Ivy stayed up all night looking at her screen.
What to write? Please, God! Just give me one ounce of inspiration to help me write a story! Please! She kept pleading.
She sat there in front of her computer, drink in one hand and the pen on the other; the screen monitor taunting her.
It took her about 3 hours, at best, to realize she is never going to be able to write anything good today.
So she gave up.
She decided between sleeping and finishing her second cup of coffee and taking a stroll down her library. She looked out her window and decided to the latter.
Her library looked a lot like an ancient one; roomy and full of hard bound and leather bound books – some of them journals. She went to the far right corner, as usual, and looked for journals she hadn’t read yet. She found one, next to a blue leather bound tattered book all covered in dust. She picked it up, careful to not damage the cover and dusted it off.
She took it with her to her computer.
She began to read.
I woke up from the sound of the alarm. It’s 6-o’clock in the morning. I have nothing else to do but sit around and mope all day. I just finished the last part of my trilogy and am pretty sure my agent will come screaming when she reads it. So I get up from bed and prepare myself for the expected meeting. The hands of the clock turn, and time passes. An hour… two hours… two hours and a half. I was beginning to be nervous. Usually, if I kill off my main character, she storms in my loft and lectures me of why I shouldn’t do such things.
“Jake, you could’ve just injured him or something.” She would say. “Why kill them? Do you have no sympathy for your readers? They love your books! And they anticipate for a better ending!”
To which I always reply, “I kill them because I get bored. It’s as simple as that Janine.”
And we’d engage in an endless debate. On and on and on. We’d go like this for hours and she knew she could do nothing about it. My book is done and my main character is dead. Period.
But now, after constant repetitions, I am beginning to think she’s had enough. I sit idly on my sofa and turn on the TV. I was halfway into finishing my coffee when my doorbell rang. I looked at my watch, half past nine. Incredulous as I am that it would be Janine, I answered it.
Lo and behold! My agent has arrived. I smile inwardly and greeted her.
“Janine, my darling! How are you? What took you so long? I was beginning to wonder whether you have tired of our constant bickering and you being so angry after I finish another trilogy.” I said mockingly, sarcasm written all over my face.
“Very funny, Jake. Would you mind letting me in?”
I stutter in disbelief. “Uhm.. sorry about that. Come on in.”
I took her coat and hanged it by the sofa. I offered her coffee but she refused. She sat down and sighed. This is not good sign, I told myself. I sat down beside her and placed my hand behind her back.
“Janine, is everything alright? What’s wrong? I’m sorry I killed off the main character… and hoping this would make it better, I added, again.” I was surprised at how quickly I said those and how true they were. This was a rare moment.
“Hey, come on. Talk to me. Is something bothering you? Something at home? At work?” She took a moment and sighed again. I got up to bring her a glass of water. I hurried to my kitchen thoughts flooding my mind and I panicking. I was getting nervous. She had never been this stressed in front of me before. I took the pitcher out of the refrigerator and poured the water in a mug. I hurried back to her to let her drink and after a few calculated sips, she spoke.
“Jake,” she said not looking me in the eye, “bad news.”
“I pretty much deduced it. You ready to talk about it yet?”
“Actually, no. But I fear what might come next is a bit more of a shock to you than it was to me. I heard about it only this morning.”
Okay. I did not know what to say.
Jake, she’s dead.
SHE’S DEAD. I knew who she was referring to. HER. She was referring to her. Thoughts filled my mind. Images of our last night together. Her laughter. Our fight. THAT night.
After saying it, she couldn’t help it. She burst into tears and I was there sitting beside her dumbfounded. I wanted to comfort her, tell her everything’s going to be alright. Everything’s going to be fine, Janine. This is all just a bad dream. It’s alright. It’s okay. All these words. Left stuck inside my head. I couldn’t utter a single word out of my mouth. I couldn’t even shed a tear.
I was still there huddled up in my pajamas and listening to Janine’s sobs when thankfully my phone rang. Thank God for this sudden jolt back to reality. It was a blur after then. What I could remember was me telling my agent to cancel all meetings and appointments for the next few days. I will be going back to my hometown. I will go back to where it all began. I will go back to her.
What about your book? You’re due next month you know?
I’d figure out a way, somehow. I promised her.
What happened next was a series of phone calls and favors, and in matter of hours, I was on a first class flight back to the Philippines.
Ivy finished and got her fifth cup of coffee for the night. And like a programmed robot, she resumed reading; tears beginning to form under her eyes.
I remember reading one article in the Reader’s Digest journal about a traveler who loved sitting by the window. He said, I loved it because there was nothing I could do. I would just sit there and look at the view, and it was marvelous. Everything was perfectly still, and yet everything was moving. Simply beautiful. I was a lot like him, sitting beside the window when I travel in vehicles, so that I could see the view. But now as I travel home, I feel numb. Halfway through the flight, I wanted to jump overboard and kill myself. She is dead. How on earth am I supposed to live and be merry when the very person who’s the source of it all is gone? I keep asking myself why it had to happen when I was not with her. I wasn’t even there to see her, or hold her hand in her dying moments. She’s no fair. She said she’d tell me when the end is near. Well, she didn’t! I was torn between anger and remorse. And to top it all off, I’m due a chapter. How could I write now when all I can think of is her and our memories together? I called a flight attendant. I knew this simply won’t do. I need to calm down.
Can I get a sleeping pill and a glass of water please?
She nodded and went on her way. A few minutes later she came back and handed me both things I asked for and bid me adieu.
I nodded her and thanked her then.
I took the pill and within moments, I forgot about the reality of her death as I slept.
The hour I spent with thee, dear heart
Are a string of pearls to me;
I count them over, every one part,
My rosary, my rosary.
It was written in a card and it was placed by her coffin. I remember this poem. It was the poem our Filipino teacher had us translate once. I smiled as I saw it. I took the card and taped it to the lid of the coffin. I looked at her face. Still as lively. How ironic. She looks livelier now, than I last saw her. The last time we saw each other, we fought. I left and she cried. Or so I heard from the others, our friends.
Ivy was crying now. She didn’t know but she continued, now with tears still falling down her eyes.
You left me!
Is that how you’ll always remember it?
It’s the truth!
No, you want to be right! You want to be right! You want the satisfaction of not being in the wrong side of the tracks, always. You never wanted the truth! Because if you had wanted the truth then you would have listened when I told you that I wanted to stay and be with you always! I was screaming my lungs out now. She was down on her knees, crying.
No. No! No! You left me, still. You weren’t here when I suffered. It hurt Jake. It hurt like hell.
Yeah well, leaving you hurt even worse!
I began to feel tears welling down my eyes and suppressed them.
I mustn’t cry in front of her. I must not.
I stood there. Looking at her small figure. Crouched like a lowly person begging at someone’s feet to understand them. I looked her and I knew I could not hide the tears away anymore.
A tear fell down my left eye, and I didn’t care. They fell like waterfalls and in no time I was beating here at the amount of water my eyelids are producing. She took me by the arms and caressed me. She comforted me. I was sobbing in her arms. Just like I was that time when we were kids and I didn’t get the present I wanted for Christmas. She took me by the arms, and whispered in my ear.
I’m sorry was all I could say in return.
The letter was well hidden. I wanted to have something of hers in my person when I leave for the next flight so I went into her room and looked for her scrapbook. She was always an artist. She was the art I always wanted to draw. If only I could. She was the only art I cared enough to understand and love. She was art. She wasn’t always beautiful but I know better now. That art was not supposed to be perfect or beautiful. It was supposed to make you feel beautiful. And being with her was a maze of emotions. She was art for the very reason that I saw myself in her. And yet she wasn’t me. I love her. I will always, always love her. Always.
I tuck the letter inside my jacket’s inside pocket and leave the scrapbook behind. This’ll do. I tell myself. This is enough. I tell myself.
The book has now become wet with her tears. She couldn’t control them.
She was there, looking at her screen, rereading the words with both sorrow and astonishment. Truth really is funnier than fiction. Writing fiction requires a lot lying. But to tell a good lie, it must be rooted to one simple truth. She didn’t know if these were all true but she knew for a fact that the words made her feel something. The words were her truth.
I now have story, she thought.
And with that she read the seventh chapter.