Modernity Story 3: The Written Word

Inspiration: Hey You by Pink Floyd

Shakespeare was always good inspiration for a poem on love.  “‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’”  The man shook his head.  “I’ve never much cared for summer.  Too hot, too sticky.  Rains too much, sun’s too bright.”  He bit his cuticle, a nasty habit that he had been trying to break since he was ten, all of fifteen years before.  “And winter’s no good.  Too cold, too icy.  Snows too much, sun’s all but gone.”  He pondered for a moment, remembered that he was chewing his cuticle, and nervously pinned it under his leg to try to stop.  A memory flooded his senses then.  There was a scent of fresh apples at the farmer’s market of the county fair, an image of golden leaves falling from trees onto a lush green carpet of grass.  And then, there she was, laughing with her sister, her auburn hair, slightly windblown, flowing like a silken river down the back of her burgundy dress.  “Autumn.  It’s perfect.”  And so, he began:

The fall autumn leaves fall around you
In a great golden halo.
But you already wear bear a halo are already aglow.
Long have I longed

“No, no.  Too desperate.”  He sighed and shook his head.  “But I am desperate… still, no.”

Light circles you, a frame:
Your exquisite

“That just makes you sound indecent.  She won’t be flattered by such overt suggestion.”

It is a blessed glow radiance
From some heavenly ethereal source.

You are Queen of this land:
Daylight finds you in the trees,
Where your touch makes gilds leaves
In wonderful wondrous new colors.

“Now something about her beauty… she is beautiful.  No, radiant like the sun.  No, like the stars upon a clear autumn night sky.  That is her.”

Moonlight finds you
Wherever you please,
Most often shaming the stars
Into hiding themselves away their faces.

For you are more beautiful precious bright

“She is more… more what?  Just ‘more’?”  He chewed his cuticle, ripping off a small piece of flesh to reveal a little well of blood.  “Yes, she is more.  She is everything… but no.”  He stared out his window into the night.  “Or is she ‘the most’?  What is she?”  He began to chew his cuticle again, stopped, and looked at his hands.  They were old hands, much too old to still be writing poetry in pursuit of a girl.  Who was he fooling?  He was not the desirable bachelor he once was.  He had played the playboy for far too long.  He was past his prime, and she would never choose him.  She was a symbol of his karma…of his regret… of his wasted life… of all he could have had…  She was such a beauty… no, more… such a lovely flower… such a jewel… such a…

“Such a what?  What does he think she is?”  Robert adjusted the sleeve of his plush robe and took a long drink of wine from his glass.  He was a great writer of classic romance, and now he could barely describe a girl.  “What do I think she is?  I think she’s all of those things, and more.  She is his hope for the future.”  Robert sighed.  “But he doesn’t know that right now.  Damn.”  For being the story of a man discovering love and sex and breaking out of his shell because of a wild, auburn-haired beauty, the story was moving much too slowly.

Robert stood and walked across the plush carpet of his apartment to the grand piano by the window.  He stood there and sipped his wine again, staring at the city below.  He sat at the bench and began to play, softly at first, and then he began to play more energetically, furiously pounding out his sad soul’s melody on the ivory keys.  Robert was unsure why he was so brimming with frustration, but he decided to ignore his questioning and let the music say what he could not.  He felt a hole in his heart, a recently very familiar feeling, and he continued to play until he saw a small movement near his bedroom.

A woman stood there, naked and sleepy-eyed.  A Persian cat the same white color as the carpeting and much of the furniture rubbed against her leg, much to her dismay, before walking to Robert and jumping on the bench.  It purred as it nuzzled him.  “I’m sorry for waking you,” Robert began awkwardly, unable to meet the eyes that stared at him.

“It’s alright, it’s about time to go to work anyways.”  She turned away and went back into the bedroom to dress.  It was nearly two in the morning.  He wanted to ask her to stay, but he wasn’t sure what words to use.  She came out soon, barely more clothed than before.  “That’ll be $200,” she said brusquely, outstretching her hand.  He simply nodded and thumbed through his wallet, handing her the bills without meeting her gaze.  “Thanks.”  He only nodded.  Left alone, he stretched out on the couch with his cat and fell asleep wondering if death was any different.


Amelia stared the torn paper in her hand in dismay before setting it down on the desk.  She was unsure how it had gotten torn, but she was thankful that the pieces weren’t lost.  It had been months since she had written these first pages of her new story, and she was confident that she would have had difficulty rewriting the old text.  Her character, Robert, had evolved since then, had grown, and she wasn’t sure she was in touch with the old Robert enough to write about his experiences.  She taped the page back together carefully and set in its proper place, second from the top of her stack of papers.  It was time to type the story, to turn the ink into electrons and pixels.  Amelia still wrote her first drafts by hand, to feel the pain and grind of the story.  Her editor thought she was crazy for doing going through so much extra work, but the money Amelia made them kept her from arguing.

Amelia brought the manuscript to the fluffy couch in the den, by her favorite window, where her laptop and tea were already waiting.  She touched the play button on one of the five entertainment center remotes and an album of classical music began to play.  She sighed before sitting and snuggling her way under her blanket.  It was snowing outside and everything was utterly still.  The house was silent, almost eerie.  She picked up the first page and looked at it again.  “Thank God I’m not as lonely as these poor bastards,” she mumbled to herself.  As she woke her computer, she took a moment to smile at the picture of her husband and son who occupied her desktop.  In a few hours, her son would be home from school, followed shortly by her husband’s return from work.  She closed her eyes and sipped her tea.  “Thank God.”

As she sat there, typing away, Amelia pondered to herself about many random things, occasionally editing little bits that needed it.  “It’s funny,” she mused.  “I’m writing about a man who is writing about a man who is writing about a woman…”  She sipped her tea again before grabbing the next page to be typed.  “When does reality really start?”


2 thoughts on “Modernity Story 3: The Written Word

  1. I feel a bit entangled in the plot lines, but I loved the first part of the story. I know the goal was to show the creative process, but I liked the story of Robert so much that I wish it were his story you continued. He is a very interesting character and has great potential to make it into a bigger piece. Also I’d love to see the end result of the poem he was writing. I know, you said once that poetry isn’t your strong point, but your prose is so imaginative and beautiful, I think you could rhyme it together just as amazingly.

  2. Svapne says:

    The formatting for this was weird- in the original version, there is a division down the middle of the last paragraph of Richard’s story, showing how one half of the ripped page was faded while the other wasn’t.

    If I ever decide to tackle a love story, it will probably stem from this.

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