The extra room was really unnecessary when Darren accepted the lease. He lived alone and far enough away that no one from back home would come to visit often- if at all. Still, though, he liked the idea of a two-bedroom place. Maybe he could turn the spare space into a writing office and art studio. Maybe it would be empty for a year.
Darren decided to bring a small desk with a humble chair into the room by the window that overlooked the small lake backdropped by the tiny square of woods that people enjoyed to pretend were enough nature despite the mountains being ten minutes down the road. Nevertheless, the faint sounds of children playing war and adults enjoying the wildflowers and trees would hopefully inspire him. That room would be the most monumental setting of his young adult life.
In this plain room, a cookie-cutter lookalike of everything else in the apartment complex is where January would bring a newfound inspiration for the novel that had entered a continuous cycle of writing, rewriting, and being forgotten about. The words flowed for his mind, through the fingertips, to the page on the screen before Darren would have a chance to notice that headway was being achieved. Fully-fleshed characters with vivid scenes and coherent storyline developed perfectly.
February delivered a hidden talent for painting. Using the woods and water as an idea, the room became filled with watercolor images of friends fishing together, hopeful to bring a prize bass out from under the surface to brag about; lovers clutching each other tightly in the snow as others glided gracefully across the ice on figure skates; and colorful depictions of deer and foxes running through the trees to find food and shelter for the night before the sun would rise and bring new priorities for sustenance and shelter. Friends would compliment the paintings and a few collectors even bought some works.
The first draft of the novel was finished in mid-March. Almost exactly at the halfway point in the odd-numbered month. A heartwarming tale of two high schoolers stumbling into a world of magic and wonder by accidentally moving a loose brick in an old mansion. The two friends were the catalyst to a great war between good and evil with fleshed-out god and devil leaders who commanded their armies. The novel was written through the eyes of a woman who had been a child when the war happened and was writing as a memoir with historic facts about how the Heroes of Wonderia (as they became known) had gone from ordinary children to epic heroes. The novel was given the title The Walled World as a hint to how the story would be tipped off.
The first calls from the publishing houses came in late April after the rework on the book had gone as smoothly as the actual writing. A dear friend and (secret) potential lover would give free editing advice after being emailed a copy of the five hundred seventy-three-page tale. She helped him with grammatical errors and character inadequacies with criticism on how to make the exciting scenes more fun to read, the book would be an even six hundred pages after her help. Darren landed on the company that offered the most money for a first-time author and his paintings became solely based on his world of Wonderia. Those works would eventually be released as mass-produced copies in a book for the hardcore fans to get more of a fix before the follow-up was released.
May came with a sudden lapse of joy. After four straight months of goodness, Darren would get a call while he was dusting the surfaces. By then, the room had become crammed with bookshelves over packed with science fiction, horror, and fantasy works, completed and in-process paintings piled high in a corner, and a few plants that helped bring some life into the area. His uncle had died after a four-year battle with blood cancer. That night, the walls and carpeting silently cradled Darren’s mourning body as a large bottle of cheap whiskey was drained down his tight throat.
The process of heartbroken alcoholism would continue as the room sat empty for two weeks in June when Darren would fly home to attend the funeral. This rekindled a flame with the friend who had edited his book. Dinner and a walk in the park exposed years of hidden love and plans for her to visit soon.
July would see the spare room being cleaned of a collection of empty wine, beer, and liquor bottles with dried blood and vomit stains removed from the walls. Vacuuming and dusting would also take place just about every day in anticipation of Darren’s new girlfriend and old best friend, Kiara’s, visit. A few paintings that would go in the Wonderia art collection were finished in here and sent off to the publisher’s headquarters.
Kiara came to visit in August. If the walls of this room had eyes, it would have silently viewed the two painting cutesy images of favorite book scenes and imaginative date ideas completed to old love songs playing on a ten-year-old speaker. It would have also have witnessed long kisses and playful touching before the sounds of pure romance echoed from all about the apartment. In this room, Darren had truly realized what true happiness felt like.
In September, the return to school and cooling meant fewer people gallivanting around the lake outside. No more hearing children scream loudly as their parents watched from a blanket on the grass. The birds no longer floated around the surface as they began their journeys to warmer places until next April. This month was instead reserved for long phone calls to Kiara and the book publishers, who were planning a tour for Darren to take around the country to make his name and title more well-known.
The soft, cold breezes and crumbling leaves of October brought cinnamon scents and spooky decorations into the room. Darren would write ghost stories to supplement the book income and paint scenes that depicted haunted houses and cackling jack-o-lanterns. Warm tea and candy also became a regular consumption for this month as nightly horror movies were watched in darkened excitement. Kiara also visited again this month for Halloween activities and horror story aid.
Thanksgiving became a big priority in November. This is also when the inanimate space of the office would learn that Darren would not be renewing his lease. The far-away girlfriend and the six-month tour in the first half of the year to advertise the book would mean another year at the apartment would be exchanged for hotel rooms and moving in with Kiara. The room would have experienced emotions of sadness or sorrow, but being unliving would just sit as if nothing happened. The smell of turkey filled the apartment and the room as Kiara aided Darren in cooking a meal way too large for just two young people to consume themselves.
December brought snow and gift wrapping. Little boxes in colorful paper with the names of various friends and relatives scribbled on them piled high. A couple more stories were written in the holiday spirit to cash in on the feeling of nostalgia for holidays passed. The most memorable gift that would be brought into this room was a little ring studded with diamonds and the words “Forever my love” etched in the metal that Darren would use to propose to Kiara. She would say yes, forever solidifying their love for one another. Darren would enter the room one last time on December thirty-first to bring the last bit of packed boxes out to the truck that would deliver his belongings to Kiara’s front porch.
The room said nothing. Darren would never stop to think that one room could bring so much in just a year for him. Who remembers a room? Soon enough, the small space used as an office would see new residents, some staying for a year, others staying longer until the complex was eventually torn down and the river covered over and trees cut away a decade later to make room for an expanding neighborhood. Though the room felt no emotions and did not live, if it had, it would have smiled- dying with the fond and sad memories of many past residents.