30 September 2006

They Say I Should Write More...

They say I should write more. So I light a cigarette and try to find a way to tell them the well has dried up, that there aren’t any words left in this cracked vessel. I no longer carry water; the few precious drops of wine left quickly evaporating into the air. I sense them in the invisible spaces between my eyes and the wall, hear their faint rustling like wind in the trees, but I can no longer touch them, bend them into words written on pages. I take a drag of my cigarette and watch as the smoke exhaled draws shapes across the air, a paragraph here, a sentence there. I reach out for them, but come back empty-handed. They say I should write more, but the words I bond to paper with my pen flake off and float away.

My characters cry out against the famine engulfing them. They starve off little by little until there is hardly anything left, but the desiccated corpses of fictional characters. I remember somewhere a discussion I had with someone about the use of the present tense in describing the characters from a book because, though the author may be dead, their characters live on. I wonder about the half-formed, nameless ones lying on pages scattered about the floor, their empty, fleshless faces and vacuous eyes staring at the ceiling. Can they feel their immortality? Do they realize they are doomed to suffer an eternity of hell, only partially written, partially finished? Do they realize that even if I take all the pages of all the half-thoughts and momentary delusions I’ve written over the last few years and burn them that they, my incomplete creations, will still exist, still live and breathe, but only in the cracked forms I have given them?

A cry of anguish attempts to break out of my throat, but is cut off before it can be uttered. A sense of guilt knots itself into my stomach, and I know that I cannot leave them to this fate, that I must give birth to them, must breathe life into them regardless of my fears of imperfection and failure. I wonder did God, in attempt to write the Beginning, have such thoughts of failure? I wonder also if someone somewhere might not have burned me at the stake for uttering such blasphemies. I laugh for the first time in several days; a real laugh. It bridles against the sides of my mouth, dances around my tongue and escapes into the air. I watch it float off, holding tightly to the shape I’d given it, not willing to dissolve and become nothing. I feel its brothers and sisters, grief and anger and pain and joy dancing a mad dervish dance in the center of my being. I wait for the madman. He comes.

He whispers in my ear all the little details of a life that never was, of its loves and joys, its horrible end. I use the words to wrap around the breaches in my cracked vessel, use them to repair what was broken. I bond the words to my frame and grow fat on their blood. I hear the tale of a woman who lost her child to the wolves, only to be devoured by the same ravenous wolves and a hauntingly familiar wolf-child with her eyes. They circled her and leapt nipping her flesh until she could no longer stand. And lying there, bleeding on the ground, I approach and kneel as though genuflecting to lap up the pools of blood. I walk off as her cries and the cries of the wolves mingle into one song.

I pause before a window and watch as two lovers become one. My finger traces out their story on the windowpane. I wander off to find a man sitting in front of a typewriter smoking a cigarette, trying to find the words he has lost. I whisper in his ears till they bleed. I lick the small trickle of blood off his neck and settle down in the chair where he is sitting, my body becoming transparent, like smoke. I entwine myself in his limbs; feel his fingers become mine. I start to write…