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 was doing to tell me what is on her mind.
“I think you should write a story about a guy who thinks about soliciting a hooker at Vegas. I know how it sounds but just listen for a moment, it’s not quite as lurid a story as 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 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 off a website, so what?
“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 them is almost inexplicable. If one were to listen to her explain it, they were 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 her outlandish whims.
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 infrequent and irregular and when she does appear it is always without warning and never, it seems, when I need her the most. This makes the sporadic quality of her suggestions all the more maddening.
A few days ago, I was seated at my kitchen table impatiently waiting for her to make an appearance. She out of nowhere sauntered down the stairs nonchalantly ignorant of my mounting anger. Her jet black hair was unkempt, matted, and tousled, a picture-perfect example of bed head. Her evident laziness did nothing to alleviate my fraying nerves.
“Good morning,” she rasped out as she strolled past me wearing little more than a yellow tank top and a pair of blue panties with pink trim. She smacked her lips as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
“It’s 6:00 at night,” I said.
“I suppose I overslept just a little.”
“Yes, ‘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 her eyes opened 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, commentaries of the human condition, and a larger statement about life as a whole. Dog stories don’t quite live up to those lofty aspirations as fun as they are to write.”
“I forgot that you were such a pretentious author.”
“I am not pretentious. I just don’t want to perpetually write stories about dogs.”
“Man, you love to exaggerate. You don’t write dog stories that often and you seemed to like my other dog story ideas. What about the one, which one am I thinking of? Oh right, the one 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 the dog story ideas I’ve come up with so far. Besides, a lot of my ideas 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, are a little suspect even if I did eventually write them down. For example, I’m still not sure whether the story about the couple at the kitchen table qualifies as a story. It seems more like a transparent boast of our extensive vocabulary, or at least our ability to use a thesaurus. The story about the baseball player painting his teammates making mistakes was a bit silly as well. It felt like an inside joke.”
“I admit that perhaps some of my ideas could have been better. Sometimes, though, I think my ideas are fine and it’s your fault when it doesn’t come together. Remember, it’s your responsibility to make sure the story meets your ridiculously high standards. I mean, you’re the one who’s actually writing them, right? I’m just saying.”
“It may surprise you but I 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 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 and 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. Sometimes I truly wonder whether you respect that when you provide me a halfhearted suggestion like yet another dog story.”
She slammed her cup against the kitchen counter shattering it. A sea of coffee flowed across the countertop and gathered into tiny brown waterfalls as it fell 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 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, often when and where I’d least expect. Indeed, I ran into her a week later as I walked my dog through the nearby woods. She wore a yellow overcoat along with a blue scarf and earmuffs that matched the color of her coat. Spring had just arrived but it was still cold in Washington. She looked away from me as I approached.
“Having trouble?” 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 long time to me.” She locked my arm with hers. “I’ve come up with a ton of ideas that I’m just dying to tell you.”
The two of us shall always be together. She cannot escape me any more than I can ever escape her. For I am her and she is me, my Calliope.
“Anyway, about that dog story idea I was telling you about last week…”
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