By Rob Hakimian
Through his window he watched the rim of the sun disappear behind the top floor of the high rise across the park. Its shadow now blocked out the last rays of sun that made it through his small bedroom window. Soon it would be dark, and after that he knew his resolve to do any writing would evaporate along with the daylight. Several times he had started and deleted, started and deleted. The most he had written was two sentences, before realising the obvious flaws: the clichés, the lack of a hook, the lack of any semblance of voice or direction. He had retreated back to the blank page again, his text cursor back in the top left of the screen, blinking tirelessly. Not even a title. Four hours he’d been sitting there, alternating steadily between coffee, tea and water, perhaps somehow hoping that a different taste, a different smell, a different colour, might just bring to mind the seed of a story.
Now it was entirely dark outside, and soon she would be calling. They had only been together a couple of months, and only really got to see each other on weekends because of her busy work schedule on the other side of the city. So, they talked every weeknight when they were apart, and he was always excited when she called. Despite the relative shortness of their relationship, he was totally in love with her, and he was sure she felt similarly about him. The worst feeling he could ever imagine was letting her down, but that’s exactly what he was going to have to do. She believed in him utterly as a writer, and was the most encouraging person in the world in regards to his work. She had been extremely complimentary about what he had shown her of his past writing. Her praise was even more valuable than anyone else’s.
Recently, however, he had completely dried up. Not a single word for a couple of months now – at least not ones that had lasted more than 10 minutes on his screen. The fallow period had probably started around the same time they had started getting physical. He was worried. She reciprocated his worry, but with undercurrents of faith and certainty that it was just a phase and that he would be back on track again soon.
As his dry spell had extended, and his anguish at his lack of output sharpened, she had tried various ways to try to goad him into writing something again. At first it had been merely vocal encouragement, which made him feel better, but had not resulted in any work. Then she tried to set him specific tasks, writing about a holiday, a memory, family history – anything – but that had proved just as fruitless. He found it too stale, too predictable, not something he could sink his teeth into.
Now she had come up with the latest scheme to get him working: by promising him a very secret surprise upon the completion of a short story. He had no idea what the secret surprise would be, but he knew that she would not let him down. She knew all the things he wanted; from simple material desires, to emotional desires and even sexual fantasies. He had not kept anything from her, and she understood him better than anyone. He knew that whatever the special surprise would be, it would be something that he would cherish.
But alas, the compulsion to write something in order to acquire this special surprise had not manifested. And he sat there, staring at his own reflection in the window, with the blackness of night outside mirroring his mind’s canvas.
His phone started buzzing. It was her, of course.
He picked up, “hey you.”
“Hey sweet one, are you alright?”
“Not too bad thanks, just sitting in front of my laptop, figuring things out.”
“Oh yeah, has it been a productive day then? I can’t wait to read what you’ve written.”
He gulped, did he sense a little drip of suggestion in her voice? The special surprise was going to be sexual, he knew it. He wanted to do so many things to her body.
“It’s not that great.”
“Don’t be silly, your writing is magnificent.”
“So are your delicate little features, cuteness.”
Silence on the line as he imagined her squirming a little bit with the directness of his adoration.
“So…?” she said, after a moment.
“So what have you written? Are you going to read it for me? You know I want to give you your special surprise, but first you have to convince me you deserve it.”
There was definitely no denying the sexual undertones in her voice now. He had to have her. He had to get her to show him the special surprise. Or “do” or “carry out” or whatever the correct action would be for what she had in store for him.
“Erm, it’s about…” he faltered, not sure how to lie. “It’s not really about anything. It’s just the start for now.”
“Well I still want to hear what you’ve got, you know what your writing does to me. Especially when you read it to me in your sexy voice.”
He gulped again, unsure what to say.
“Please read me something…” she said softly, seductively.
He looked at the blank screen in front of him and screwed up his face in frustration. “I’m not sure I’m ready to do that yet.”
“Pleeeeease,” she mewled. “I know it’s just a first draft, but I also know it’s going to be great. Because you’re great.”
His heart melted. He couldn’t let her down. What was he going to do? He cast his eyes about for some kind of inspiration. His eyes fell on the book he was reading, across the table, and he quickly whipped it up and turned to a page he’d dog-eared.
“Well, maybe I could read you a little bit,” he intoned, trying to match the ripe sexuality in her voice.
“Please,” she uttered.
“OK then,” he looked down at the page he’d saved in his book, took a deep breath, and started reading. “‘Night, however, succeeds to night. The winter holds a pack of them in store and deals them equally, evenly, with indefatigable fingers. They lengthen; they darken. Some of them hold aloft clear planets, plates of brightness…’”
She listened quietly, attentively, as he read the words out of the book. He read them with passion and gusto, wringing the brilliance out of the author’s prose. When he had read a page he stopped. There was silence on the other end.
“That’s all I’ve got for now,” he said, “or as much as I want to read anyway.”
She let out a long, languorous sigh that made his skin prickle with desire. “That was wonderful. Amazing, even. I knew you had it in you. It’s so different to what you normally write. What was that part about clear planets and plates of brightness – will you read it to me again?”
He looked back down at the page he had been reading from and saw the bit she mentioned. It was truly great, but he was already feeling sick at having passed it off as his own work, especially with the effect that it had had on her.
“I don’t want to read it again… I’m embarrassed,” he concluded, feebly.
“What are you embarrassed about? It’s wonderful.”
He stayed silent, wrestling over whether to push forward with this or to come clean.
“OK, Mr. Sensitive, you don’t have to read it to me again if you don’t want to. You can email it to me, and I’ll read it for myself in my own time, in my own way.”
“Maybe when I’ve written some more…”
“No, send it to me tonight. I want to spend some time with your words, since I can’t spend any time with you tonight. I want to think about you while I read it, and think about all the naughty things you’re going to do to me.”
His trousers tightened slightly. “Erm, seriously, I don’t think I’m ready to send it yet.”
“But don’t want your special surprise? Your very sexy special surprise?”
It was going to a be a sexual thing, he knew it.
“Of course I want that, I want that so badly.”
“Well then mister, just send me your work, and I’ll see just how worthy you are. Maybe I’ll…”
His mind went into a blank fuzz as she delicately described all the things she would allow him to do, and all the things she was going to do to him. While the lower portion of his body reacted in the way that you’d expect to the graphic descriptions she was unfurling into his ear, his mind was revolting.
“Stop! Stop!” he yelped, eventually.
“What, too much for you to handle, baby?”
“Well no… yes… kind of…”
“It’s OK baby, I know you want this…”
“I really, really do… but I don’t deserve it.”
“Of course you do. You worked so hard on that, and now I want to work so hard on you.”
His palms were slick with sweat. “But I didn’t, I didn’t…”
“Didn’t write it!”
“What do you mean?”
“I couldn’t write anything today, I tried and tried but nothing was coming.”
“So what was that you just read me?”
“It was from the Virginia Woolf book I’m reading.”
“I panicked, you just turn me on so much baby and I didn’t want to let you down…”
“But you did want to fuck me, so you lied to me. That’s disgusting.”
“I know it is baby, but you’re just so –“
The line went dead.
A week later, and no end of groveling, he had managed to get her to calm down and understand. She had agreed to maintain their usual weekend rendezvous. He had brought her flowers, and committed himself to giving her no end of pleasure. His jaw was aching and he felt like he had a touch of RSI in his middle and index fingers on both hands, but things were right again between them.
He hadn’t got the sexy special surprise he so desired, though. Just before he left her for another week apart, he had cheekily asked her if the deal was still on; if he wrote something, would she oblige in all the ways she had promised? Maybe it was just the afterglow of all the pleasure he’d brought her over the weekend, but she had laughed self-effacingly and agreed.
Now here he was, at the end of another long day of starting and stopping, typing and deleting, and he was no closer to writing the story that was going to unlock the door to all his sexual desires. The weekend of pleasure with her had only inflamed his yearning to an even greater extreme, but hadn’t provided literary inspiration. Most of the day had been spent dreaming of her sumptuous skin and precious, sexual lips. He had had to masturbate a couple of times to try to refocus, but it hadn’t helped. All he could think about was doing all the things she had whispered to him a week earlier.
Outside was dark, like the inside of his head. Not a flicker of inspiration. But he needed her body. He needed that flesh. He needed to do all the things he wanted to do, yearned to do. What was he going to say when she asked him to read her something? He had to say something, he couldn’t let her down. And he couldn’t let himself down. He needed this.
He went to his bookshelf and looked at his books. He was looking for something he knew she hadn’t read, and whose style of prose he could pass off as his own. It would be too obvious if he used Virginia Woolf again. He honestly had no idea how she had ever believed that he’d written that. She trusted him too much; he didn’t deserve it.
He spotted a book that he thought matched his criteria. He flicked through it, scanning the pages for an excerpt he could read that would impress her without arousing suspicion. He found one and marked the page.
He went back to his laptop with the book, waiting for her call. Maybe he could still write something of his own before she-
The phone buzzed, he picked it up.
“Hiya,” he said, trying not to sound guilty of anything. He hadn’t done anything wrong anyway – yet.
“Hello again,” she cooed. “I know I only saw you yesterday, but I miss you already.”
“It’s not just you, I wish I could be with you right now,” he replied. Touching your bum, caressing your inner thighs…
“How’s your day been? Any luck with the writing? Hopefully our… activities over the weekend would have cleared your mind enough to start afresh.”
“Yeah, it’s been alright. When I’ve been able to take my mind off you – which hasn’t been often.”
“Oh shoosh. I know your type. When you writers are in the zone nothing can jolt you out of it.”
“If anything can, it’s your body, baby.”
She snickered happily down the line. “Well I hope you got your fill of that this weekend so you could write today… and then you can come back for round 2 this weekend…”
He laughed softly down the line, but furrowed his brow as he wondered if he was really going to do this.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about all those things I promised I’d do for you… I can’t wait.”
“Is that so?” he replied weakly.
“It is… I can’t wait to…”
He took a sharp breath as she once again started to lavishly detail all the acts she wanted to perform on him.
“…but before all that you have to have written me a story. How’s it going?”
He faltered for a second, but his raging boner pressing against his trousers took charge.
“It’s going great. You really did unlock something in me. I’ve been writing non-stop all day.”
She let out a low sound of satisfaction. “Read me something then.”
Without hesitation he picked up the book and opened it to the page he’d marked. “OK… ‘He put the dog down on the runner under the awning and then stepped out into the rain with the leash. In the darkness the apartment buildings on the other side of the avenue were a serene black wall holding back the city’s sky, which was a steaming purple. It glowed, as if inflamed by a fever…’”
Once again she seemed to be listening attentively, but he sensed some movement on the other end of the line which made him nervous. He stopped.
“Do you like it?”
“It’s great. So detailed and dark. It’s not what I’d expected you to write about though, since you said it was me that opened up your writer’s block.”
“Well, the mind works in mysterious ways my dear. Anyway, I’m not sure I have the power to fully capture your graciousness and gorgeousness in words… at least not until I’ve fully explored you in all the ways I want…”
She didn’t make the usual utterance of satisfaction that she usually did at comments like this.
“Everything alright?” he asked.
“What was that bit about the buildings and the city sky?”
He faltered for a second, “er, let me find it… oh yes, it was ‘the apartment buildings on the other side of the avenue were a serene black wall holding back the city’s sky…’”
“What’s the matter?” he asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Well it says here that Tom Wolfe wrote that exact sentence in Bonfire of the Vanities. In fact I think everything you just read to me just came straight out of that book…”
“Wait, what?” He was fucked. “Where does it say that?”
“You googled my work?!”
“Well, it’s not really your work is it?”
He coughed, the hand with the phone now trembling slightly. “Well, ok, no, I didn’t write it. It’s just I couldn’t think of anything, but I wanted you to feel like you had inspired me baby –“
“You did this for me?!”
“Yeah, kind of. Everything I do is somehow-“
“Oh fuck off, you fucking prick. I can’t believe you tried this again. You’re never going to touch me again.”
The line went dead.
A week later, and he was exhausted. In the first few days after their last conversation he had tried to call her again and again and had been ignored. He had left her countless voicemails and texts, pleading with her, explaining to her all the reasons why he was not worthy of her, but desperately needed her, all the ways he would make it up to her. But nothing.
He had then spent the next few days writing, writing, writing. He barely ate, he barely slept, all he could do was write. His feelings at his utter spinelessness, his remorse, and his endlessly burning desire had coagulated into… something. He didn’t really know what it was that he had written, but it was good, he was sure of that. He hadn’t shown it to anyone. The only one he wanted to show it to, the only one who mattered, was her.
He paced back and forth around his flat as he thought about what he’d written, and fantasized about how amazed she’d be by it. “It’s the best thing you’ve ever written,” he imagined her saying. “I can’t wait for you to write more,” “I can’t wait for the world to read this,” “I’m so honoured that I inspired such great work…”
He watched the last piece of sunlight coming through his window get blocked out by the high rise outside. Monday evening; he knew she would be home, as she was every Monday evening. He needed to talk to her; he needed to read to her, to express everything to her via his prose.
She would ignore his calls, delete his voicemails before even listening to them. There was one thing he could do. He could put 141 before her number so that it would appear as an unknown caller on her phone. It was a sneaky thing to do, but hardly unfair considering the total blackout she’d cast upon him.
Reading back over the work he’d produced, he picked out his favourite passage. One about his love for her, and how deep it ran, comparing it to the spring of the river in the Garden of Eden. Truly beautiful, if he did say so himself. Just like her. God he needed her.
He picked up the phone and dialed the number. It rang a couple of times and then she picked up.
“Hey, it’s me. Listen, I’ve written something. Really written something new and unique and inspired by-“
“What the fuck?! Why are you still calling me, you creep?”
“Baby, don’t say that. Listen to what I’ve written about you.”
“Fuck off, I don’t believe anything you say. Don’t call me baby.”
He forged on “The contours of her supple skin are as lush and vibrant as the holy ground where once Adam and Eve copulated. And when we combine there is no other world, we are like the first man and woman…”
“I’m changing my number.”
“But wait I’m just getting to-“
The line went dead.