Posted: July 6, 2014 in My Fiction Closet
Tags: , , ,

The cursor blinked with the frequency of every clock in the world. Once every second. Sixty blinks a minute. Three thousand six hundred flashes an hour. Eighty-six thousand four hundred times a day. It seemed like it had blinked awfully close to that number of times as Patrick sat staring at the nearly blank screen. Six sentences he had written, or seven, but could he count the incomp– There’s the cursor again. Flashing, reminding, urging and blocking all at once. Coming up with a name for the main character had always been a problem. Should he just use his own name as a place holder and replace it later with CTRL+F? That was the easiest solution, of course, but those characters inevitably took on all the subtleties of him, the writer. He didn’t want to be too politically correct with the name choice because then the character seemed too plastic, like Maria and Omar from the eighth grade math books. Maria and Omar bought four tickets with a twenty percent discount. They spent $200 after the discount. How much did… He wondered if Patrick wasn’t too childish. Don’t Patricks all grow up and become Pats?

Pat thought that there must be some way to turn the cursing blinker off. Maybe turn it into a dim red light or a piece of fruit. He imagined those solutions would prove futile and that the terms cause and effect were eternally convoluted with the annoyance of the blinking and the block. Was it the damned cursor, egging him on, causing the lack of plot? Or was it the other way around – the block causing him even to notice the flashing vertical line? One second. One second. One second…

Pat refused to get cancer or to lose his keys. His stubborn sister refused to call with any news, good or bad. His boss refused to fire or promote him. In fact, the only thing in Pat’s life that seemed willing to urge on the development of the plot that was his eventless life was that damned blinking cursor. Okay. Enough with the blinking, he thought. He needed a break, an aspirin and a plot.

Pat had been told when he was young that writing early in the morning with a cup of coffee and a cigarette was best. Pat didn’t smoke or drink coffee. Still, he thought that seemed like a wonderful idea, so he always wrote around eleven in the morning when he woke up either slightly hung over or strangely energized despite the previous night’s drinking. He woke up early occasionally and accidentally, but never remembered to open the laptop in these rare cases. On this particularly late morning he was in fact slightly more hung over than usual, but he thought he would give it a try anyway. Today, as on many mornings recently, he just couldn’t get the words to come out. The phrase “writer’s block” repeated over a loud speaker in the empty auditorium of his mind, sustaining itself by its very being in the first place. And still the cursor flashed.

He imagined tiny flashing aliens, busily scurrying about a cartoon construction site: industrious, little, green beings in hard hats, blinking into and out of existence every second as they maneuvered steel beams and concrete slabs with yellow cranes, erecting an awkward wall haphazardly across the street. The fat foreman sipped his coffee and smoked his cigarette as he scrutinized the unintelligible blueprints, the picture of productivity. The workers called out to each other across the chaos in a high-pitched language unintelligible to Pat. Communication was limited to one second transmissions in accordance with the aliens’ existential frequency. The absurd barricade grew with each ill-fitting piece and misplaced screw as the day dragged onward. Before the little creatures knew it, the sun was setting and they began to pack up their equipment, eager to make it home to their warm-cooked space meals. Pat could only guess as to what lay on the other side of the clumsy blockade. Jungles in the distance, he thought, by the sound of the monkeys’ calls, explosions and gunfire closer, as if just behind the obstruction, and fireworks far away near the horizon. He imagined a starry-eyed couple in love’s embrace on a pier over the ocean as the sun set, the fireworks burst and the wind animated the woman’s hair. As they were about to give into desire, the wind stopped suddenly and the couple looked suspiciously at Pat. He noticed the woman blink, and then again. Blink, blink – and then the pier disappeared from under their feet. The lovers, along with his plot, were swallowed up by the heartless ocean.

But the ocean was miles away and the sun wasn’t setting. It was reaching its zenith and the air conditioning unit in his $650 a month apartment was broken. Again. He pushed the laptop away, got up and filled a glass with tap water. Staring out the window over the kitchen sink, he took a sip and let out a sigh. The cursor kept blinking on the screen and in his mind. He turned to the computer and the table. Reaching down, he held CTRL+A to select what he had written thus far and then pressed the delete key. Pat was a stupid name, anyhow.

He decided to take a walk to clear his mind. No. In fact, he wanted to do the opposite. He wanted to fill his mind and pour it out all over the luminous, electronic page. Still, a walk might spur some hidden thought to gallop across the tumbleweed-less desert of his mind, kicking up dust and plot along the way. He stepped outside and locked his door, walked down the open staircase into the daylight. Maybe to the park, he thought. Someone called his name from the building across the parking lot but he didn’t recognize it, didn’t have it yet, and so he walked on. There was something comforting in being nameless and unknown even to himself, being without a style or genre. This was new and yet he remembered it, a certain freedom in the nothingness of — he noticed he was walking in pace with the cursor. Step. Step. Step. The plot had never even left the screen.




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