by Melodie Johnson Howe
The sun is pushing through thick clouds, bullying its way through my office window and onto my desk. I can see my reflection in the monitor, on the “new page.” There is nothing as white as a new page. Wedding gown? Angel’s wings? First snow? First communion dress? No. This white is as white as nothing. It is a nothing white.
My body is leaning slightly forward as if anticipating. A shawl covers my shoulders, which are slumped as if they know it’s foolish to anticipate. Defiantly, I straighten them. My hands are on the keyboard. I look down at them. They are ready to type, waiting for the idea that will spark the fingers into quick assertive action. My hair hangs forward around my face. I can see the blunt ends of it bending toward the monitor. It’s as if my entire being is drawn toward this new white page.
Abruptly my left hand goes to my mouth, the fingers press against my lips. My right hand reaches out to my mug of coffee. I take hold if it and realize I have just made two opposing gestures. I can’t drink coffee while pressing my fingers against my mouth. I stay this way for a moment. I know I did this because my mind is fighting with itself. The part that is as sturdy and hard as a rock is trying to roll over the mysterious dangerous side. I let my hand fell back to the keyboard and take a sip of coffee. The taste is familiar but the sensation is alien to my anticipating body.
The sun gives up the battle with the cloud and disappears. My office darkens.
When I was young I wrote out of anger. It was a wonderful feeling, a powerful feeling. Righteous. Euphoric. It was as if I were in a constant state of epiphany; but part of maturity seems to be finding a form, a structure to put your vibrant energies into so that you don’t dissipate them.
Could I be too formed? Too structured? A bourgeois life can do that to you. I remember when I first heard that word in school. “Sooo bourgeois”. And I knew I was never going to be “sooo bourgeois”. But I had an innate survivor’s instinct, and while I said those words with great theatricality, I sensed I needed structure.
Now I sit here with a perfectly structured “new page” in front of me. A perfectly structured computer to reflect and confine my thoughts, my restless imagination. Again I stare down at the keyboard with its numbers, commands, and letters. I honestly don’t know what to do with some of the keys nor do I care. I only care about the letters. I will use them to break that static structure to form another: a story.
As I type my refection in the monitor slowly disappears . . .