They tell me about rivers; declare it so wild and urgent until I, too, become like the river, restless, wild, important. It isn't obvious but sometimes the feeling sparks inside of me and when it does, I climb up to the hill and watch the sky and humans who look like tiny dots on the ground. There, I spread out my hands and wave out to the world and dangle it like flames, untamed.
They tell me about life; call it a current that drives through humans like a fire, twisting and turning and pushing. They define life as tragic and they clasp their hands in front of them, praying for redemption but not really wanting any. That's when the music stops and at the hill, I drop my hands to my side and stay silent because the tiny dots of humans on the ground know more about life than me.
Writers tell me about addictions; call it hidden emotions and restless winds. They do not define it, instead, they keep it locked down and written and displayed, hiding it under a kiss and a wave, never enough.
Many nights I've fallen asleep to the sound of a dog barking and each time I find sleep so mesmerizing, I remember the deadly writers at the group. I hear their voices, barking, talking, telling me about war and heartbreak and disease. I am a good person, no, not a good writer, but I'm a good person. Its funny how good is defined as something hanging lifeless in space; funny how the writers all merge together to contrast the idea of good and bad.
But I am a good person.
So when I sit in their gathering, I do it because I want to hear the next story, want to hear about things like wolves and kids and old men. In the room where each one of us declares ourselves unfit to carry on the dreams of the past, we read out stories and comment and find it lovely but not enough.
Secretly each one of us refers to the others by the way they write. Maria smiles a lot when she gets called up to read her story. The smile changes until she begins chewing her lower lips as if suppressing the need to spill out more details. Maria. I call her Tragedy and like the wind, it stuck. She is the one who writes about deaths and accidents and bad men. It never changes.
Then there's Suzan who we call Romance. And Paul the Self Reflection Therapist. Suzan, Paul, Maria and I are the only people I know although there are nine of us in the group.
I don't know what they call me. I write about dogs and cats and red wines, nothing too sincere.
Again we are seated around a large table -all nine of us- watching the other shuffle their papers. Maria is smiling again, knowing she will probably be the first to be chosen. Suzan's eyes are dull, empty, half searching through the room. She coughs and looks at me. We look away.
"Welcome back." Amy is saying.
A year ago, she tells the group, she stood behind the counter of a shopping mall and smiled at a woman. The woman came up to meet her and say, "I just got the inspiration I needed for my novel. Your smile was what I needed." And so AmyG. began. The story is probably exaggerated or made up but still, we listen, awake.
This time, it isn't Maria who first starts the evening and its a relief when Daniel stands up.
"He only writes poetry," Suzan whispers, searching my eyes for attention. I smile then I look away.
Daniel scratches his head and looks at his papers. He says, "Its a bit short. It's a poem too."
"Said so." Suzan leans in again, "He doesn't write stories. Isn't it annoying?"
"Perfect," Amy says.
Paul closes his eyes. Amy cracks her knuckles. The rest of us sit and listen.
Daniel says: I sit and stare,
perhaps that's my biggest fear...
Suzan whispers again, "It's quite good. But still."
So when poetry is done, us deadly writers look around the room and pass serious smiles. They say it's perfect; calming, like a young child until I, too, begin to nod my head, believing the poetry to be perfect. I find myself in an ocean unable to prevent the cold water from drowning my thoughts and beliefs.
The writers are the ones who define life in stories they shuffle about, feigning intelligence and wonder. They write about the stars and I envision it, softly blocking out all the other things that strive to provide me with a delicate balance.
Next, Maria stands and smiles. She keeps saying, "Oh, its just something I wrote last night." So that everyone is in awe and keeps complimenting her. Another tragedy, I can tell.
She says, "It's titled the Same Thing As Dead Birds."
And in my head, I can congratulate myself on guessing right again.
She continues, "I admit I was at a loss for the title after writing. I kept asking myself what would be the perfect title for my kind of writing and then I thought about Kim and her stories about Animals and the right title just came."
She is looking at me, eyes thanking me for another steaming inspiration. I know now what they could call me when I stand up to leave. She would have made it up and told the others and congratulated herself later for the perfect name: Animal Girl.
"You are a wonderful writer," I say to her.
She smiles. Then starts reading:
The monsters were not comfortable under the bed so they came forward and sat beside the boy and they patted his back, calmly like a parent. The boy's eyes were restless as the wind, got tears like fine diamonds etched on his face. The monsters held him so close and effortlessly, the child relaxed into the loving embrace. He wasn't to know the monsters had grown weary of the dark and were now ready to be the same thing as dead birds...
Amy claps and weaves her hand, afterward, into the braids of her hair. She says, "That was astounding. You are a great writer."
They say writing is neither blue nor white, colorless with the right amount of color. That's exactly how the writers put it when the moon has begun to shine through the closed curtains.
I have nothing to give. If I had, it would have been about cats and dogs and broken promises and I would have titled it Sun Rays because there is no book name that sounds more made up than that. But I haven't written anything for days as they are all aware.
When we part and I am walking back home, I see Maria by the corner of the street, holding her papers and laughing. Poetry stands with her but doesn't say anything.
I call them. I don't.