I sit on the wood of, what I call, my “get your act together” bench. Its silver plague states it's dedicated to the memory of a man I’ve never met.
I set my backpack close beside me. In front of me is a scenic little pond that would be peaceful, except for the menacing long-necked birds floating on the water. Their black eyes, deep ominous trenches, stare deep into my soul as they taunt me mercilessly. One advances to the mudded shore. It’s hyperextended legs move a few steps before stopping abruptly. The motions remind me of a mechanical toy.
You’re no author. The rest of the gaggle honk similar statements, acting as an out of time echo. It’s an orchestra of insults.
Why even try to write a novel? A pause before the out of tune symphony of a nOvEl...a nOvEl. They sound like the seagulls from Nemo, even if they are different species. With your talent, I doubt you could write a children’s book.
Glaring at the feathered fiends, I am once again reminded of why I hate geese.
Trying to tune out the birds, I think of the times I had come here before. For years this has been my sanctuary when writer’s block builds The Wall between me and my creativity. The sound of birds and rustling leaves is usually what I need to clear my head of the hindering obstruction.
Each time I settle on the bench, I whisper my plea for inspiration to the summer breeze or winter wind. Sometimes it’s a chickadees encouragement that gives me an idea. Other times it could be a crow’s complaining that helps me come up with an important plot point. But geese are just cruel, honking insults like there’s no tomorrow.
And of course, that’s what I have to deal with today. I had been planning to start my first novel, but The Wall was blocking the flow of my ideas. Each sentence I typed was erased with the touch of a computer key. One hour later, I was still stuck with a blank document (or an awesome picture of a polar bear in an arctic blizzard). I had done lots of writing in the past, but I wanted to write something I could publish before my life changed from routine.
I had come here hoping to get some ideas, but with the obnoxious background noise that wasn’t going to happen. I inspect the black and grey Canada geese, wishing they were as polite as their name would suggest.
Sighing, I grab my backpack and continue down the path, slowly making my way back to the parking lot.
Businessmen and women in formal wear walk hurriedly to get back to the place they despise before their lunch break ends. Most of them are carrying almost identical briefcases. It’s like they’re just waiting to have a mix up with somebody else.
My neon yellow pack, on the other hand, is not going to get muddled up with anything. It’s bright colours also ensure I don’t leave it behind.
My hand moves up and down the strap holding the bag on my back. It makes me notice the small sharpie stain that’s been on it for a year or so. It brings back memories of sleepless nights spent cramming for tests. It also reminds me I won’t have any more exams in my old classrooms. My last year of high school has ended. I’m left trapped between the real world’s cliff and time, the barrier pushing me closer to its ledge. It’s not that I don’t have options, I just don’t want to dive into anything yet.
The pathway’s crumbling cement leads me past spring tulips and blooming crabapple trees. Geese waddle and lay on the grass nearby. I walk faster.
They’re all migrating back, I think to myself. None of them have bothered me yet, but I don’t take any chances.
Making my way through the parking lot I slip into my Honda CRV and start the engine. I lay my forehead on the steering wheel, trying to force the ideas out of my head.
My long hair cascades down the sides of my face, creating a small little room for me and my lack of inspiration.
I lean out of the comfortable position and not wanting to leave my car idling, pull out.
✸ ✸ ✸
I sit in front of my computer, having just pulled it out of my neon bag. My pointer finger taps rhythmically as I search for the right words to set on my pages. I just needed a few ideas to start my novel off. A school of witchcraft and wizardry? Nope, already taken. Teenage Mutant Ninja……Squirrels?
Annoyed, I smother my face with my hands and lean back in my chair. Everything seemed to be taken. Dumb geese.
I think about what they had said. My ambition and confidence twist into a knot and seep out of my body. My shoulders sink a few centimetres lower.
I glance at my bookshelf, packed with my favourite titles. Reading the names of the authors, I try to replace them with my own. It never seems to fit properly. Maybe I can’t write a novel.
My blue eyes travel over the spines. They stop on the vertical writing that spells The Hippo-NOT-amus. My lips curve up into a smile as I realize how cheesy the wordplay is. It had been one of my favourite books as a kid. My dad had brought it back with him when he left for a business trip. I think for a moment and become aware of the important lessons that the book had taught me.
The Wall crumbled, as a bright flash of ideas shot through my mind. Maybe I don’t have to write a novel.
The inspiration sends waves of energy to my fingers, making them itch to press the keys in front of me. The flood of ideas creates a crystal clear plotline. I am charged with writers’ adrenaline.
Each letter flows behind the cursor. The sentences, appearing through the small portal, gradually start to form a story.
About two hours go by before my flying fingers finally stop, setting down their last character.
Reading through my rough draft, I grin.
✸ ✸ ✸
The room is as silent as is should be. With finals on the way, the university’s reference center was too crowded, so I left for the nearest public library.
Needing to study, I slip through the simple maze of bookshelves to find a secluded table. I pass the horror stories, fantasy novels, and children’s books. I pause before quickly taking a detour.
Looking through the books, I recognize a few of my childhood favourites. The vibrant colours of the covers mess with my eyes, making it tougher to find what I’m looking for. There is a slit of emptiness where my book should be. Did someone check it out?
I look through the rows just to make sure it hadn’t been misplaced. After confirming it wasn’t there, a bubbly feeling warms my body. Someone, somewhere, is reading my book.
I continue through the shelves to find a desk, out of the corner of my eye, I spy a young boy reading in a corner. Turning to get a better look, I immediately recognize the cover. It belongs to my book. Smiling, I read the bolded letters making up the words, Gilbert Goose’s bad day.