I stare at the computer screen. A blank document glares back at me, the cursor blinking obnoxiously, as if to say, 'get to work, you lazy bum! You have a deadline!'
And don't I know it. I received several calls from my editor today, half-hysterical, half-enraged ones as she screamed into the phone, "YUKI GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR AND FINISH THE DAMN BOOK!" A pause and then she broke down, her voice trembling, as she bawled at me in a loud sob of a voice, "We're so screwed! Yuuu~uuuki! Please, please, I'm begging, finish this book! The publishers are gonna cancel our contract if you don't keep up on your deadlines! Yuuu~uuuki! Don't you DARE hang up on me, damn it!" She knows me so well, I reflected as I hung up on her. I must work on being less predictable.
Even the idiot called a few times from work, yelling loudly into his cellular phone, "Yuki! Did you finish that chapter yet? YUKI! You'd better have a chapter finished by the time I get home! Or…or else…or else…" he was at a lost for threats, before someone, most likely that redhead who always looks at me as though he would like to throttle me for stealing his best friend, gave him an idea, "OR ELSE YOU WON'T GET ANY! …FOR A WEEK!" I hung up on him, resolving not to show how much that bratty streak of his got to me through gritted teeth.
The phone calls took place several hours ago. The phone is now disconnected; I can work in peace. But I can't. The computer screen is still blank. My thoughts are still clumsy and unorganized when I bother to think of the book. Maybe it's too quiet. I stand up and cross the room, turning on the radio. Commercials. I change the station. More commercials. Change it again. One of his songs is playing. I leave it on that station for a moment, my hand resting lightly on the radio. A small smirk crosses my face. He's so…innocent. His songs are so light-hearted and even the slow ones make one feel happy. Shuuichi. You're mine.
And although no one will ever hear it from my lips, I'm glad of it. I don't want anyone else to have this bouncy bubble of warmth and happiness that tumbled into my life. I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but I did it and he's mine, mine, MINE, and I'm selfish, and no one else can have him!
But I'll never let him know. He's got a big enough ego as it is.
I change the station. This time it's a light jazz ensemble and I leave it on. I go back to my desk and sit in my chair, leaning back and trying to look anywhere *but* the blank screen and angrily blinking cursor. I close my eyes and let the music wash over me, trying to blend myself with it, relax enough for ideas to surface.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I let out a low growl and stand up again, walking angrily into the kitchen and jerking open the refrigerator. Maybe food will help. I slam the refrigerator shut and open the freezer instead. Ice cream. Sweet, cold, creamy vanilla ice cream. Maybe that will help.
And chocolate sauce. Chocolate sauce is very inspirational.
I scoop myself a bowl of the sweet stuff and drizzle chocolate sauce over it with an odd sense of satisfaction. I abandon the empty cartoon and dirty ice cream scoop and instead, carry my snack back into my office.
But the ice cream doesn't inspire my writing although it ceases the hunger pangs gnawing at my stomach. As I slowly eat the ice cream, I can't help but thinking about Shuuichi. He loves ice cream. He'll be angry when he comes home and finds out I've finished it. Maybe I should go get more…no, no. I don't want him to think I care too much. It's hard when people know how much you care. They expect and take so much from you and it's worse when you know they care back. Because then you're torn, wanting so badly to live up to their expectations, wanting to give back and still…wanting the same from them. And not getting it.
I sigh and slowly eat the last melting spoonful of ice cream. Sweet and cold. Funny. That's Shuuichi and I. He's so sweet and I'm so…cold. I should tell him that, he'd find it amusing. But then, maybe I won't. Shuuichi takes everything to heart…I don't want to know how he'll warp my little comparison and then cry when I don't understand.
Another sigh escapes my lips as I push the empty ice cream bowl to the side. It was good…but still no inspiration has come. Only more rambling thoughts about Shuuichi. For a moment, I have the incredible urge to pick up the phone and dial his cell, to tell him to come home – but for what? Shuuichi has no new ideas for me; Shuuichi can't help me think about this God-awful book. But…he always knows how to put it into perspective. "New novel? Wah, Yuki, you must be so happy! Like when I get to sing a new song…I'm so happy. Because I love to sing…you love to write, da?" His naivety makes me smile. I don't write for the love of it. I did, once upon a time. But once upon a time is over. And I don't know if it's ended happily or not.
Maybe Shuuichi is right, as much as I hate to admit it. Maybe I should call up my editor and tell her to rip up the contract, that Yuki Eiri is through with writing trashy novels with sexy scenes for fat, tired old housewives to envision themselves living and for young teenage girls to squeal over and to tack the book jacket with my picture on it over their bed. That Yuki Eiri is through with the greed and money he's succumbed to and from now on, when he writes, it will be because he wants to. About what he wants to write about. Not because his fans want it, his editor demands it, and lifestyle depends on it. No more catering to the whims of others…yeah right.
I'm a good liar. To everyone…but myself. I can see right through my noble thoughts down to the heart of me. I don't want to change. I'm…satisfied with my lot in life now. Content, even. And sometimes…even happy. Not very, too much happiness scares me. But a little. A little happiness in small doses…is good.
Nearly four hours have passed since the last phone call, since I tore the plug out of its jack. And I still haven't written a word. I'm not going to write a word at this rate. Not one single goddamned word!
I let out a frustrated growl. I was going to bed, never mind it was only four in the afternoon. Sleep cures all and what it can't – alcohol will.
And alcohol had already failed me.
I sighed and slowly, dragged my feet into the bedroom. I had a feeling this book was going to break me rather than make me.
When I open my eyes, it's because the slight creaking of a door has awaken me. I can feel him peeking in, his eyes resting on my softly and I know there is a warm smile on his lips. He can be, very sweet when he wants to be. Slowly, the door creaks closed again and I hear him padding away into the kitchen. I groan, force my eyes open and stumble back into the office, staring at the blank, cursed screen.
The cursor mocks me with it's steady blinking.
There's a creaking at the door again and I know he's looking at me. I don't say anything and after a moment, he tiptoes in and sets a steaming mug beside my unmoving right hand. "I made you some tea," he whispers, as though afraid to break my concentration.
I nod and after a moment, lift the mug to take a sip from it. He's finally learnt not to boil tea, I realize idly, taking another long, slow sip. He's still watching me. "Did you want something? Shuuichi?"
"Can-can I read in here? I promise I'll be real quiet and not interrupt your work," Shuuichi asks in one breath, his words blending together with the speed at which he was talking. But I've become used to it, I know exactly what he's said.
"One word-," I threaten, but he's not concerned with my threats. He's smiling and trotting in, wrapped up in a scraggly old blanket he refuses to part with and with a stack of American comics tucked under his arm. He can't read English very well although he can speak and understand it with relative ease. Knowing that, a while back I translated some of those stupid comics for him and he amuses himself to no end with them, laughing with delight over the dumb puns and overall idiocy of the entire comics.
It's really, rather cute.
But I say nothing and stare stolidly at the computer screen, uncomfortably aware of the way he settles himself on the couch, the way he arranges his blanket over him and the way he settles his papers, the translations on one side of his lap and the comics on the other. Slowly, giving in, I lift my eyes to gaze over the screen of my computer and see him, a small smile playing on his lips and soft pink strands fluttering over his face, leaving only a glimpse of the clear blue of his eyes. He turns suddenly, meets my eyes, and smiles happily. I scowl and cut off eye contact, training my eyes on the screen before me.
And slowly, I feel the ideas engulf me. My eyes close and I let the new ideas play over me, rolling them over and over in my mind, rejecting some to make room for new ones. At last, I have the outline of the plot for the next chapter in my mind and my hands move as if to start typing the ideas out. But I restrain myself and instead, run the ideas through my mind again and again, writing segments of the chapter and then revising them mentally until it all seems to flow seamlessly. And then, I let my hands go to the keyboard and begin to type furiously, my fingertips slamming into the keyboard with my eagerness and speed until the whole room seems to echo of the banging the keyboard is making.
When I look up, I realize I've written eight pages and that there is no longer any sound coming from Shuuichi. I don't hear the muffled giggles, the shifting of papers, or sighs as he squirms about on the sofa, trying to make himself comfortable. Curiously, I stand up to look over the computer and see that he's fallen asleep, gripping some of the translations loosely in his left hand, his right hand hanging over the edge of the sofa and the comics spread every which way across his body and the floor besides him.
A faint smile turns up the corners of my lips and I cross the room, removing the papers from his hand and lifting his other arm back up onto the sofa, gently tucking the blanket around him. He makes a faint sound and clutches at my hand and for a long moment, I stand there, gazing down at him, feeling my hand clutched tightly in his own. At last, almost reluctantly, I draw away and return to my writing.
But even as I work long into the night, the clacking of the keyboard softened in consideration for Shuuichi, I already know who this book is dedicated to.
For Shuuichi. My inspiration.