There’s my flat-gold paper pack of cigarettes, the 234, purchased straight from the factory in Surabaya. Unavailable anywhere else in the world.
Here’s a tumbler of Glengoyne. Sentimental attachment. Room temperature. Not rare at all, I just like what I like.
The room’s interior is white plaster walls, the warm side of white, and dark wood everywhere else: hearth, floor, molding. There’s a sunrise just to the left of the small door that opens to a small iron balcony.
My desk is also to the left of the door, but on the inside and not the outside like the sun. An escritoire with a typewriter I actually use, next to the laptop I rely on. There are papers and postcards in the little cubbyholes, probably for show. My seat puts me in front of the doorway, so I can step out and look five storeys above the city, when I need to, or immerse myself in an unfettered breeze.
Not doing that now. Now, I’m looking at the bookcase on the left wall. There’s another behind me, just like it but different books. It’s all reference material: every manual and textbook ever mandated by any and all of my English, writing, and editing classes. Couldn’t bear to give them away or resell them to the school. Partly because it’s still great information; partly because the school gives you bullshit for them and marks them up 1000%.
I get up and pace the floor. There’s a soft spot in the boards before the right-hand bookcase, and I try to recall it’s there and step around it. There are portraits on the wall, flanking the “sky door” (I call it), but these are just old, kitschy pictures that came with the place. Evoking the feel of the old city, unrelated to me or anything else in here.
“How’s it going?” she says, outside. Quietly for her, but loud enough to drown the cars and wind.
Her voice, three mere words, sends pleasant shivers up and down my body, but this is hardly professional to admit. That is to say: it does nothing to help me progress, and if I told her, she wouldn’t care.
I clomp back to my chair. I seize the back of it, drag it pointedly across the age-polished hardwood floor, and throw myself into it. “Badly,” I yell back at her.
“I could give you some.”
“You keep saying that, but then you−”
“But it would mean more if they came from within you.”
“−backpedal with a weak-ass platitude.”
The room darkens as though a quilt of cumulus has been sharply drawn across the greater metro area. Out the door, a mane of curly brown hair blocks all light and muffles the street activity. A tall and wide cheekbone rolls into view like the moon in fast motion, and fringed by thick, healthy eyelashes a huge hazel iris hovers just above the iron guard rail, its pupil flexing and enlarging to peek into my studio.
“Attitude, mister,” rumbles her voice like thunder.
As frightened as I am of her sheer power, and as erotically charged as the fact of her existence is for me, succeeding each of these is my irritation. “Right. I’m sorry, I’m not mad at you.”
“It’s just November first.”
“I know, that’s what I’m saying−”
“Do you remember what that means?”
“Yes, and that’s why I’m sit−”
“Yes, I do, my Goddess. That’s why I’m studying the spines of−”
“What does it mean?” The gust of wind roaring at the outside stucco must be her own jet stream of irritation from her nostrils. The detail of her lower eyelid tensing and swelling like that would almost entirely be lost, were she around my height, standing in this room across from me. As it is now, it’s a grand gesture that carries much gravitas.
I swivel in my chair, rest one elbow on the escritoire and the other on the chair back. Inhaling slowly, I stare back into that large and penetrating black pupil. In it, I see the fishbowl reflection of the room I’ve rented, the property I’ve brought, and my own sauciness. “It’s National Novel Writing Month, my Goddess. I’m committed to writing another novel during the course of November.”
She blinks, and it’s hardly believable how something so huge, even an eyelid, can flicker that quickly. “And how’s that coming along?”
“No ideas, my Goddess.” I sip my scotch. “But I’m going to sit here until I write something. This I vow,” raising my tumbler to her.
I can barely hear the honking of cars far below, through the thicket of her luscious dark hair. Dark as the woodwork in here, in fact, and that makes me long to leap from the balcony into her mahogany tresses.
Her lower lid swells again, but rather than squinting at me with displeasure, this time it means there’s a broad and warm smile just below my balcony. “Don’t make me wait too long, ma petite épée.” Her massive head drifts away from the view and ambient light floods my room once more.
Make her wait. All the muscles and tendons in my body spark with synaptic overload as I go yook-goon, but I close my eyes and scent the scotch from my hand. I bite my cheek and slowly turn back to my choice of writing media, place my hands upon the keys, and… wait.