"Take a writer away from his typewriter and all you have left is the sickness which started him typing in the beginning." -Charles Bukowski
He tried to tear himself away from his typewriter several times that night. The stubborn nagging sat at the forefront of his head, poking and prodding his consciousness to put the project aside; to let it go for the night. Still though, he slaved tirelessly over it. The attention to detail he was putting out was killing him. Remembering every detail of the raven haired enigma set him on edge. It didn't seem to matter just how clearly he tried to conjure her up in his imagination. It had only been three days, and the small facts were lost to him.
He slammed his fist down on the desk in frustration, lamenting his inability to gather up all the small ideas. Like the way she would crinkle her nose when they walked by a certain potent tree near her house in the Spring. Or how she would curl up her toes under the blanket right as exhaustion was beginning to hit her. He had trouble imagining what she looked like shirtless, or how she smelled right when she got out of the shower. She used the same body wash and body spray every day; intent on sticking with it for the rest of her life. "Assuming they never go out of business." she would joke, crossing her fingers humorously. The bottle of body wash still sat in his shower, but it didn't smell the same at all if it wasn't on her skin. There was something severely lacking and superficial about it when it was in the plastic bottle.
Eli tore the paper out of the typewriter without properly ejecting it, causing the bottom to tear off. Glancing to it, he grimaced and crumpled it into a ball. He let it drop to the floor and leaned forward, resting his head in his hands. It'd only been three days, how could he have let so much about her slip already? It seemed almost impossible that one could forget things about someone they spent the better part of a year with. He could easily remember how they met, or their first night together. But he had already written about those things. He wanted to capture the smaller details. The things he took for granted about her while she still had color to her pale cheeks, and her chest still moved with every breath she took. The minor flaws and bits of perfection that he effortlessly glazed over. He chided himself now for not noticing them sooner. It was so easy for Eli to get caught up in his guilt. Mulling over his wrong-doings was a familiar pastime to him now. He almost didn't know what to do with himself if he wasn't considering the errors and mistakes he'd once made. Somehow, recounting the events didn't prevent him from repeating the actions again. It was the most counter-productive thing he could do with his time.
His eyes lifted from the cursed contraption and went to the cup of coffee that he had sitting on his desk. Reaching for it, he sucked in the liquid and winced slightly as it stung and settled on his tongue. The minor pang of discomfort managed to bring him back into the moment. His gaze fell back to the typewriter. Julia had given it to him, as a sort of gag gift. She had a way of enjoying his discomfort or irritation. Keeping true to this tendency, she came to his house one day carrying it. He could remember that day more clearly than anything at the moment.
"I got you a gift." she said in a peppy tone, a mischievous smirk painting her features. Eli's eyebrows raised questioningly, watching as she set it on his kitchen table.
"You got me a dinosaur? Thanks Jules." he replied, his voice crass but full of humor. "Why did you get me a typewriter? We're kind of in the age of word processors, if you didn't get the memo."
She didn't miss a beat when it came to rolling her eyes at him. As he would realize later, he would come to pick up that mannerism from her. Gracing him with her signature expression, she shook her head and smiled. "You say you're going to be this fancy ass writer, right?" She placed her hands on her hips. Eli could see where this was headed, and he was already amused by it. It was just like Julia to present him with a challenge. "You can't be nearly as good as the classics if you don't use the same tools as them. They didn't have spell check or a backspace key. So neither will you." she said brightly with a hint of spiteful glee in her tone.
"And what is this supposed to prove?" he challenged, ghosting his fingertips over the dusty and worn keys. It looked like it had been used for years by someone else. He wondered where she had gotten it from in the first place.
"That you're capable. Also, I just like giving you challenges." she relented, shrugging her shoulders playfully. "What, Goldy? Don't think you can handle not having that backspace key?" she egged him on, walking closer to him.
Eli snaked his arms around her waist and pulled her closer. "You are such an odd girl." he mumbled, kissing along her face. "But since I enjoy humoring you, I'll use it." he promised, not fully recognizing the challenge of the task. "What do you want me to write about?" he whispered, his lips brushing against her skin as he did.
"Write about me." she replied plainly. Her bluntness struck Eli as odd, but he didn't make a fuss over it.
"You? That should be easy then. You're my muse." Eli smiled and caught her ear lobe between his teeth, bearing down on it softly.
He could feel her breath hitch and he laughed to himself, full of satisfaction at the gesture.
From then on, Eli threw himself into the work. At first he got irritated quickly, frequently making errors and deciding to throw out countless nearly finished pieces. With practice, he got more skillful and careful at typing away on the rusty contraption. Each night, he would come home and write about her. Anything about her. Be it what they had done that day, or something he noticed about her, Eli was never at a loss for things to say about the girl. He would keep the finishes pieces in a folder that he left on his nightstand. Frequently Julia would grab it and thumb through them, raising her eyebrows or chuckling to herself occasionally. Eli always enjoyed watching her reactions to his writing. She usually looked like she was simultaneously amused and disgusted by how soaked with adoration his words were.
"I don't know how you can write about me like this." she said to him one night.
"Why?" Eli inquired.
"You write about me like I put the world into focus for you. Like I'm the focal point of everything."
Truth be told, she was. But she never took kindly to his blunt admissions of love. She preferred that they be more subtle, or in a physical form. Julia was quite the enigma. He never could figure out what she wanted.
Instead he just nodded, returning himself to the typewriter.
"You are the focal point. You are the start of everything. My life revolves around your existence. So don't leave me." he wrote that night. But she never got to see that one.
It infuriated him to no end that he found himself incapable of capturing her in his writing anymore. Somehow the typewriter took on a more negative tone for him, each click of the keys just begrudging him the inspiration he needed. It was beginning to feel like more of a curse than a gift. How was he supposed to keep writing about her if she was gone? How could he possibly do it?
Placing the coffee cup back down, Eli blinked hard and got up from his chair. Grabbing the typewriter, he walked to his closet and placed it in there. He shut the door behind him and sat back down. The tears began to fall without his consent, collecting on the hardwood surface beneath him. She was slipping so quickly. No words could bring her essence back into focus for him. So he did the only thing he could do. He quit trying.