My god, is writing a pain. I mean real writing, like writers do. Like novels and stuff. Frankly I don’t know how they do it.
The only way to do it is to do it. No other way works, apparently.
And so – after long dark nights of despair, after fantasies of writing, promises to self about writing, fidgeting and faffing instead of writing, I have (yes, I know) dusted off, metaphorically speaking, the god-damned, hated, shoved-into-a-pile of yellowing printouts, its high-time-you-abandoned-this novel. And made a fresh beginning.
It’s one of the things I always promised myself: I will not die before I have published a novel. At this rate I’ll be here till the next millennium.
Here – don’t steal this, okay – are the opening pages.
The little girl frowns. Cherub lips pursed, angel brow furrowed. Concentration incarnate.
Hair a halo of bright curls on the pillow.
Chubby hands clasp his rough cheeks as he bends forward to kiss her.
“Why did you have to go away?”
“I was working, sweetheart. I told you, remember?”
“Yes,” Sarah says, uncertainly. “But I missed you.”
“I missed you too. Lots and lots. But I’m here now, aren’t I?”
“That’s good.” Sarah yawns. Her pink tongue, sharp little teeth, like a kitten’s. Her mouth opens and closes. One fist strays across her cheek and jams into her eye.
“I don’t like it when you go away. Mommy gets cross with me.”
“Well,” David says. He tucks the crocheted blanket, a gift from his mother, carefully under her chin. Pries her hand free. “Well. Perhaps mommy misses me too. Maybe mommy is sad when I’m not here.”
“Yes,” Sarah says, decidedly. “I think mommy is sad when you’re gone.”
“Well then.” Watching as much as listening to her solemn breathing. The fluttering of wings at her mouth. “Perhaps I should go and be nice to mommy. What do you think? Shall I go and be nice to her?”
“Yes. You should be nice to mommy.” Sarah’s voice distant, dwindling. Another big yawn.
The fond father tucks a curl behind the little girl’s ear, brushes a darling strand from her forehead.
“I think you should go sleep now. I’ll see you in the morning. Okay?”
Her eyelids are closed.
“I love you, see? Sleep tight sweetheart. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
Sarah turns her head, as if to shake it, but she is fast asleep already.
At the bedroom door David hesitates, looks back at her, a small warm mound under the blankets. Then he turns out the light.
In the kitchen Margaret is clearing up after dinner. “There’s still some wine left,” she says. Her back to him. “The glasses are on the table.”
“Should I top you up?”
Her voice, garbled. Something or other.
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“I said, are you going to have some?”
“Maybe. Probably not. I might have a whisky.”
“You have what you like. I’m not going to do all of this. You can finish up in the morning.”
Margaret is shoving things noisily into the dishwasher. David watches for a moment. Approaches from behind.
“Leave it,” he says. “Come and sit down with me.”
“I will, in a minute. Let me just finish doing this.”
His hands, of their own free will, have begun quantifying the volumes of her belly, her ass, her hips. They come to rest at her waist again. “The dishwasher can wait, can’t it?” Her precise form and mass, breathing, silent. She is here, but not present. “Margaret,” he murmurs. His hands drift upwards to her breasts, sensing their perfect shape, their weight, their solemn fullness. He nuzzles her neck.
“I need a few more minutes, okay?”
“Go pour yourself a drink. I’ll be there when I’m done.”
“I’ll top you up,” he tells her.
The living room is dark, but there is still light in the walled garden, and pale stars over the horizon. The french doors are open. The trace of Margaret’s roses hangs on the night air. All I want is you, you only. The question is, do you want me also? He wonders about that, sometimes. Whether she wants him. She is always distracted. There is no-one to blame, it is a question of circumstances. The two of them working, him away so much. Having a child, certainly – that has to be part of it. The simple fact of being worn out most of the time.
“Dinner was lovely,” he says, when she joins him.
Copyright Glen Fisher 2016