|Influences||James Moloney; Frances Hodgson Burnett; John Kinsella.|
|Bio||I'm a second-year student, studying for a Bachelor of Education (primary). I've always loved writing, but it's difficult to find the time to enjoy it without the guilt of feeling that I should be studying, especially since I study online. I live in Adelaide with my partner and my dog.|
When Words Don't Fly
I rub my temples.
My fingers motionless on the keyboard.
Blank screen in front of me.
Not that much.
But the screen is mocking me, weeks of self-isolation and fear over a global pandemic taking their toll. My thoughts are sluggish, motivation sapped. My coffee is lukewarm in the mug beside me.
“Once upon a time…” No. Too cliché. And besides, I’m not in the mood for fairy tales. Maybe I should watch a Disney movie, get into the right mindset?
But no, that won’t help. I’ll just end up lying on the couch all day. Again. Ugh. I just want to go to a café with some friends. Maybe I should go for a run. Exercise might stir my brain a little. Oxygenate my thoughts.
My lips curl mirthlessly. I already know I won’t go running, although I’m painfully aware that it would be good for me.
“When I was younger…” No. Backspace, backspace, backspace. I have a vague plot outline in my head. A girl who can talk to animals. Or maybe she can turn into one? I don’t know. Now that I’m thinking about it, it sounds stupid. The sun is reflecting off my neighbour’s solar panels and directly into my eyes.
Why is this so hard! This isn’t an essay. It’s meant to be fun! I love writing! I read somewhere that the secret to keeping sane while the world is on standby is to dust off old hobbies. Take some time out. Reconnect with yourself.
Writing used to make me happy.
But today, the words won’t flow. Maybe it’s just that now I associate my computer with study. When I’m sitting here without my textbooks open, I feel guilty. Like I’m wasting time. But I’ve worked on my latest assignment all week to the point where I hate it. I need to do something else. I have no commitments beyond uni. I can’t even visit family. I think I’ll go call Grandma.
The sun has moved. The shadows of my window-sill herb garden are distorted across the carpet. I can see dust particles drifting in front of the window. If I breathe out strongly enough, they dance around in the sunbeam.
A footfall outside makes me start slightly, posture rigid in my cheap computer chair. Then comes the jangle of keys and the unmistakable click of the front door, and I relax. It’s Thomas.
But- “How are you home from work so early?”
“Babe, it’s four o’clock”
Have I been sitting here that long? Surely not. I only watched a couple of YouTube videos, made one or two phone calls, and played a tiny bit of Zelda. I can’t have wasted six whole hours.
Shake my head.
He gives me a small smile as he sits to take off his boots, absently rubbing his thumb over the sore spots on his feet. He doesn’t complain about work anymore. We both know he’s lucky to still have a job. I should ask him how his day went.
I breathe in. And then out.
“I feel useless.”
It’s not what I mean to say, but the words drop heavily from my tongue of their own accord. I haven’t had a job for months, way before people started getting sick. After we moved to the city, I dragged my feet, holding out for the one job I actually wanted. The job I would enjoy. I finally got an interview, but then everything started closing. My application was put on standby. Now I’m sending dozens of resumes but nowhere is hiring. I’m not contributing to this household.
And I just wasted another day doing nothing.
“I feel like I’m going crazy because I’m not doing anything. I miss home and all my friends and family, and I thought it would be cool to enter this writing competition, but I can’t think of anything to write. I’m so dumb. I’m literally worthless.” My words sound like whining, but he knows I mean them.
He stands. Walks over to me. Kisses the top of my head despite the greasiness of my hair. Maybe I should have showered.
“You’re not doing nothing. You’re at university. Just because you aren’t physically going to classes doesn’t make it less real. And you know it’s okay that you aren’t working. Lots of people aren’t right now. As long as you’re still applying to places, it’s out of your hands.”
“I know that. I just don’t feel it.”
He takes my chin in his hand and runs his gaze over my face in a way that feels tangible.
“Have you been sitting here staring at your screen all day?” He meets my eyes. I can only imagine the circles around them. I nod.
“Have you eaten?”
I nod again. Mostly snacks. Lots of them. No actual meals. He knows me well enough to read it in my expression.
“Okay. Here’s the plan. You go and shower, I’ll heat up some leftovers and we’ll both eat. I didn’t get time for lunch today. Then we’ll go for a walk around the block, and then see if you feel better.”
I love him for this, and I tell him so. I stand.
The sky has changed. Orange and pink tendrils spread softly between the clouds, making gentle patterns the room.
I don’t feel as worthless and empty now, but the blank screen issues a challenge to my good mood.
“Babe, it’s just a piece of creative writing. You’re good at this stuff.”
I hadn’t realised he was behind me.
“There’s nothing to write about.” I sound like a petulant child, brow furrowed, lips pouted, arms crossed in front of my body.
He presses a kiss to my forehead.
“Then write about nothing”.
It’s simple. Brilliant. I cannot believe I didn’t think of it. He sees the change in my face and smiles.
“I’ll bring you coffee.”
I rub my temples.
And place my fingers on the keyboard.