Friday, October 19, 2012


You wrote.

To vent. To make sense. To find a way to explain how you could be so ridiculous? You wrote to process, to tell a story. Did that really happen?.

All those words written. Done and done. Purge, the purpose. A retching of poison, a letting of blood. Get back in that bed you made. Lie, lie, lie.

Shame and guilt, a foundation of sand. Drape them in indigo and call them humor. Self-defecating. No, that's not right.

Wasn't that story milked dry, emptied of energy anyway?

The words, left in the sun, faded on the printed pages.The files deleted - some on purpose. Others? It's not called a crash for nothing.

Tucked away now where it can't hurt you or anyone else.

Time passes. Words fade. Memories muddy. Sharp edges soften.

Then something happens. Something strange. Strange because you don't believe in signs unless they're convenient and fit your current internal narrative. Which compounds your cynicism and confirms your inability to believe. Faith is always just out of your reach. The mystical residing well beyond your pedestrian imagination.

It's just another day at the office. You're in the break room looking at the books on the swap shelves. Hoping to find something to hold your son's interest among the Harlan Cobens, Stephen Kings, Lisa Scottolinis, James Pattersons and Agathas.

You reach for a book. The Raft of the Medusa. It's a familiar title, but you don't know a thing about the story so you sit on the floor and read the dust jacket. Oh, right. It was a painting you studied in art history. By Gericault, the painter upon whose life the novel is based. You start to put the book back on the shelf. Not at all your son's type of story.

And that's when a book falls off the shelf and lands on the carpet next to you.

You look around. This is a joke, right? How is it possible that this book, this very book would be stuck among the thrillers and mysteries? But then, no one here knows that long-buried story. No one here would play that joke.

You think anew about the faded words on those dusty, ignored pages. Raw material for a story that time has made more relevant, not less. A new vein opens, begging to be mined. You pick the book up from the floor and stand. Hesitate next to the trash can wondering.

Have you learned from your mistakes? An Oscar Wilde quote tries to come back to you, but gets batted away as a colleague rounds the corner and enters the kitchen.


  1. About ten years ago I read the brilliantly titled book, 'The Betrayal Bond' by Patrick Carnes. It's old enough that it may be out of print now (like so much else) but if you ever come across a copy on the office shelf you'd probably enjoy it too. There's nothing like having some extra grist for the literary mill next time the urge to write strikes.

    1. You know how I love grist, susan. I'll look for THE BETRAYAL BOND.

  2. Write it! Whatever it is, finish it. Then you can rewrite as necessary.

  3. You ask too many questions. I think you're a plant for the DHS.

    No one learns from their mistakes. We just flub more artfully, or more secretly, the next time.

    1. You're on to me, Randal. Except it's not the DHS.

    2. You misunderstand R.G.

      He's referring to the Department of Habitual Slayer.

  4. That was spectacular. Go forth and write.

    1. Thank you, Teri. I see more writing and less sleeping in my future.

  5. you've already started--this is the prologue, yes?

    i've been thinking about going back to my short form--my column. maybe. it's just an idea that showed up when i couldn't sleep one night last week, sometime around 1:30 and 4:00 a.m.

    (i wish i could say it was a book that inspired the thought, but i'm pretty sure it was VH1's couples therapy.)

    isn't there something so very thrilling when a book literally falls off a shelf???

  6. Gorgeous! The universe is trying to tell you something. And if you don't believe the universe, listen to your friends and keep writing.



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