The Black Screen

Source: httpsresources.matcha-jp.comarchive_filesjp201502p1312204.jpg 

Disclaimer: Completely fictional. Not intended to hurt anyone. Inspired from “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova.

The silence that greeted her at 6AM every morning was the one she had always loved. The morning birds chirping, the ocean that hit the shore and cascaded away, all became prominent in the calm silence. True, this was always evident during the late night walks along the beach, but her attention then used to be directed toward the hand that held hers, with all else becoming the romantic music, embellishing the regular to fantasy.

Today, she sat there, in front of the glass wall, beyond which lay the silent ocean. She had her laptop perched atop the desk, with a blank document open, waiting for her to type out the beauty she saw. She looked at the screen, then looked up. Someone walking down the stairs caused her to look around. She saw this beautiful man walk up to her and say, “Good morning, darling.” He gave a small peck and checked the screen. His small smile turned forlorn and he sighed, deeply.

“Why do you like the beach?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“What if you get sand in your device?”

“Hahaha!” she couldn’t help but laugh at his innocent, child-like remark.

“I’m serious, Zoya.”

“Alright, I shall take you seriously. I don’t know why but water has always been an inspiring source, I suppose.”

“Why not use a book? And a pen?”

“Have you seen my handwriting? Even I wouldn’t be able to understand what I write!”

“Oh, come on!”

“Everyone is allowed hypocrisies, so stop judging!”

“What do you want to write about today?”

“How about I write a chapter on you?”

“And have me published, with all my flaws? No thanks.”

“I love your flaws. I love you for your imperfections. They make me feel secure. I could use them as leverage later when I  grow old to be fat and ugly,  you know.”

“I will stand by you, come what may, Zoya. I promise.”

The promise echoed in his own head, years later today, as he looked at her, her “device” propped in front of her, the beach she so adored with the waves crashing at the shore, just beyond the glass wall.

She looked at the man. She felt oddly secure and yet didn’t really feel much. She didn’t have anything to say to him and even if she did, she didn’t know how. Just like she didn’t know what to fill the blank document with.

“I think I have writer’s block. It hasn’t lifted in days now!” she complained.

They were at the new beach house they had bought for her to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city during the summers, to write. Her next deadline was approaching and she hadn’t written much. The publishers weren’t threatening to drop her yet but she was still becoming anxious.

Her favorite spot was the desk which was strategically placed in front of a huge glass wall. The ocean was right in front of her and the sound of the waves gave her the perfect background score to type out her thoughts. On some days, her husband would play the grand piano, adjacent to her. This never disturbed her. The music and lyrics always went hand-in-hand. This was one of the ways she sprouted symphonies – many of which were published.

“How do you want me to console you this time?” he asked.

“Well, remind me that I do know how to write, considering I feel as though this is my first attempt, my first book, all over again.”

She sat down and curled up against him. She felt a little sick.

“Hey, you are my favorite author in this whole world. You pulled Graham Greene out of the top spot and sat there with the very first sentence you spoke to me.”

“I want to write a book which will pass through generations, have people breathe in the paper to travel several worlds with a sniff and feel the touch of those they could never feel,” they chimed together.

“It was the most crazy and weird start to a small talk I had ever heard. You just had me then and with the book you are about to write, I know you will have me all over again.”

She looked up at him and smiled. She didn’t say anything. Neither did he. The laptop made a sound which caused them to look toward it.

“I’ll get the charger,” he said and left her side.

He shouldn’t have. It caused her to flinch and her smile faded into dread. She stood up and moved away from him when he returned to the room. He realized that something had gone wrong. He began to approach her but stopped in his tracks soon. He noticed the dread turn into fright.

“Hey, it’s okay. It’s just me. You were working on your laptop. It is about to die. I just brought you the charger. Or do you not want to work anymore?”

“I..I..uh..can..not,” she mumbled.

“Well, that’s okay. You can go upstairs and rest then.”

“No. Write…I can’t,” she said.

He looked away then. He couldn’t look at her anymore. “I’ll send Vanessa. She’ll help you go upstairs and rest.” He walked away. He was finding it difficult to contain his tears.

“I won’t be the person you’ve always known. The person you’ve spent twenty-five years with. I won’t be the same. I won’t be able to speak, write, anything. I’m sorry..” she said to him one night.

She had been surprisingly strong since the diagnosis. She was more worried about his life, after her.

“Will you stop it? You are just fine! You are how you’ve always been. Please, stop it,” he begged her.

“All the things that made you fall in love with me will fade away. One morning, I’ll wake up and look at you, unable to recognize this face.”

Her strength and indifference to the painful words she was speaking scared him a little. He realized that she had accepted her fate and he hadn’t.

“Who knew it wasn’t writer’s block that kept the words away from me.”

She looked at the back of this beautiful man. She wanted to respond but she couldn’t. She didn’t know how.

“I’ll send Vanessa. She’ll help you go upstairs and rest,” she heard him say. He then walked away. She felt helpless. She had so much to say but she just didn’t know how. Her frustration streamed down her cheeks and she broke down completely. She couldn’t recognize this man. She didn’t know if she could trust him. Was he trying to help her? Who was he? A chapter in her life she couldn’t write? She just didn’t know anything.

“A book to remember?” he asked. “That’s a nice definition of a book one would remember, always.”

She was surprised that her random rant would be met by eager ears. She smiled at the beautiful stranger.

“Yes, even those who have a tendency to forget! Haha,” she said and they laughed.

The laptop beeped. The blank document visible for a moment. No words would ever be written by the same hands on that blank screen. It was almost as if it knew. It allowed the room to see it momentarily and then it went black.

Dhwani Hariharan

P.S. I know it has been very long since I wrote something. So here goes…Happy brewing, happy reading! 🙂







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