The page falls in a glorious arc from the table top to the floor where the stark black letters stare up at me from the crisp white expanse, daring me.  Double dog daring me, in fact, to follow them.  I turn back to center, forcing myself to face the typewriter once again.  I grab the next clean sheet of paper and wind it into place, and release the guide.  I can feel the words on that last page as if they had become corporeal and now stand watching over my shoulder breathing lightly upon my neck.  The need to read them is so intense that my heart palpitations have become a countable thing, and the shaking of my hands is only steadied by griping the arms of my chair till my fingers go white and my nails bite crescents into the old oiled wood.  I take a deep breath, count back from ten, and close my eyes.

You can do this Doug.

The mental encouragement helps, as much as the ritual.  Disappointing as always.  Still, I find a way to loosen my grip.  I flex my fingers over the keys and crack my neck, careful not to let my eyes wonder from the blank page before me.  I find comfort in the clean white rectangle of paper.  It does not mock me in its emptiness, it beckons.  Do your worst, it says, or even your best just…begin.

I’m nothing if not obedient.

I give voice to the page in a barrage of keystrokes loving the meticulous clack of each letter delighting in the ding which punctuates each line.  There is no thought, only flying fingers.  The story is reduced to the deadly dance playing out before me as darting letters wing back and forth mere milliseconds from disastrous tangles.  I do not allow myself to reread lines, or to doubt the words I have chosen.  The page flows through me, complete and whole, and blossoms before my transfixed, though unfocused, eyes like a lurid bruise. 

I hate it.  Absolutely and without regret, I loath it.  The second it is finished I tare it from the roller and cast it aside.   Do not look I tell myself let it just exist…there is no need to interact with it.  My hand reaches automatically for the next pure page, an empty vessel, just waiting to be filled.  Perhaps I am wrong.  Perhaps, I do not long to fill the void in this most pristine canvas, because the blank paper was never actually blank.  That clean, crisp, virginal slice of paper was actually full to brimming with possibility.  Instead, I long to destroy rather than create.  I gorge on that hopeful promise of what could be one heavily inked character at a time.  I am a thing addicted, consumed by the notion that if enough possibility is devoured something of worth must result.  So I binge and purge, binge and purge.  However, the result is filth, surely, no more than literary graffiti.

The insight in no way slows my progress. 

I burn through the stack of possibility at my side as if it were water and I a desert wanderer, with no regard or appreciation.  I hold the last page between my thumb and forefinger with so much force it starts to wrinkle.  So ends my story I think with such sorrow that I almost laugh.  But I never typed The End.  Why would you have done that I wonder.  I start collecting the scattered pages, and as my pile grows curiosity wars with anger.  Why should I even bother reading this it’s guaranteed to be fire fodder?  Though as I grab the final sheet off the ground a line catches my attention.

“The page fell in a glorious arc from the table top to the floor where the stark black letters stare up at Doug from the crisp white expanse, daring him.  Double dog daring him, in fact, to follow them.”

Why not?  Aren’t you already down the rabbit hole?


By Jeannette Woitzik