The apartment was clean. It was cleaner than it had ever been since the occupant had moved in. The floors were mopped and waxed, the laundry dried, ironed, and folded into place. Every piece of dishware had been washed and polished. The furniture was impeccably neat, all in order, not a lamp out of place. The refrigerator and kitchen cabinets had been cleaned out too, new groceries in place. Everything was perfect, except the occupant.
If we’re talking about appearances, the occupant himself matched the spotless place. Earlier that morning, he had gotten down to the barber, and now sported a neatly trimmed beard, and hair that slightly curled at the nape of his neck. He wore a crisp, white, cotton shirt tucked into khaki slacks, with loafers to match. His watch gently ticked away on his wrist, each passing of a second matching his heartbeat, in almost perfect synchronization.
He had done everything but the one thing he should’ve been doing.
Should; he disliked that word.
Have to; even more so.
Sighing, he sat down at his desk, preferring to maintain a professional façade, rather than a passionate one. Whenever he was in his apartment and struck by creativity or an idea that had to be jotted down in black and white, he’d sit in front of these odd, large windows in his living room. He didn’t like clutter when working, so he’d cleared out space in front of those windows. The platform was quite literally just that, an empty space with two steps to get up on it. All the world’s a stage and whatnot.
But this day had brought with his need to keep the place in immaculate condition, a need to forego the creative process, and just write. Anything would do, as long as the words appeared on paper or screen. He didn’t even have to do it wholeheartedly, he didn’t have to put his heart into it at all, but he had to write something.
He tried to settle into his chair and switched on his laptop. He squirmed a little and rearranged a few things, in a futile attempt to find comfort. A deep breath and reached for the keyboard. Fingers poised right above the letters, he paused. Maybe he’d check up on his readership from the previous stories he had written two days ago. Later, he realized what a bad move that was.
His stories didn’t have very many views. Some had about a hundred if they were lucky. The most views on a story were over five hundred but still less than a thousand. His shoulders fell.
He didn’t understand the point of it all anymore. No one was reading what he wrote. And if anyone was reading, did they even try to comprehend the hidden meanings behind subtle expressions; did they recognize the effort put into the subtlety, the sleight of hand, the cards being shuffled unscrupulously?
No one tried to understand the cleverly concocted metaphors, the dark symbolism. They didn’t understand the thought process and the emotions that went into the writing, and why should they? They had better things to do than read the ravings of a self-proclaimed author like him.
His insecurities settled comfortably inside of his head, as he began to read his own works, criticizing himself in every other sentence, thinking himself unworthy of having the skill to write, if there was any skill he possessed to feel unworthy of.
Suddenly, all energy deserted him, leaving him feeling washed out and weary. He didn’t want to write anymore, because there was no point to it. If he had no readers, and he couldn’t stand to write for himself anymore, what else was there to write for? He put the laptop away, undressed and dressed more comfortably.
Unlike before, the windows did not beckon him. The platform did not make him feel welcome. They were not alive anymore if they had ever been so, in the first place. There was nothing magical about some wood and glass.
What was written on paper died on paper.