His clothes fit for 30 years, and then they did not. Nothing fit.
The words popped into my head, the spear tip of a story piercing right through the fog and into my conscious mind. I could feel the whole shaft in that first prick of the sharp words. I could sense a story, I could almost touch the whole thing, complete.
For a moment it felt good. Like crack.
Then the alarms went off. Oh shit. This is how it starts, the literary thinking.
In a moment, I’ll find myself rushing off to find paper and pen. I’ll be curled up in some dirty, dark alley, a month later, scribbling, smiling, and talking to myself.
Begging pencils from strangers.
I have to stop it now. I must resist.
Let it go. Do other things, I told myself.
I went onto Facebook. The status box asked “What are you thinking?” And what I thought is: I could write a a few lines in there, or even a page, a short story. Is there a Facebook word limit? I could probably cram 80,000 words right in there. Once I start, it’ll be easy, like falling off a cliff, but believing you are flying.
No, no, you don’t. I closed the browser, and brushed by Microsoft Word as quickly as I could before powering down my laptop.
I took a walk. Words followed my every step, lurking just behind me in my subconscious. I felt a theme, ever so gently touch my shoulders. I walked faster, but the words quickened, too, more and more of them, and ideas, right behind me. I felt a little high, a little feverish.
I thought about getting a drink to drown the words out. Then I remembered Hemingway’s warning: Write drunk, edit sober. There are words in drink, he had tried to warn us; alcohol gives no quarter.
I knew I was on the very edge of falling into writing.
What I needed was some literary methadone.
I found Jill, who leads my writing support group, at Starbucks. Jill is my sponsor.
“Tell me about your story,” she said.
“And your themes,” she added, “What about the climax, and turning points?”
I told her everything. I released the ghost of a story right out of my mouth. I gave the virus to her, and she took it all, selflessly.
And then I was OK. The story was gone.
I went back home, never more thankful for belonging to a writing group.
I went to sleep. I did not dream.