Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This is 15-Minutes: Smoke

Sometimes I think writing is akin to sex.

Most times, you just got to do it. Sometimes you're afraid of it. Sometimes you're afraid you can't perform well. Sometimes you don't have anything worth doing. Sometimes it's enjoyable especially when you've done it well. Sometimes it's excruciating and you think, "What the hell was I thinking?" Sometimes you get the wrong results but it's out there already. And sometimes you really aren't able to for a long, long time.

The only difference I think between writing and sex is that you can win awards for the former. (Now if they come out with the same for the latter, well...)

The phone did not ring.

Augustus sighed and looked at the offending telephone. It did not care that he was waiting for the call. It just sat there on the table, beside the half-full ash-tray and the cup of tepid coffee.

He sighed once more. He had been waiting for the call for two days now, in vain it seemed as the week passed by and the deadline lapsed. No word from them: no email nor letter, not even a text telling him whether he had achieved his dreams or not. Nothing.

So he sat beside the phone during the day, smoking his lungs out, feeling his strung-out nerves stretch even longer.

He tapped his fingers on the table top, dark varnished wood mapped with pale half-circles, the ghosts of wet glasses once placed there a long time ago. Around him, the room seemed to have drawn the darkness in as the sun withdrew its fading red light from the drawn windows. Meanwhile, an ancient clock ticked solemnly above his head like a deathwatch moth.

Still nothing.

He got a cigarette from the crumpled pack of Marlboros and lit it with the fluttering flame of a dying lighter. He sucked a breath and blew a wreath of grey smoke, swirling to form rings and rings within rings.

He felt so old. He wondered how long he could keep this up, slaving away without the simplest recognition of his efforts.

Before him, the smoke coalesced into laughing faces, silent faces, judging faces. And he thought of the people who had gone before, succeeding on their first try—or for the nth time. Some of the faces in the smoke he recognized and a brief flicker of fury burst into being in his chest before dying under the weight of his tiredness.

As the smoke dissipated, swirls of its danced in front of his eyes, turning into shapes of limbs and heads and torsos. One or two moved across the tabletop like cats, wisps of smoke from their bodies twitching like tails. At least one scratched its head in confusion, seeing the array of cigarette pack, lighter and half-empty cup of coffee, the silent telephone, before disappearing into in the stuffy air.

He sighed once more, drew in another breath, and then replenished the air with smoke. The contrails left behind two almost fully-formed figures, one with its head in its hands with the other standing beside it in indifferent apathy. It seemed like the setting of the same old story.

The phone did not ring.

Dedicated to those who keep on waiting...


dodo dayao said...

Reminds me of this old country song If The Phone Doesn't Ring It's Me.

As someone who's done his fair share of waiting(all makes and models of it with varying degrees of letdown), this hit home some, specially the part where the waiting makes you feel sooo old. It does that.

Nice one,banzai.;)

JP said...

That's the most visually vivid thing I've read by you. Very enveloping imagery.

I concur - nice one, Banzai!!!

Weird - my latest 15-mnt piece has whispy forms floating around too.

banzai cat said...

Hehe thanks guys. :)

dodo: Actually, this one hit quite close to home meself, which is why I know the feeling. ;)

jp: Ha, I knew it, we're riding on the same mind-wavelength or something.