then hurried back to TW. The two embraced and kissed.

“I’m going to miss you,” she said.

She ran and jumped into the cab. Tears were in her eyes, and they were in his eyes too.

The taxi pulled away from the curb and headed down the street.

Then he said, “Maybe I should have gone too.”

He opened the door of the house and went inside. He scanned the room. Such a mess she had left behind.

“I definitely should have gone.”

Near 500 Words: TW starts a novel

TW (aka The Writer) was a short story man. Over the years, he had written short stories. And not of one genre. There were science fictions, romances, mysteries, literaries. He had written flash fiction. He had written long stories. He had written novellas. But nary a novel. Novels scared TW.

And not just scared. I’m talking white knuckle fear. It was the kind of fear some actors experience before they go on stage. And more.

TW had read all the books on stage fright. There were three. Almost as many as there were on writer’s block.

Recently he had decided that he was determined to take this psychosis head on. It was time to lay some happiness on himself. Since he was a kid knee high to a grasshopper, he had believed only a novel would fulfill him as a writer. Here he was fifty-three years old and still no novel.

To put him in the right mood, he re-read his two favorite novels by his two favorite writers: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

Now it was time to write that novel. Today was the the day. It was Saturday. His day off. At eight a.m. his eyes popped open. But it was from the anticipation of writing the novel. Cat was letting him know that it was feeding time.

He wiped any leftover sleep from of his eyes. He pulled himself out of bed. And fed Cat. Then he let her outside.

It was a beautiful day. The air was cool and the sun shined. Flowers were blooming. A bird or two scooped through through the water of the birdbath and refreshed themselves.

It seemed like a perfect day to enjoy the outside.

Start the novel. Start the novel. Start the novel.

TW swore, “Okay, okay.”

After an hour of running around in the yard, chasing lizards, rolling in the dirt, chewing on the grass, Cat came to the back door and patiently waited for it to be open. Either she was ready for her treat or she had to litter the litter box.

He opened the door. It was the litter box. Then the treat.

So now it was breakfast time, then his writing session. After an omelet, he looked at the dishes stacked in the sink. I should wash them.

He reached over for the sink faucet.

Hold on, you have a novel to write.

“But what about the dishes?”

The dishes can wait.

He went into the bathroom and brushed his teeth and washed his face. Then he realized he didn’t have anything to wear for work on Monday.

Write the novel.

“But it’s only ten o’clock. I’ve got time.”

Write the novel.

From the kitchen came a meowing.

“I’d better let Cat out.”

She’s already been out. Write the novel.

TW took his seat at the desk and booted his computer up.

The doorbell rang.

Ignore it. Write the novel.

“But–”

Write the novel.

He looked at the clock. How did it get to be eleven o’clock?

Write.

“Okay, okay.”

TW looked at his computer screen and opened his browser to check his email.

Write the novel.

He gave his conscience three okays, then opened a blank document on his word processor. He saved the document and named it “My Novel.”

He looked at the blank screen. He thought and thought and thought and nothing came. He’d always been a seat-of-the-pant when it came to short stories and poetry. And he always had ideas up the wazoo. But today, the first day of writing his novel, his mind went blank.

He finished his first cup of coffee, then a second, then a third. Then he started getting desperate. The document was still blank. Very blank.

About the time he was going to give up, he typed, “This is the first chapter. And there will be a lot more from where that came from. Monkey looked at Shark and fired his gun. The bullet hit its target, Shark’s heart.”

“There. Are you satisfied?”