Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled My Spiritual Codependence. Please enjoy.
She appears to me at the most inopportune moments. When I’m at the gym, when I’m driving, when I’m at work, even when I’m in the throes of passion with a woman. She doesn’t care. She’ll appear out of nowhere to interrupt whatever it is I am doing to tell me what is on her mind.
The worst part is, more often than not, I’ll feel compelled to write down whatever she says interrupting whatever activity I was engaged in. Needless to say, some activities are easier to put down than others. I will just leave it at that to spare my younger or more delicate readers the sordid details.
Ideas flow from her skull like river water into a basin, though the quality of her suggestions is erratic, to say the least.
“I think you should write a story about a guy who thinks about soliciting a hooker in Vegas. I know how it sounds but just listen for a moment, it’s not quite the lurid story it must seem right now. It’s more earnest and thoughtful than it first appears.
“How about a story where a dog dies protecting his master? It’ll make people cry. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it.
“I know. A story about two people in a conference room, one a woman and the other is a man. The woman is pointing a gun at the man telling him he must give her a good catchphrase otherwise she’ll blow his head off. So I got the idea from a website, so what? I’m the one who’s going to take the story places.
“I’ve got this great story about the perils of online dating. It’ll provide excellent action and satire all at the same time, like a good Arnold movie. Okay, I was kidding with that last part.” And so on.
Often her ideas will seem almost magical, pulled from a supernatural source destined to be put on a page and read by all. Other times they seem to be the words of a charlatan grasping at straws to come up with a satisfactory idea to satiate an editor’s lust for a ‘story of the week.’
Where she comes up with these ideas is almost inexplicable. Supposedly her ideas are pulled from the ether that is her mind though there are times one cannot help but wonder what kind of media she consumed to come up with these outlandish manifestations.
Yet doubtlessly I need her. I would go so far as to say that I could not possibly hope to write without her. This is why it is so frustrating that her visits are frequently irregular without any warning. She never seems to appear when I need her desperately. This makes the sporadic quality of her suggestions all the more maddening.
I was seated at my kitchen table one time impatiently awaiting her appearance. Frustration was building though my companion was oblivious. She sauntered down the stairs nonchalantly as she was ignorant of my mounting anger. Her jet-black hair was unkempt, matted, and tousled, a picture-perfect example of bedhead. Her apparent laziness did nothing to alleviate my fraying nerves.
“Good morning,” she rasped out as she strolled past me in her yellow tank top and a pair of pink panties with light blue trim. She smacked her lips in an apparent effort to get rid of her dry mouth as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
“It’s 6:00 at night,” I said.
“I suppose I overslept a little.”
“I suppose ‘just a little’. I could have used your help. I’ve been staring at a blank page all day.”
She took a large gulp of her drink and opened her eyes widely. “Then you should drop the attitude and be happy that I’m here. I come bearing good news. I have a brilliant idea.”
“We’ll see about that. What’s your idea?”
“How about a story where a dog-”
I cut her off. “Another dog story? What is your obsession with dogs?”
“What do you mean? Don’t you like dogs?”
“I love dogs but it seems like every other story idea you come up with is about dogs or wolves or some sort of canine. Dog stories are well and good but I like to write a variety of stories and frankly, I want to write stories with deeper themes, motives, commentary on the human condition, and a larger statement about life as a whole. As much fun as they are to write, dog stories don’t quite do that.”
“I forgot that you were such a pretentious writer.”
“I am not pretentious. I just don’t want to constantly write about dogs.”
“Man, you love to exaggerate. You don’t write about dogs that often and you seemed to like the other dog story ideas I’ve come up with. What about that last story I thought of with the two neighbors arguing over their dogs? You seemed to like that one.”
“I did, but the dogs were simply part of a tapestry that told a larger tale about how two neighbors could triumph over petty differences and attain a mutual understanding.”
“I’m having a hard time believing you aren’t pretentious when you spew crap like that.”
“It’s not crap. It’s an accurate depiction of the story.”
“Bad choice of words, I’m sorry. My point is that you’ve liked my dog story ideas that I’ve come up with so far. Besides, I’ve come up with lots of ideas that didn’t involve dogs and you seemed to like them too. You wrote them all down, at least.”
“Some of your ideas have been fine, I admit, good even. The quality of some of your ideas, though, is a little suspect if I did eventually write them down. For example, I’m still not sure whether the story about the couple at the kitchen table actually qualifies as a story or a transparent boast of our extensive vocabulary, or at least our ability to use a thesaurus. The story of the young man walking in on his parents during intercourse seems like a crude anecdote more than anything.”
“I admit that perhaps some of my ideas could have been better. Sometimes, though, I think my ideas are fine and it’s your responsibility as to whether the story meets your ridiculously high standards. I mean, you are the one who’s actually writing those stories down, right? I’m just saying.”
“Actually, it may surprise you but I will begrudgingly agree. The issue is often not with you but instead with me. I must admit too that some of your ideas are nothing less than inspired. I’ll even go so far as to admit that some of your ideas are brilliant, to borrow your term.”
“Then why are you so mad?”
“I’ve wasted an entire day waiting for you only to hear you conjure up yet another dog story.”
“Not every idea can be a masterpiece, dude. You need a story every week it seems. It can be a bit trying at times. I think Lovecraft only came up with about two or three stories a year, you know? You have me working all day every day without any breaks.”
“You haven’t even provided me any ideas for my next novel yet.”
“I’ve given you plenty of ideas.”
“Nothing that will get me recognized as an elite author.”
“Is that the only reason you are doing this? For attention?”
“That and to create art and believe me, some of the ideas you come up with wouldn’t be fit to write onto a bathroom stall.”
She slammed her cup against the kitchen counter, shattering it while unleashing a sea of coffee which spread across the top and fell into tiny brown waterfalls to the tiled kitchen floor.
“Do you want to switch places? I give, I give, and I give and all I ever hear from you is criticism and insults. I come up with all the ideas, I tell you what to say, and do I ever get any credit? Do I ever even ask for any credit? Never, and yet all you ever do is insult me.”
“It’s your job to provide me with ideas.”
“I still would like some appreciation.”
“For doing what is expected?”
“You know what? If that’s your attitude, I’m leaving! Goodbye!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t leave.”
Before I could protest further, she turned and disappeared as if by magic.
I did not fret. I knew I would see her again. I knew she would always appear before me whenever I truly needed her, often where I’d least expected.
Indeed, I found her a week later as I walked my dog through some nearby woods. She wore a yellow overcoat along with a pink scarf and earmuffs that matched the color of her coat. Spring had just arrived but it was still cold that early Washington morning which explained her attire. She looked away from me as I approached.
“Having trouble writing?” she sneered.
“I’m sorry for hollering at you,” I said earnestly. “I need you. I can’t write without you.”
She turned and smiled. “Apology accepted. Man, I’ve really missed you, you know? I know we weren’t apart long but it still felt like a while to me.” She locked my arm with hers. “I’ve got a lot of ideas. I’ll tell you them as we walk.”
She is not one to hold a grudge and is always easy to reconcile with. The two of us could never truly leave each other. She cannot escape me any more than I can ever escape her. For I am her and she is me, or at least a part of me, my Calliope.
“Anyway, about that dog story idea I was telling you about last week…”
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