I’ve been reading too much Borges

I went to visit Adam today. He’s been so busy lately, though there hasn’t been anything to show for it. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been typing furiously, pen scratching on the paper and head bent over the desk. There’s a mountain next to him, a pile of crumpled paper on the desk that’s nearing his head. It’s been threatening to fall for a while now, and today it had actually started to drift to pieces. Adam didn’t look so well either.

He’s gotten a bit haggard. When I knocked he opened the door and I was shocked, breath pushed out of me. His eyes are so wide, and ringed with shadow. It looks like his skin is bruised, and I swear he’s gotten thinner in the past few days alone. He smiled when he saw me, though. He stepped aside and ushered me in, and started to talk.

“I’m breaking through it, this stupid writer’s block. You know it’s not something that happens much to me. Just the past couple weeks, and my god I’ve been going crazy.”

“I know,” I said. “I know you have.”

He snorted, and plucked the paper from his desk with a flourish. It was a gesture at odds with his appearance, like a beggar bending in a courtly bow. I took the paper from him, and the words rushed from him.

“I’ve come up with this new character. Theodore, I think his name is. Theo maybe. He’s brilliant, just the answer to everything. I’m sure I’ll figure out his story – I think probably he’s a writer too, don’t roll your eyes, but he’s a writer and he’s having this trouble with, I don’t know, someone. Anyway he’s clever and a bit disheveled and all kinds of screwed up, the kind of guy you can’t talk to for five minutes without wanting to edge away a little. You know what I mean?”

I nodded, and skimmed the paper he’d given me. It was a description, simple, of the person he’d just described. It didn’t seem like much to me, except that it was the first paper in a long while that he hadn’t crushed into a wad and tossed on the top of the growing pile. So I gave him a hug, and told him I was glad. I didn’t stay long, because Mary was waiting for me. We were going to go out to dinner.

***

Yesterday I saw Adam again. When I headed over there I was thinking that he’d be so much happier, looking healthy, smiling. Once I saw him, though – he was smiling, but he’s shrunken and shriveled more than ever. It looks like his skin is withering on his bones. He was so enthusiastic though, jumping around and talking, a prancing skeleton with a mop of unwashed hair. He was telling me about Theo – he had to remind me, that was the character he’d made up. This guy lived in a little apartment, and he was dealing with his father’s death only a few months before. He had a situation with a woman that he wasn’t quite sure of – I interrupted here to ask Adam, pointedly, how he was doing. He really just wanted to keep talking about how Theo was doing.

I could see, clearly, that having something like this to focus on was giving him energy. The motivation, the drive that I’d always seen in him was there, stronger than ever. He practically quivered with the intensity of his excitement. It looked like that energy was disappearing from his body even as it filled his mind. He kept babbling about Theo, and waving his arms. I thought he might fall.

After a bit I got him to sit and eat some cereal. There didn’t seem to be much other food in the whole place, though I searched the cabinets. I found some old cereal, sour milk and a rotten bunch of grapes in the fridge, and a drawer full of dry spaghetti. He was eating cereal when I put some water up on the stove, after washing out the pot. The spoon shook as he brought it to his face, and he had to concentrate on feeding himself like something he was remembering how to do. I made him a pound of spaghetti and put it in the fridge, and I didn’t leave before I made him promise to eat some at least twice a day. I think he only waited for me to shut the door before going back to his desk and his pen.

+++

To be continued, once I have written more of it. Also! A drawing of mine and an accompanying snippet of words were published today here.

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