John sat in his ragged red leather recliner, half leaning on the bulge that was now his stomach. He longed to write. He thought about the prospect day-in and day-out but reluctance kept his pen from the page, a reluctance no person on the earth would ever understand.
His hand rested uncomfortably on the journal at his knee and his fingers shook only slightly, but uncontrollably. He wanted, needed so badly to put these words to paper. Not just any words would do, they had to be perfect. It was a fact he could not escape from, no matter how much writing advice had told him otherwise. “First drafts were always crap!” they had said. But not for John, each letter was a special etching of magic, each word was the incantation of a spell.
He could feel the sweat began to bead on his brow and a wave of that heat rush quickly over him. The pen touched the paper and the black ink rolled barely a millimeter in a zigzag fashion. John’s intake of breath was sharp and the moment seemed to freeze in time. His hand was steady now, his eyes alert, the sweat rolling down his temples slowed only by his graying hair.
It had been years since he wrote last. So many long years now. The worn edges of the journal gently brushed the palm of his left hand. He held the journal open, the stain of the paper calling to him. He could still taste the tang of the warm blood filling his mouth from the last time he had been so inspired. Sometimes he could hear the faint sound of those footsteps just behind him.
Pushing the thought to the back of his mind, he traced the new tale over and over. This time would be different, the best he could manage. This was the big-ticket, a real win for a worn out framer who couldn’t walk walls let alone stand them the way that he used to. Just a stumble over fifty, this was his chance to write his life new, to pull out all the stops, to make things good again. It had to be perfect. The cramp in his right hand reminded him how long he’d been gripping the pen. The dent in his forefinger painful, he spun the thing just enough to change his grip.
Clenching his teeth he let the first line flow like he had memorized. Word for word it spilled out, setting the scene. The old wood floors creaked in response and he rocked his feet to the rhythm. His pace did not slow, the words flowed perfectly as he had planned.
A waft of stale cigarettes reached him and he lifted his head to see the white linen curtains billowing slightly in the breeze from the open window. The salt air was a welcome replacement. The floor rolled beneath him and the walls buckled with a snap. The place was settling into its new layout, cool and open. Through the linen on the back french doors he could make out the rise and fall of the hills of sand that led to the beach. The sound of the crashing waves came to greet him. His old recliner shifted comfortably with the new heartbeat of the house. He lifted the pen only for a moment to take in the scene.
This was it, it was happening, his heart skipped loudly against his chest. He could feel the weight of his aging body and so set back to writing. With each word he wrote away the aches and pains that four decades had wrought upon his body. A softness moved upon his skin and the corners of the paper scraped against his fading callused hands. His lungs drank deep of the fresh wind wafting up from the shore and his heart quickened once again. It was working. Gone were the lines that marked the years about his face and the swell of his stomach he could see decreasing.
It was magic that removed the years that had torn his happiness from him. With a shudder his body settled into its newfound home. The excitement swelled within him and he knew youth again. The pen and paper fell to the floor at his feet. He hadn’t written in new clothes, he’d have to do that later after some careful thought. Writing things real was seductive but dangerous, it must be done perfectly to avoid misunderstandings. The slightest mishap could bring misery and couldn’t be undone. There was no writing away what had been writ, it was permanent.
He stood with such ease he nearly threw himself forward to the floor. His blood pumped strong through his veins. His muscles moved with a precision he hadn’t known in years. The air came swiftly to his lungs and he stretched his arms wide breathing it in. The feeling was nothing less than bliss as he walked toward the double doors, not a creak in his joints. The weight and worry of 30 years lost.
It was heaven, just like he’d planned. He’d penned every word to the letter, forgetting nothing. Gone was the single-wide trailer and mountain of bills, no health insurance and the onset of diabetes. He’d thought of it all and wrote it anew. He was a healthy twenty-three year old man again, but this time with beachfront property and a swollen bank account. He was even more handsome than he had ever been, and well endowed. Nothing was left to chance, and he snickered as he thought of the new corvette awaiting him in the circular driveway. It was a beautiful life, at last.
He almost giggled as he made for the back patio whose night lights had flickered aglow. The night was calling him. He would have a boat on the dock at the marina, it just made sense to have people to care for it when he wasn’t actively enjoying it. His smile was beginning to strain the muscles in his face. The scent of lilies mixed with salt air tempted his thoughts while he listened for endless minutes to the far-off crashing of the waves.
A scraping of cement in the background growing louder. He hardly noticed. It made a steady rhythm with the pounding of the waves. He was lost in the magic of his success. Until the scuffing on the patio forced his attention with a start. He had forgotten something.
The stranger grinned in the shadows, stepping into the light to take his chance. The eight inch hunting knife plunged into Johns side below his ribs with ease. Sinking deep into his young liver.
John sputtered in shock, coughing up a trace of blood and finding it hard to expand his lungs. He had forgotten the stranger, the madman he had written so many years ago.
Shock struck him like a hammer. He could feel the scratch of the blade against his innards as the stranger pulled it from him. The heat of his blood filling the rear of his pants. Down he went, his knees hit hard, popping like fire as they slammed against the concrete of the patio. He blinked hard to capture the fading vision of his dream come to life, but he only caught sight of the figure. An imaginary madman of his own making which had undone him.
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Published by M.R. Goodhew
Michelle Rene has been involved in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an author, copywriter and designer, and is an Indie Author Advocate who volunteers her time to give back to the Indie Author Community.
As an author of non-fiction, Michelle Rene writes books that serve to assist the independent author in developing their platform, discovering their brand, and creating the right look that will draw readers to them. She discusses how to navigate social media and addresses marketing tactics. For the author who sets up their web presence independently and does not wish to hire a designer, her books offer a wealth of start-up information, graphic design templates, and give crucial insight to the designers thought process which assists in the creation and design of the authors platform.
Michelle Rene also writes fiction which falls under several genres, including: Fantasy, Drama, Young-Adult Fiction, Mystery, and Thriller. She is currently working on a series of novels whose main theme involves the mysteries of death and the afterlife.