Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cipher of the Heart

“I’m not angry, I’m sad.”
I stared at my screen and frowned looking at the words. The enticing aromatic curl of my late night coffee drifted about my head as I stared at the screen.  I must be more tired than I thought. I don’t remember typing those words up as part of my document.
A discrete peep alerted me that one of my writing buddies had just logged on to Skype and so, distracted from my writing tasks, I exchanged a few replies, bewailing my lack of motivation with my newest novels planning. Joe gently booted me back onto my task, making me promise to send him a copy of my character synopsis in the next two hours.
I set my coffee down beside my laptop, determined to complete the document in good time.
“Shore cheated on me. My family had adored him and now they don’t even want to see me. They tell me its my own fault”
The words flashed up on my document as I minimised my skype screen.  
What on earth was going on?  I know for sure I’d not typed those into that document. I didn’t even know who Shore was.  My story focused on a young womans struggle to come to terms with her a-sexual existence; exploring her family and friends reactions and perceptions of what that meant for them and for her and certainly didn’t smack of some chitzy romance storyline.
I clicked my virus busting program over and allowed it to sweep the entire system as I sipped my cooling coffee. Asimov, my aged tabby, sashayed his way around my legs and with an agility and grace I could only hope to have at his relative age, leapt onto my desk and settled into his spot beside my laptop.
As my hand automatically caressed Asamov’s silken head, I though about the strange words. It made sense that Clara drew on a traumatic experience; fortified by the lack of support and understanding by the ones she trusted and loved. Though, I’d always imagined Clara as being quite aloof from her family. I smiled. Characters always had a habit of surprising me with tidbits of information. I momentarily forgot the source of this new insight.
The virus busting program pinged a message informing me that all was well in my I.T landscape.
At the same time a new line appeared on my document.
“and I want sex. Lots of it. Enough of being a nun.”
My eyebrows puckered. I shut down the program and turned my laptop off. Although my expensive virus seeking missiles hadn’t picked up a snooper; I was now certain it would be one of my friends who had log ins to my system and had some how manufactured this ‘chat’. This elaborate joke was going on long enough.
Asimov stood and stretched; placing his velvet paws ontop of my laptop. I crossly shooed him away, certain that he too was in on this little joke.
After booting the laptop up again, I changed all my passwords and set my security up to the highest level and went and made myself another coffee, impressed with the ingenuity of whoever was behind the prank; but peeved it was another distraction from my work.
Flicking the laptop open again, I took a deep breath in and calmed my thoughts.  Some of my writing colleagues understood my method of unveiling characters; but most quickly changed the subject, stared at me with disbelieving eyes or made some disparaging quip.
I allowed my energies to settle and seek Claras world and story. Once I felt connected, I began to write, permitting my fingers to fly across the keyboard as images, words and questions flowed through me. I stopped and rechecked my work, scanning for in-congruencies. The last sentence sends a shot of dread through my body; its silver fingers clawing its way downward.
“Why are you punishing me for your inability to accept your own sexuality?”
This was some cruel joke. Screened from the turmoil of the world to focus on my writing career, I had gradually shut out any face to face friends; preferring the company of those living thousands of km away and in different time zones. Toiling over my words, I could block out memories of my failed relationships, of rejection and loneliness. I lived through my characters questioning deep universal ponderings in their world; allowing my own to remain grey and unremarkable.
I frantically looked about my small room; expecting to see the tell tale signs of tiny security cameras and for Joes conspiracy predictions on the lack of personal privacy to be played out in my house.
I looked at the blinking curser on the page and tentatively tapped in “..Clara?????” All the while I felt ridiculous and waited for the crew of “GOTCHA” to bounce out of my wardrobe and inform me that I had been elaborately set up only to then be ridiculed on reruns and youtube for years to come.
The curser moved. “Always here and waiting.”

Story inspired by the [Fiction Friday] prompt at Write Anything and submitted to JM Strother’s #FridayFlash  

Prompt - A writer’s computer begins to flash messages on its screen, as if trying to communicate.


Anonymous said...

Very good story. You did a great job with the prompt. The messages from . . . are really well done. They become more and more threatening. Super.

John Pender said...

I can imagine Asimov stalking my office while I type. Good work on the description.

J. M. Strother said...

I've often heard writers say their characters take over while they are writing. Seems Clara is just more forthright and up front about it. Of course, now Clara will have to introduce Shore.

Good story.

Adam Byatt said...

The thing that really gets me into the story is trying to understand the protagonist and Clara's understanding of their own sexuality, one sure of it and the other repressing it. I love how a short story can say so much and yet leave a whole lot more to be explored, and doesn't have to be.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

This was a really, really good story.
Sucked me in from the get-go and wouldn't shake me. Completely engrossing and so very well told.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I love it when characters come to life, and they often have surprising things to say. Brilliant flash!

Jen said...

This is a great combination of good general idea with personal tragedy. Like Icy, I love it when character's come to life. I hope mine never do. They'll know too much about me, too!

Walt said...

I liked that the messages flashing on the screen were more than one or two words. It adds a chilling element when the virus/person is viewed as something/someone capable producing throughout provoking sentences.

Very comfortable pace through the story. It was a pleasure to read.

Uncle Tee said...

Excellent. I loved sucked right in. I love the addition of the cat, solidfies the story.