The rain swarmed against the drain outside with a ding! and a ting! to punctuate the thunder. It was like looking outside into a sea, the window pane crying with the sorrow of the city. The thick gray clouds encapsulated the buildings threatening to disassemble their usually gleaming clear eyes.
A pen top thumped against the desk again. Thump. Thump. Again and again, the slim utensil drummed its boredom. There seemed to be no reprise in the near future.
His eyes were dull. Not lifeless. Just dull like the gloom outside. A streak of brilliance stumbled across the sky reflecting in his overly large pupils. The smoke tendrils writhed towards the cracked window. His fingers barely twitched and lazily lifted the white roll to his lips again. With a sigh, he let his hand fall, the other keeping an irregular rhythm on the desk. The eyes gaped blankly at the scene outside disinterested in the world beyond.
The smell of paper and smoke-filled the room. The paper infused with the smoke and the smoke infused with the sole lit lamp. A ponderous clap of thunder shuttered the building causing a breeze to spray droplets into the room through the crack. One drop fell on the empty sheet of paper, a tear for unwritten dreams and silent wishes. A stench of polluted rain filled the room throwing the smoke to the corners. The window remained cracked.
In the next apartment, two voices escalated into screaming banshee, their shrill staccato emphasized by the continued patter of the rain. Another hit and the smoke wound its way up, free and unbound. For a moment, the eyes traced the delicate path up and out the window. Then they were back to their indifferent vigilance.
A final sigh and the pale white vessel was placed in an ashtray. A shrill shriek sounded again, the note reaching an unimaginable register. Something about “you fucking cheating scumbag.” One click and the subtle potency of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata drowned out the cawing next door. He leaned back in his chair. The joints creaked but did not give. Around him lay stacks of papers and notebooks. He apathetically scooped up a set of papers with an unfinished title and paged through the story. One beginning of one lonesome story. It was unceremoniously dropped in a scatter of sheets another beginning of a story glaring back at him, its name in accusing letters, “The Wanderer.”
A single chuckle escaped his throat. Funny how at the time it seems like a masterpiece and then the road becomes gravel and leads to nowhere. What was he to do with so many beginnings but no ends? His life was like an untied string, winding and winding without any end, a new beginning at each bend only to have no conclusion. He drifted. Drifting from job to job, from idea to idea no knowing what the point of it all was. Others found their place, their niche in a beehive society ridden with rotten beams that would fall out under your feet if you did not like the honey, if you did not want to be another drone.
A drowsiness overtook him. Nature’s grumbling continued in harmony with Beethoven. He had slept for maybe five minutes when he awoke with a start. A sudden revelation dawned in those dull eyes. Quickly, he unsheathed his wit covering the paper with black blood. Hours passed and papers were furiously grabbed and then tossed aside; and still his hand battled on, the black ink scrolling his labor. An intense concentration deepened the lines in his face.
Perhaps a half day later, the first uniform stack of papers stood proudly. The sun was finally beginning to peek behind its gray curtains, the crowing next door had halted, and a welcomed peace had taken the city. A single ray of light spilled over the paper highlighting bold letters: “If Only They Could See”.
The first faint smile slid across his face. His eyes, still dull, gazed in wonder at the work of art. How marvelous paper could look and smell with its fresh ink. It was the new-born from the old, risen from the ashes of a destroyed beginning. His body slumped in the chair, eyes still fixed on the paper. A powerful calm spread through him and he blinked slowly.
The bars on the window seemed to vanish. The city refurbished itself into spiraling towers challenged by the great expanse of wings belonging to fantastical creatures. There was a solitary knock on a door that no longer existed, the sound being swallowed by his mind’s ecstasy. His once confining room had been overgrown with plants whose brilliance was testified only by the incredible sky. Then, there was only the soft prick in his skin, the needle delivering the ravings of imagination one last time.