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Saturday, August 06, 2011

The fork in the road

It had been one of those days. Yet another. The night bought no rest or peace. How could it, when the day had been as unproductive as it had been for the past many months? He tossed and turned and agonized over it every night. He knew he had to wait. The gift came with a curse. He had to be patient. But it was so hard. So hard to see the bundle of blank paper undiminished day after day. So hard to make himself eat each day so that he would live another and hope. So hard to walk through the library dreaming of the day his name would smile down at him from one of the shelves.

He went for walks. Long ones, where he watched and listened. Somewhere in all the chaos around him, was a story. A story that he would write. He only had to keep looking till he found it. So he looked and looked - wandering around the market, loitering on the railway station platform, waiting on the park benches, riding random buses around the city. He would hear snatches of conversations, note the environment, study people's features and mannerisms, capture their emotions and then imagine their circumstances. To the masses rushing past, he was some kind of still life he supposed. They presented a slice of their life to him and he tried to create a past and future to the moment.

When he went back to his room, he made notes in a large worn out notebook. It was like a diary that he spoke to - telling it all that he saw and thought and felt. His imagination took him far, but just not far enough and not often enough. And so he waited. You do understand, don't you? He was close to his breaking point. Maybe one more day would do it?

He dragged himself out of bed again. When he stepped out, you could see he was different. He carried a bag. His eyes were mostly fixed on the ground and he walked with no direction or end in mind. He walked till his legs ached and then found a place to rest, settling down leaning against a large tree. The notebook rested on his lap. Maybe he ought to burn it up, he thought, caressing the dog earned edges. He had tried enough and it was foolish to waste more time on this.

All the same, he couldn't resist opening the notebook. One last time, he told himself as he began reading. He was soon lost in the tiny splashes of life that his notebook was full of. Time passed and the sun climbed the sky and began dipping towards the west. When he was done, he closed his eyes and sighed deeply - so many story lines, so many characters, so many beginnings...it was endings that he didn't get. Ending - well, that was life's job anyway. She chose when and how and where things ended. All one could do was begin.

He had almost applied the match to notebook when he paused. His hand shook, the match fell harmlessly to the ground and his mind exploded in chaotic thoughts. Beginnings. That was the answer. All the people he watched, all the pain he had seen and all the possibilities there were but which only he could imagine. He would show them the fork in their road.

'New Beginnings for Sale' reads the little board outside the room. It is a clean, empty space with a desk and a few chairs. He sits there and waits. He doesn't mind doing that, you know. He has had enough practice.

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