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The untold story

Somewhere in a suburban town, in a slightly unkempt semi-detached house, a man, alone in a darkened room, sits hunched over a desk. Spot lit by the desk lamp, he is surrounded by scrunched up balls of paper, broken pencils, the debris of his ailing mind.

He writes.

The dark creeps in, smothering the light and blurring the edges of ..

He stops and with a resigned sigh, once again drives a deep score through the words.

Staring down at the page, the lines and lines of scored prose drive him further toward failure and, with the tiniest of shake of his head, he tries again. He draws the pencil across the paper, the subtle textures vibrating through his fingers, the gentle pleasure that he knows and craves, the kiss of the muse, bittersweet.

He writes of an outing.

Jostling in time to the movements of the carriage, thermos tea sloshing in plastic cup lids, the couple stare out of the window. The morning sun plays on their faces, catching the creases of their smiles. At their feet the picnic basket, laden with food and drink, reminds them of another era, a time neither knew but they are happy to try and recreate, hoping to capture the a notion of those romantic times gone past.

He has a beginning. He leans forward to scrutinise the words, the life breathing on the page. He sits and stares.

And stares.

And stares.

He is lost, directionless after so long without direction.

He looks down at the words, again and again. Are they real? Where did they come from? These are not his, he decides, but stolen, plucked from a place he doesn’t recognise. He is a thief or worse, a fraud. He has long suspected it thus, and with only fragments of evidence to the contrary what else can he be?

He sits back in the chair, defeated. A deep breath. Concentrating on relaxing body and mind. In his hand he still holds the pencil, gently now, forgotten, unforgiven.

He closes his eyes.

With a soft jolt the train slides to a halt. The couple, childlike in their excitement, bustle their way from the carriage and out into the fresh sea air. They rush over the old wooden footbridge, slats creaking and clunking under their feet, and out onto the sand. They’ve talked of this, planned where they will go, what they will do and how they will do it, but that is forgotten as they dash and stumble for the sea in a frenzy of euphoria. Finally they are here in the abandon of the moment.

The gentle scratch of the pencil pervades his thoughts and he smiles as the words tumble on to the page, the pencil drags itself dull as it captures his thoughts, gentle loops, swooping dashes and exclaimed marks. He realises, finally, that he is writing.

And at the same instant, with that self-same realisation, comes the sudden stop. He tenses, hoping he has reacted quickly enough to catch it but he already knows it is lost, gone in the same instant it was created, the flare of the extinguished match. Once more. Again. Again.

The pencil is motionless, the paper remains virgin and untainted by his sordid outpourings.

He sits there a while, gazing at the space before him, the blurred edges of the page, the faint outline of long forgotten words. Time gathers around him and, eventually, the pencil crumbles to dust.