When her mother died, it was on a night when lovers got lost in complications and misunderstandings and she was standing in a chair, laughing and crying. There had been the need to write something worthwhile, the significant inspiration she had always hoped for. So at the funeral, she wrote a story that in the end, tasted sour and sweet at the same time. It wasn't a story that needed to be remembered as beautifully real but she had lived with the inspiration through drugs and dirty smiles.
She couldn't call it writer's block for any reason although sometimes it leaned toward the words. She needed the inspiration, however little, and it was grating her nerves to not know what to write. She couldn't tell anyone, not with the annoyingly curious neighbors looking on and asking how she was coping with the weather.
The fun part of not knowing what to write was that she could dream about big things such as oceans and wildflowers, just dwell on the inside of these things until she was sure they were alive in her heart. But that was only as far as the fun part existed. It wasn't whole, not like the play of words like a drug to her sick mind. So, it wasn't really fun with the way it was.
On Sundays, it was worse. She wasn't a Christian or one who believed in a higher being so alone in her apartment with candlelight and closed curtains, she would sit and stare at her laptop and concede another terrible failure. It was always burning in her chest, like flickers of light threatening her peace. But just like that, it always disappeared.
They who loved her once had said to her, "You are a writer, Ruby." And because she hadn't understood yet that one could sit and not know what to write, she had nodded and smiled and written a poem that did not mean anything.
Now that she was all grown up and working at the bakery down the street, she wasn't sure she could keep up. She was a writer, no doubt, but there was nothing to write about. No, there was a story in her head, trying to burst out into pages of empty, flawless light. Not a particular story, as she would tell her friend, but pieces of an idea all around.
A month ago as she walked home from work, she passed by Mrs. Kilu's old house with the windows all broken and the garden, half-destroyed. And she saw Mrs. Kilu standing by the door with a quiet smile waving at her. When she got home, she thought about writing a story about grief. It obviously wouldn't have made any impact in-person to her or to Mrs. Kilu but she had wanted to write.
And she hadn't.
She had wondered if the problem existed from the screen of her laptop. It seemed so. So she took note and pen and settled on a chair and thought about writings from her childhood.
She had started quite well:
Remi backed away from the canvas, half scared of the display of colors. The full moon scarred the paint with faint eery glow and it brought him to his knees. His eyes closed in on the bloodstains on the floor. It sort of took the shape of footprints that slowly disappeared into the shadows. He smiled and then he died.
Now that she was stuck in the strange world and it was closing in fast on her, she could not understand why she ever considered the story a perfect example of harmony. It made no sense to her now. She had deleted it and watched Greg from the opposite house walk his dog.
To get inspiration, she got a dog. It was soft and cute and would walk with her through the house. She named it Bob and took it out for a walk and pretended it knew what she was talking about. When she got home and fed Bob, she sat with a cup of coffee and began typing words into her laptop.
"Rubbish." She muttered later. Then she deleted it and settled into bed. Bob settled in bed with her and she slept and did not write.
So when it came to inspiration, she was as dull as she could ever remember. It wasn't insulting, just reality slipping in. She needed to write. At first, it was wanted. When her mother died, the inspiration had come too easily. Now that she needed to write, it didn't come.
She took Bob for a walk and while going home, she met Greg. He was smiling at her.
"Hey, Ruby. You got a dog?"
She said nothing to him.
In the evening as she stood in front of the mirror, a memory flashed before her eyes. It was from a time so far back that it seemed made up. It was from when her mother was with her and they were standing behind a mirror and she was saying, "Do you think I will make dad proud? I want to write something about everything, mom."
"Why do you keep making that face?" Her mother asked.
"What face? Mom?"
"Your dad would be proud even if you decided not to write again."
Now that she was standing by the mirror, she searched her face for one slight mistake and found nothing. The fact was there was nothing to see, nothing to understand. She could write about the survival and aftermath of the war in her head but when it came down to putting it in a book, she could never get past: in the year 1991, a man loved a woman.
Then she was watching him from her window. Greg. He was taking his dog out for a walk and he had a lazy smile on his lips. He looked almost perfect. She ran out of her house and waved him over. He gave her a huge smile and said, "It's a fine day, isn't it?"
"Of course it is." She smiled.
"I'm taking Oi out for a walk. Join me. Where's Bob?"
"Oh, I can't. Not right now. I'm trying to write."
"I'm sure you will get it out in no time. You have Bob."
She laughed and met Bob and held it close. And just as suddenly, a feeling came upon her. It was one that was new but wasn't foreign, the kind where she had written a book from once. She smiled. She kissed the dog. It was just a flickering phase but it was the one that had enveloped her when her mother had died.
She settled on a chair and gently tapped her laptop. She put her hands on the keyboard and noticed the imagination dancing in her eyes. This time around, she knew it, knew she was going to write something that did not have to end with "...and without a second glance, the ocean divided into two until there was just a lone figure glancing around with a tight, unsure smile, pretending he wouldn't have to die."