He was standing on the edge. The edge of desire. The edge of his future. Smoking his last cigarette, thinking deeply, inhaling deeply -- exhaling -- the smoke curling around him in the dark night air. In his mind’s eye, he looked over his shoulder and saw his past laid out on the ground like a gutted trout. Organs of his failure glistening in the hot sun . . . He’d gotten himself into this. Neatly, he’d boxed-up his world of solitude. And, if he was lonely, whose fault was that? If his head hurt, and his hands cramped, and he was floundering in his own despair -- it was all part of the game, wasn’t it? Part of what must be endured.
When she was there -- before she’d left him to his own devices -- she’d kept him from his true desire. Oh, she was something, alright.
“Come on, Shakespeare,” she’d chided, disrupting his thoughts; the perfect combination of words flying out of his head. “Take a break, will you?” He’d look up from his magic fingers, wishing he could hit delete, and she’d be gone.
Be careful what you wish for . . .
It was true -- you can’t always get what you want. Last month, only days before she’d slipped out the-door-of-his-life, he’d watched her -- positively breathtaking -- as she swirled her glass of wine. Then she’d rolled her eyes to the heavens, and said to the small gathering, “My husband.” She’d flicked her eyes his way. “The writer.” Yes, he’d watched her at the reception, and it was he who was the bleeding man in her glass.
He sighed, closing his eyes to his past. Turning away from the gloomy night, he took a step forward, into the future, throwing the cigarette onto the ground and crushing the smoldering end with the heel of his brushed suede shoe.
His fingers quivered with anticipation as he reached for the doorknob. The knob turned. The door squeaked its complaint. The light from the house -- his house -- sliced through the night. His eyes fell immediately to the desk, to the neatly stacked pile of rejection letters, to the coffee cup sitting cold, lonely, and deserted near the open laptop. A few quick steps and he was there, running the tips of his fingers lovingly over the keyboard. The monitor jumped back into life. The words -- his words -- harsh and dark against the white, danced before his eyes. He sank down into the chair, picking up the gnawed pencil, and placed the eraser between his teeth; as was his habit. Letting the pencil dangle from his mouth, he stared despondently at the clouds in his coffee.
His eyes shifted to the whiteness of the monitor. He reached toward the light with shaking hands, and blacked out the words of the entire document, blackened them until the screen was dark -- as dark as the night outside his walls. Nodding his head, he pursed his lips in satisfaction. His index finger hovered momentarily, like a tiny helicopter, over the delete button. Then, with an exact movement, his finger descended. The monitor stared back, bright and harsh and white in its nakedness.
He stared at the harshness a moment before removing the pencil from his mouth and throwing back his head with a hysterical hyena laugh. Reaching for the coffee, he slugged down the cold brew, cringing in pure disgust. Then, the pencil back between his lips, he hit the undo button, and laughed again when his words magically reappeared. As the pencil moved up and down in his mouth, “click, click, click,” against his teeth, he moved the cursor to the end of the document and began to write.