What follows is the prologue for a novel I have started but never finished, before my current project took over my writing efforts entirely. I wanted to post this because I think that the perception is that these things come easily and whole, that writing is somehow easy for those of us that do it, that a certain measure of success with the craft means that it is all fun and games for us. It isn’t. There are a lot of missteps and failures and garbage that has to come out before anything good happens. Writing, if you take it seriously, is something that is shaped. Made, rather than born, if that makes sense. I will probably finish this someday, maybe next year after I get this current thing off of my plate. This part came very naturally, but I found that the main text, the body of the story, wanted to fight me every step of the way, that nothing wanted to come easy. Maybe I just haven’t found the right voice, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time for this one or whatever. Doesn’t matter really; I dropped it and maybe I will pick it back up in January, or maybe by that time I’ll have a whole other new thing happening, who knows? Anyway, here it is, for what it is worth.
He stood in the nearly empty apartment, looking around at the places where things aren’t. There is where she would leave her phone when she came in, now an empty space on the counter. There is the place under the window where she put her desk, so she could use the natural light to work, now just an empty piece of carpet. The place was mostly empty when he got home. She left the couch that she always hated, she left the velvet painting, a unicorn smoking a cigarette, that he had bought at a flea market for three dollars, and immediately put up in the living room. It was his only, and, it turns out, extremely unwelcome, contribution to the decorating of their shared apartment.
In a way it was a relief, her moving out like this, like a thief while he was at the soulsucking shitty office job that she had lined up for him.
Maybe it was a blessing that they couldn’t look at each other as she moved her things, and also, he thinks, looking closer, some of his things that she had laid claim to, maybe he might have felt compelled to help her move that heavy house plant, help her put it into the truck, maybe, as they carried the coffee table out together, careful to not tip it lest the glass slip out and shatter on the sidewalk, maybe, they would have looked at each other and wondered what they were doing. They had been together for so long, were they really going to throw it away? So maybe it was good that it ended like this, him coming home half drunk with his hated tie untied and draped around his neck like a scarf, to an empty apartment, no drama, no yelling and fiery hateful final goodbye grudgefuck, just his shitty old couch and his smoking unicorn and the pressed down carpet where the legs of their side tables were, the ones that they had to drive clear the hell out in the countryside to go and get.
It was good, her leaving, he knew that, but he couldn’t help feeling cheated, like he got robbed. In reality he didn’t give any kind of a shit at all about all the stuff that they had acquitted in their seven-year relationship, he didn’t care about the things that she had taken, not at all, but he felt cheated, incomplete, like she stole his chance at arguing with her, at telling her what he really thought of her, which wasn’t much really. They had barely spoken to each other in months, had barely even cared what the other was doing. It was completely over, but he still wanted to call her a hateful cold bitch, a fucking nagging harridan, a soul sucking harpy. He wanted to tell her that he used to think of her sister when he fucked her, that he always wanted to do it from behind because he couldn’t stand to look at her face. He felt cheated because he couldn’t hurt her before she left, which was the point, he supposed, exactly why she had done it like this.
She did the smart thing, the reasonable thing, but even still.
He needed music, something loud and fast and angry, he needed booze, needed people to hang on, needed something to help quell this rising tide of hate. He looked down at himself at his untucked white button-up shirt, his khaki dockers, his stupid nondescript shoes, and he was filled with rage at what he had allowed himself to be molded into. His younger self would have hated him, would have laughed and mocked him, that younger self that was still there, inside somewhere, hiding, begging to be released from this oxford button down cage, that hidden kid that felt alive, that knew what it meant to want something, the True Believer. He grabbed his awful white button up shirt and pulled, popping buttons flew off and landed on the empty carpet, ripped it off, threw it to the floor, exposing his tattoos, words and slogans and images that that younger kid thought would mean something forever, that meant he would never have to set an alarm to wake up in the morning, go antiquing, would never have to consider that his neighbors might want to get to bed early. Black Flag bars on his forearm, his first, done by his buddy completely hygienically in the garage where they would hang out and smoke stolen cigarettes and talk about life and drugs and sex. His mother had seen the bars and had nearly shit herself, but what could she do, make him wash it off? There were others, a fading anarchy symbol on his shoulder, Felix the Cat, the Operation Ivy guy, gothic script saying Life Won’t Wait down his other forearm, all marking a map of his belief, as much a record of his life as his medical records or his credit report.
His phone rang, sitting on the counter where he had put it when he emptied his pockets when he got home to this suffocating mausoleum and he almost didn’t answer it, his ears seemed to reject the shrill ringtone and he almost threw it against the wall, but he caught a glimpse of the caller ID, and his heart dropped.
Dr. Mortenson. He had almost forgotten, must have blocked it out, or something. “Probably nothing,” was what he remembered the doctor saying, “but better safe than sorry as they say, haha.”
It was probably nothing.
He looked at the ringing phone in his hand for a long hard second, and then he answered it.
Ive got the rest outlined and I think it is a worthwhile story. Maybe you will hold it in your hands someday. Or not. Hell I’m pretty busy, who knows?