Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Timber Varden Teaser - The Prologue

The rays of the rising summer sun glistened through the half opened blinds of the window in the study. The window was open, but there was no breeze to cool the air and yet, even with a fan churning on the highest setting, sweat still poured from Christian’s forehead. Christian was slumped over his desk as he looked with despair to the blank screen before him, and then glanced to calendar on the wall. Circled in red pen was the 15th of July, and underneath it, written in capital letters were the words DEADLINE DAY.

Instead of being inspired, Christian was stressed, almost depressed, in fact it was clear to say he was on the verge of panic. He’d had months to get the novel written that’s now due only a week away and with all the time he’s had, he hadn’t written a single word. No pen stroke to paper, no key stroke typed.

Christian was suffering with a severe case of writers block at the most inconvenient of times. Eric, his publisher had already phoned on several occasions to check up on his progress. Each time he did, Christian would tell him it was coming along nicely and would be ready in time. He couldn’t help but give Eric the response he had been looking for, even if it meant he wasn’t being honest with him. He kept hoping a fire would ignite below his fingertips to send them racing across the keys of his computer. Or that one morning he would wake up with his hand racing across the pages that he lived for. But it never came, and each day when there was nothing in him to write, Christian became more withdrawn and sank deeper within himself with no obvious way to rise up from it.

Tensions were starting to build between himself and his long term partner Amelia. She had always been there to push him and give him the encouragement and support he needed to get through any blockage in his writing. But this time it was different. There was nothing Amelia could say to him to spur the inspiration in him to get him writing again, and today wasn’t going to change that.

Eleven am on the dot, Amelia entered the study, bringing with her a mug of coffee for Christian. It’s what she knew he always turned to when writing, or at least trying to write. At the sound of the door opening, Christian quickly minimized the program he had open and opened another in its place. He wanted to make it look as though he had been busy. He then swung round on his leather computer chair just as Amelia had closed the door behind her.

Christian’s eyes had caught hold of the slender curves of her legs, how to him they seemed utter perfection, how her skin dipped perfectly behind her knees. Amelia didn’t often wear skirts when she wasn’t working, but today she had chosen to wear just that. It only emphasised the slender length, all 5’5 of her, and perfect form which she carried so well. He then slowly followed her outline upwards as he tried not to make it so obvious to her, as to what he was doing. Christian loved everything about her, from her almost azure blue eyes, to her dark brown hair which she often tied back, but today she had left it loose. He loved the way her smile seemed to lift everything about her, the way her lip curved upwards when she was in a humorous mood. There was nothing about her that he didn’t like. To him, every single part of her was complete perfection and it didn’t matter how many times she would dispute that with him, in his eyes she was a goddess.

Christian couldn’t help but look her up and down, like he always did. It had become such a ritual to him every time she entered, that it was second nature to him. He was doing it without thinking about it.

Amelia walked over towards him, carrying his coffee as her cheeks turned rouge in embarrassment. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything as she passed the coffee to Christian.

Without hesitation Christian thanked her then turned back towards his screen. He had expected Amelia to leave like she usually did, but she didn’t. Instead of leaving, she had quietly moved behind him. She placed her right hand on his shoulder before leaning over, and then wrapped her left arm over his other shoulder towards her right hand. She then leaned in a little further and gave him a light kiss on his cheek, before he moved his head and returned the kiss to her, but with passion.

Amelia allowed her right hand to fall and reach for the mouse without Christian’s knowledge. She then brought back up the word program he had sitting open. Christian tried to stop her, but it was all too late. Amelia had already noticed there wasn’t a single word upon the open page on the screen. She could feel Christian becoming deflated on the seat in front of her. She knew he was disappointed, she was too and it hurt. Every time she had asked him about it, he would give a glowing report which would include small sections recalled from memory, from what he had supposedly written. And now to see nothing there, she didn’t know what to think. She recoiled back like snake from his chair and sat herself down on the window box.

Silence filled the room like death had befallen then. Not a sound uttered from either of them for what seemed like eternity. Amelia couldn’t handle it anymore. She had to say what was on her mind.

“Chris, please tell me that’s not your expected novel sitting empty there. After all these months of you sitting in here, have you not written a word to your novel, which is due a week today?” Amelia spoke with great sadness in her voice, but there was also anger. She was angry that he had lied to her like he had lied to Eric. She knew to expect him to tell small white lies to Eric, but never once had he lied to her. She was starting to wonder, what if anything else he had lied about.

“Ami, love, I…” Christian struggled to find the words to answer her. He could feel everything falling away from him, slipping down the plug hole never to be seen again.

“Don’t Ami love me Chris, I want honest answers,” she began. “Is that page the result of months of work?” Amelia couldn’t look him in the eyes. Inside she was raging by the fact that he couldn’t be honest with her, that he couldn’t just come to her and tell her he was struggling. All he needed to do was ask and she would have been there for him.

“Ami, it’s not that simple.”

“Don’t give me that, Chris. I deserve a better answer than that,” she fumed.

“What do you want from me, Ami?” he shouted in frustration.

“I want to know the truth. Is that, or is that not the book you’re meant to be working on?”

Sighing, Christian dropped his head. “Yes,” he answered, giving in to her demands.

“Yes? Yes… is that all you’re going to say?” she countered. “Don’t you have an explanation as to why you’ve written nothing, or why you couldn’t tell me the truth from the start?”

“What do you want?” responded Christian without a moment’s thought. “Look, you don’t understand what it’s like.”

“Well tell me then!” demanded Amelia.

“I can’t…” he paused, sorrow filling his voice, “… I can’t just go and whip a story up from mid-air when there’s nothing to grasp at. I need foundations and space to work with. Stop crowding me Ami, and stop pushing please. I can’t give an explanation to you when I can’t explain it to myself, and just supposing I could, how on this earth could you have possibly helped?”

With temperatures rising from both Christian and Amelia, the room around them was growing dark in contrast to the sun streaming in. It was as if there was nothing else in the room, with the walls closing in around them, pushing all the air out, boxing them both into the smallest space possible, as if they were left to fight for that last gasp of fresh air.

“I can’t keep focused with your constant interruptions, Ami. You of all people should know that.”

“I… I thought we were partners Christian, in it together no matter what,” tears welled as she spoke out. “Perhaps our relationship doesn’t mean as much to you as it does to me. In fact, it’s obvious it doesn’t. Oh and pray tell me what interruptions, Christian? You’re mid-morning coffee refills?” she asked, but didn’t stop to let him answer. “Fine, I’ll stop bringing them through to you and you can interrupt yourself to go get your own if that’s how you want it to be!” Amelia’s hands flew all over the place in a fit of rage as she shouted at Christian, holding back the tears.

This wasn’t the first time they had argued, but the disagreements were becoming more frequent as of late. There was always a trigger that would set Christian off on one, but this time it was Amelia that had started it, and she was determined to finish it.

“I’m done playing games with you Christian. I’m tired of arguing with you. You and I, we have something, but if things don’t change, there won’t be any you and I for much longer,” stated Amelia as the first drops of tears were released.

“And how do you think I’m feeling right now?” asked Christian, his heart now heavy. “Do you not think for one moment that I might be feeling just as bad? It’s my neck on the line here, it’s my deadline that’s due with nothing to show for it. You shouting at me won’t help with anything. I mean it’s not exactly encouragement Amelia, for Christ’s sake. Just give me some space, some peace and quiet. That’s all I’m asking for right now. Some time to clear my head and get some work done.”

“Space…?” She retorted. “Is that what you want? Fine, I’ll give you some space!” shouted Amelia as she promptly left the room, slamming the door shut behind her. “Oh, and you know what? Don’t expect me home for dinner, and I’ll be sleeping in the spare room tonight,” she continued to shout as she stormed off, her voice fading into the background.

Another door slams in the house as Christian turns back towards the computer. He rests his elbows upon the desk and buries his head deep in his hands, with his fingers wrapping round his rugged black hair. A silent tear falls from his eyes and lands upon the open planner, blurring the words written on the page.

Silence surrounds him once more as he dares not move for making noise. The only movement he makes, is shy and steady as he lowers his left arm, placing it on the desk. It just touches the top of his planner and no more as he re-reads what he written within it. Another silent tear falls as he realises his argument was petty and could have been handled better than it had been, but he left it as it was, hoping that some time to calm down would be what’s best for them both.

He was now too angry with himself to write anything. Instead he rose from his chair and sat on the floor in the middle of the room, only to lie flat on his back with his arms under his head. Trying all he was taught, to calm his nerves and steady his breathing. Try as he might to find some peaceful sanctuary, it wasn’t working. He could hear Amelia still storming about the house, doing the best she could to make as much noise as possible to wind him up even further. He battled in vain to block it all out and slowly he began to win that battle. More silent tears fell from his eyes as he slowly fell asleep, there on the floor.

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