Rowena's first year of university had passed almost in a blur. Wake up, study, work, repeat. Wake up, study, work, repeat. Every single day, for six months. If it wasn't an essay that was due, then she had a project or an exam or something, there was always something. This morning was different, however, finals were finally over and for the first time in months she had nothing to do.
Rowena had woken up at 8 sharp, a habit she had actually managed to develop during her semester, but she still stayed laying in bed for at least another hour. She was exhausted, of course, but there was something else to her need not get up: She almost didn't know how. Every morning what made her wake up was the fact that she had a 9 am class that she needed to get ready for, an exam she needed to review or some office hours to catch. After 6 months of the same routine, she didn't know how to function without a ticking bomb on her back.
She glanced at her phone and looked at the hour. It was nearing 10 a.m. and she still had barely moved a finger. She sighed and shuffled in the bed again, she had waited for weeks for classes to be over so she could finally be able to do whatever she wanted, but now that she had the chance all she could do was lay in bed and waste precious hours of freedom. To top it all off, it was a lovely rainy morning. The sound of drizzling rain and the soft grey light of the covered sun soothed her.
Rowena lazily got out of bed only to slowly make her way to the window. The view from the apartment looked over a small terrace her neighbour had, they had installed a metal fence over one of the edges of their terrace that by any normal standards should have looked terrible, yet they had also decorated it with different pieces of colourful crystals and bottles hanging by strings attached to the fence. As she watched over the garden, she noticed small speckles of light dancing through the air and the rain; she supposed that the light of the bottles was being reflected by droplets. Her eyes, however, painted her a completely different picture: fairies. Small winged creatures dancing on the drops of rain and lighting them up as they jumped onto another. Rowena huffed a laugh, what kind of music would fairies like to dance to? Every fantasy story out there said that fairies would dance to folkloric sounding music, but would they really?
She slowly opened the window and, after checking that the rain didn’t get into the room, she breathed in the smell of rain. Maybe sounds that humans thought were normal sounds of nature were actually fairie music. Thunder could be the fairie-equivalent to death metal.
Rowena laughed again when she imagined tiny elegant fairies she always saw advertised as a kid rocking to some metal music. That would certainly be an amusing thing to think about. She grabbed her phone from the bed and typed out her thought:
Death metal fairie band.
She’d remember what it was about later.
As she scrolled down her cloud, she noticed a title that caught her eye:
The demon who got through hell.
Rowena’s hand tightened around her phone as her thumb hovered over the title. This really brought her old memories. She remembered the little girl who used to write countless adventures of her and her friends, how even from a young age she knew that she was writing cheesy and incredibly self-indulging stories, but she kept writing it anyway. A part of her laughed when she remembered the story she had made about her becoming a superhero while the other half cringed.
The grumbling of thunder brought her back from her thoughts. The rain began to pour harder and she quickly went to close the window before too much water got in. Funnily enough, she had written The demon who went through hell on a day like this. She didn’t remember much of the story, other than she had written it on a day her mother had been in a bad mood. Shrugging, Rowena went to the bathroom to clean up before taking her phone to the living room and reading the story. Immediately she hated the melodrama her younger self had used; not only did she describe every single detail about the demon’s life, with no time jumps, might she add, but the descriptions of everything were either humiliatingly dull or excruciatingly dramatic.
The quiet stillness of the room was replaced by Rowena’s laughter as she went through the short story. However, despite the hilarity it provided her, she had to admit there was a good concept buried in there: A demon and the human who raised them find redemption together. For a seven-year-old kid, coping through writing was a pretty remarkable thing she had done.
She sent herself the document and opened her laptop, writing notes on everything she wanted to keep and everything that needed to go. The clicking of her keyboard was mixed with the sound of the raindrops hitting the window.
She had forgotten how good it felt to write, to let her mind forget everything else just for a moment and let herself just be entranced by the world that was flowing out of her mind. Writing felt like a bottle of fresh water after running a marathon, she had a sense of urgency, of needing to write more and more, but there wasn’t any stress behind it.
She wasn’t writing a masterpiece, by any means, most of what she had written were comments on sections she wanted to change or develop and a list of random scenes with little to no connection; but a nebulous form of what the story could be about was already forming.
It wasn’t until she heard a jostling of some keys on the door that Rowena noticed how late it had gotten. The rain had long stopped, though it was still cloudy. Had she really been writing all day?
“Oh, Roro! Be a darling and help with these bags, will you?” her mom said, handing her a full row of paper bags from one arm as soon as Rowena got to the door.
“Mom! What’s all this?” Rowena asked, keeping a bag from breaking at the bottom.
“Well, since it’s your first day of summer I wanted to cook you a big dinner and… bake you a delicious cake.” her mom jumped with excitement. “You can invite your friends over too if you want, I’ll be making enough either to last us a month or to feed a very tiny army.”
Rowena chuckled. “Thanks mom, let me help you cook.”
“No, no, you keep- uhhh… what were you doing sweetie?”
“Oh! I was… Nothing important, I was just writing something.” Rowena said, after setting the bags down.
“Another essay? I thought you were done with those.”
Rowena flushed and stumbled, trying to find the words to say. “No, it- uh… it’s not an essay, just a small story, that’s all.”
Her mother all but beamed. “Oh, sweetie! You’re getting back to writing?”
“Not really, I was just messing around today.”
“Please show it to me when you’re done. Oh! I loved your stories, my favourite one was one of…” her mother snapped her fingers trying to recall something. “One where a woman goes to hell and meets a baby demon?”
“Oh! Yeah, I remember that one.” Rowena said, as if she hadn’t spent the whole day rewriting it.
“I loved that one! It was my favourite.” her mom put her hands over her heart. “You know, the day you read that to me? That’s the day I realized I needed to quit drinking.”
“You what?” Rowena exclaimed in surprise.
“Yeah, part of it was because you had literally sent an alcoholic woman to hell, but the other part,” her mom’s eyes became clouded with a wistful memory and a small smile tugged at her lips. “I just saw you cry while you tried to read me a bedtime story because I was too drunk to read one for you. I told myself, ‘the only reason my little girl should be crying is because of a sad animated movie, tomorrow morning you’re calling AA and getting out of all of this’.” she rustled the top of Rowena’s head. “To this day, that’s my favourite story ever. So, show me your next story, okay? I don’t want to miss out on anything.”
Rowena smiled at her mom.
“Well, mom, I have a feeling you’re really going to enjoy it once it’s done.”