Over the last week or so I’ve been listening to Writing Excuses, a great little podcast on the craft of writing. One of the things they do is to end each episode with a writing prompt. Obviously I don’t have enough on my plate, so I decided it be fun to take a crack at some of these. The prompt from the episode I just listened to was “Write a piece about a really strange reason a writer isn’t finishing his work.” So I went really strange. Creepy even. You’ve been warned.
“So, this is my office, where all the magic happens.” Albert joked as he squeezed between her and the door, trying awkwardly to not make contact, but failing as his gut ran across her fore arm. She pulled back instinctively and he accelerated, putting some distance between the two of them. She wasn’t certain, but he may have mumbled an apology as well.
“You work from home then?” She said, her eyes taking in the stacks of paper, dirty coffee mugs, and crumpled food packaging that covered every flat surface of the small spare bedroom, save the keyboard and high-backed brown leather office chair, which bore the imprint of Albert’s ass. Albert smiled and scratched at the four days worth of beard he’d accumulated. The short black hairs responded audibly under his fingernails, filling the otherwise uncomfortable silence.
“Yes, yes, I work from home. Don’t tell the old boss, but it gives me more time to write.” He said after a long pause, then chuckled but didn’t make eye contact, instead he examined some discoloration on the carpet floor.
“Oh, you write? What sort of stuff do you do?” Julie said, happy for any conversation, any sound to fill the void between them. She’d never met anyone that made her quite so uncomfortable. She reached for a stack of papers, her curiosity peaked, but he moved as if to put himself between her and the stack so she allowed her hand to drop back to her side.
“Novels, they’re crime fiction mostly.” Albert said, pushing his glasses back up onto the arch of his nose.
“Wow, novels, huh? How many?” Julie gave him a smile, trying to look interested. As uncomfortable as he made her, she needed the commission this place would bring, and even with the awful state of this room, the house would fetch a great price. As the training packet had said, “Real Estate is about three things: Location, Location, Location!”
“I’ve started eleven so far.”
“Started?” Julie said. He crossed his arms, his cheeks flushing slightly. She couldn’t tell if he was angry or embarrassed.
“Yes, just started. I’ve never been able to bring myself to finish one.”
“That’s a shame.”
“It really is.” He said. That’s when she noticed he was staring at her breasts. No, not her breasts, her neck. She swallowed slowly and took a step back.
“Were there any other rooms?” She said, her eyes darting to either side as she stepped back into the hallway.
“Just the utility room and the garage.” He said, taking a step toward her. Julie felt the sweat explode into her palms and her heart leap into her throat. She took one look into those dead eyes and the panic inside her overflowed. A wood soled clog, terribly impractical for almost any other situation, came crashing up into Albert’s groin. There was a sickening wet crunch and Albert collapsed into a howling mass on the floor. Julie offered no apology, instead she ran for the front door without a single look back.
Sometime later, Albert pulled himself up from the floor, wincing and groaning as he did. With a slow bow-legged limp he made his way back to the brown leather chair and slumped down into well-formed groove. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his seat, weighing the benefits of a bag of ice, versus the distance to the kitchen. After another long while he opened his eyes and jiggled the mouse on his desk. With a click he saved the text file open before him, then closed it with another click. With a bit of stretch he was able to pull on the cord to open the blinds of the window to his left. He waited and watched, until a young blonde woman crossed the street a block up from his home. He turned, a smile on his face, and opened another text file. “Chapter 1…”