Where does writing come from?
by Thadd Presley
(there’s a story below, but first)
Where do stories come from? Where does the voice of each character come from? Where do they intend to lead us? Is this gift/curse of writing a manifestation of split personalities or just an over active imagination? Could it be a deeper understanding of humanity trying to make it’s way to the surface and into the world.
It could be all of these things and none of them. I know that I hear a dialog and see these people living their lives so clearly I must write it down. It’s not always something I want others to read. For many reasons, it’s just not for anyone who doesn’t know me. They would think I was unstable.
Writing is a way I can release this mounting dialog constantly welling up in my head. There is a torrent of constant voices, people and places making connections in my head. Murder is not the point, even in a murder mystery, and neither is the mystery. It all begins with a voice, a person asking a question. Something as simple as this:
“Did You Lock The Door”
“Steve, did you lock the door before you came to bed?” She asked him every night if he locked it. “Did you double check it?” And she would remind him, “someone could just walk in off the street and do anything they want to us.”
The memory of her warnings rang in his head. Steve had heard Rebeca go through her script nearly fifty times since they moved from Avalon Avenue to Mill Street. He’d heard it so many times that he automatically locked the front door even when just coming in from checking the mail. And, by God, he knew he locked it after coming home last night. There was no mistake. He knew he’d locked it.
He remembered distinctly locking the door because even before removing his boots, he reached back and did it. It was only a flick of the wrist. He had ample reason to know the door was locked because he rechecked it after his shower before going to the bedroom where Rebeca was already asleep. Then, while getting comfortable next to Rebeca and soaking in her warmth, she stirred a little and asked him. “Did you lock the door?”
“Yes, Becca, the door is locked. Twice checked.”
“OK. I love you.” She pulled his arm around her and they settled into their new comfortable bed.
Everything was new. At most a month old. They’d bought all new furniture for the move.
Suddenly, right before drifting off, the door came to his mind again and he laughed to himself. More and more, his wife’s OCD had began to affect him. He tried to push it out of his mind, but he needed a drink of water. So, forced to leave the warmth of the bed anyway, h could check anyway.
On his walk through the living room, he saw the door was locked. But, to be sure, he physically rechecked the door.
On the way back down the hallway with a glass of water, he looked in on his son. Even at five years old he knew the boy was going to have a snoring problem. It wasn’t loud, but he made a mental not to make an appointment with the doctor.
It was all so clear. There was no mistake. The door was locked. But, none of that mattered now. It was only memories. From the warmth of his wife to the sound of young Max snoring. It was all just memories.
It was six in the morning and there was absolutely nothing he could do that would change the terrible facts. It was too late. Replaying his every move in his mind would not help him understand what happened while he slept. Nothing would bring his wife and son back. Rebecca’s worst fears had come true. Someone had walked in off the street and done something.
He knew nothing was going to change. Nothing would change anything now. This was a concrete and unforgiving world. If life had suddenly become a game, he wouldn’t restart. He wouldn’t want infinite lives. He would just turn the game off. He was tired of playing it.
When he woke, Rebeca was dead in his bed, stabbed just inches from where he slept, and his son had bruises around his neck. Someone had strangled his weak little body until it moved no more.
It was too much to take, too much to describe, and no way anyone would understand if he tried. Christmas mornings just weren’t supposed to start this way. This entire week was meant to bring a new year where a brighter vision of the future filled everyone with excitement. But, instead he was faced with this nightmare. Alone in a world where he no longer wanted to live. Steve knew he couldn’t go on. It was the end for him.
He didn’t own a gun. He didn’t have enough of the right pills to kill himself. There was no poisons he could drink that would definitely do the job quick and right.
There was a forgotten box of razors in the medicine cabinet, left by the family who lived here before them. He had seen them probably a hundred times over the last month and never threw them out. Neither had Rebeca.
That family had troubles as well. He’d heard that the family was bullied into moving away. He didn’t know all the particulars, but nasty rumors about the family were all over the neighborhood and Rebeca had heard more than was good for her.
Yes, the razors were still there. He took one out and removed it from it’s brown paper sheaf. It was shiny and sharp. He pushed it into his skin right above his wrist and in one quick motion jerked it toward his elbow. The pain was non-existent. He wouldn’t have cared anyway.
The second wrist was harder to cut because seeing his blood made his fingers unsteady, but he managed to put a deep gash halfway from his wrist halfway to his elbow. Pain had began to pulse in his right hand. Then he felt the first wave of panic hit him. The blood flowed faster as his heart sped up.
He felt dizzy immediately, but it was just the thought of dying that scared him. It was only a mild fear compared to living without his wife and child.
He looked at the bathroom floor and was surprised at how much red had pooled under his feet. Dark red footprints tracked his tiny movements back and forth in front of the sink. The mess would be terrible he thought and laughed a little. The sound spooked him and the world seemed brighter than it should, as if a spotlight was directly behind him.
He walked to the tub and almost slipped getting in. He turned the hot tap on full blast. Then, reached out to turn the cold tap, but the phone rang.
He had no need to answer it and he didn’t care who it was. Slowly, he placed his wrist under the faucet and watched the bath water turn from pink to red.
On the third ring the automated message answered in Rebeca’s voice. “You’ve reached the Mallory family. We’re not home at the moment. Leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP. Have a blessed day.”
“Steve, Rebeca,” an excited voice all but yelled. “Pick up will ya?” It was the landlady. “OK, look, I just remembered something. I forgot to change the locks before you moved in.” “I’m coming over directly and do it. I’m sorry, but I can’t put it off. It’s very important we do it today.” There was a pause. “I’ve received word that Harold was seen in your neighborhood. He’s the son of the family who used lived in your home. He could be dangerous, so call my cell. I’m leaving now to meet the locksmith and change your locks.”
Steve did not hear the entire message. He had passed out while crying. As the warm darkness came over him, he wondered if he locked the door. Rebeca would surely ask him first thing.
So where do stories come from? It is our own fears trying to warn us or is it just random thoughts and we string them into stories assigning voices and sentences and places in an attempt to make sense of them?
I don’t know.