The fountain pen dropped. With it spread all of its black ink on the floor that she had filled only minutes before. Perhaps its nib had broken too. It had been a gift from an old friend, a mentor, on her twelfth birthday who told her that she would do wonders with this pen.
Only this would have been a dream unfulfilled. Someone else’s.
Only she had been trapped—tricked into believing that she could write.
Though there were times that she had actually written—letters to people, to God, had been published in children magazines and won contests, but it had never mattered to her. For her, only one story mattered. The one she was born with. The one that she carried wherever she went.
She did not even look down at the white floor which had now been stained. Another friend lost, she thought. Another dream shattered.
Her gaze drifted from the notebook to the sky outside the window which showed a streak of white light.
The sun would be out soon. It was 5 am.
Another night of insomnia gone. Another day looking forward to be lived. It had been two years precisely, she recalled. Two years since the nights veiled her, the days depressed her. Two years since her first rejection. ‘No ma’am, we’re looking for something more solid, something more interesting to grab attention.’ She couldn’t tell him but that’s what my life has offered me all those years.
She had remained silent.
She had waited.
No shortcuts. No references. She had walked the long way. Actually she had preferred the pain. The fruit you eat after a hard labor is always sweeter. She remembered his mentor’s words. But the fruit didn’t seem to be coming.
5: 10 am. The sky was almost blue. Clear. Crystal. The two-day continuous rain had washed away all the dirt, drained all the filth with it. But she was not impressed. It had brought back all the colors too. The greens of leaves, the browns of trunks, the gray of the winding road below. The rains had stopped making sense for her.
Why did the heavens cry? She knew it was never meant for her. But she had yet to find out.
The first time she had entered the office with her blue notebook, the man hadn’t even looked up at her. He didn’t have time for amateurs.
Then came another rejection and then another.
A woman asked her if she had been published before. She gave her the references. But the woman with the parrot nose and hawk eyes said, You don’t understand dear. Not these little articles in tabloids and magazines. A Solid hardcopy. Yes dear, that’s what I’m talking about. It had been a voice firmly practiced. Gentle but firm. Gentle but lacking the kindness of a humane tone.
She began detesting the word ‘solid’. Solid plots, solid copies, solid writings, solid publications—but her life had never been considered solid for once.
5: 23 am. The ink had dried by now. There were no signs of rain today. But it had left its signs nevertheless; the cool air hitting her face, the umbrellas still hanging in people’s balconies, the muddy trails in park’s neighborhood and the bugs that had come out of nowhere—the weather had surely changed.
Her story was still unfinished. All her interviewers had wanted a drama, a twist and a climax. But her story had been even and unwavering. Not exactly happy or happening—it had been woeful—but unflattering. Maybe, she thought, maybe it was time to add a climax.
She picked up the fountain pen with the broken nib from the floor seeped with ink.
Maybe this time, they will have a story with a climax and an ending.
The clock read 5:29 am in the morning.