It’s been one of those weeks when I didn’t like anything I wrote. So I spent a lot of time doing what this character does.
This story could have ended in very different ways. Initially, I was going to go super dark, which would have made it an entirely different concept. But taste might have been an issue. (Seriously. Super dark. UPDATE: More on that below.) It wasn’t self-censorship, per se. The words simply guided me toward a smaller truth than a big, “gotcha!” finish.
If anything, these Fiction Friday exercises are causing me to regularly evaluate the purpose and structure of the short story. The jury is still out. All I can do right now is trust the process.
Stats: 305 words. Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 32 seconds.
Sitting alone in his study, Bob Newhall finally got he wanted. No wife. No kids. No dog. No noise—except for the running water of the bird fountain in the backyard. That could stay.
The kids took their toys to their aunt’s house for two whole weeks. He relished not tripping over dolls and dump trucks on his way to the kitchen. All the dishes were clean and put away, just the way he liked it. Even his wife’s shoes and laundry were either lined up in the closet or folded neatly in her drawers. He didn’t even have to change out of his workout shorts and faded college sweatshirt since there was no one to impress.
Summers always were his favorite time to write. He wouldn’t be teaching Hitchcock and Truffaut for another couple months, and his students were off doing whatever the hell his students did when they weren’t in session. It didn’t matter, really. They weren’t his concern at the moment.
Nope. Nothing but time to write.
Bob’s fingers stroked the keys to the sound of the fountain.
He sunk down in his chair until his neck rested over the back. He spun around in the same direction of the ceiling fan, trying to keep pace. Right before he got dizzy he stood up. He refilled his coffee mug, ate some saltines, and crossed the spotless carpet back to his study.
Suddenly, his fingers began to twitch. It was coming. He knew it. He looked upward as his digits did the work. He smiled as the words began to flow. This part was magical. It really was. After a while, he glanced at the screen to marvel at his creation.
Bob sighed. The dripping of the bird fountain taunted him from a distance.
He wondered what the kids were doing.
UPDATE: Haven’t read the other version yet? Click here to read “Muse” (aka “The Dark Version of ‘Conflict'”).