Not a concrete story yet, by any means. I just sat down to freewrite and this came out. So far, the interior monologue of an uneasily woman who decides to become a writer. I would love reactions at this embryonic phase of things, in case I should continue.


Well, she supposed she could always start drinking. Except, no, she could not. Alcohol smelled too much like enamel, like industrial floor polish. And bars were sloppy creatures much like their drunks—damp, lugubrious figures. Sloshing, slurping, spilling, singing, spewing. She even hated "s"s. They were impossible to articulate in a way that wasn't diffuse and messy, much less so when inebriated. No, no, I'm ess-ss-suh-sober. I uhs-sss-wear. No, no, no, not that.

Better to take up smoking. That, at least, allowed the cultivation of a sort of style—a smoky—literally—glamour, playing the cigarette between your fingers, worrying it like a secret: lit, deadly in the bony corpse hand. Heroine chic. Blue veins and bruised eyelids. A habit for which a femme fatale pout was mandatory to blow the fumes from your lungs, and the clavicle was the only thing that was obvious. Mysterious, moribund and oh, so, hot. She was allergic to smoke. It made her throat close up as she coughed and choked in resistance. Femme fatale. Dead woman, not deadly.

Injection could be an option, but it wasn't. The appeals of intravenous drug use were the erotico-medical properties of the needle. The last she had seen one, however, she had seen nothing else until she heard the sound of the approaching ambulance that woke her.

There was always sex. However, sex as a thing in and of itself made her queasy—it was the sound that it made, like a plumber working on a stopped-up drain. There was something shameful about being a defective piece of piping. Much less fucking a plumber. She had never been able to just do it to do it. So to speak.

Suicide. Yes, but didn't that seem a little… much? And what about… useless? If one believed in the eternity of the soul, this mind would follow her where she would go anyway. She thought that she maybe might, and she didn't want to take any chances.

What she really wanted to do, she thought, was vomit. But that made a mess—a circular conclusion—which brought her back to where she had started. Besides, it would get all over the place and she would have to clean it up, except this time, it would be decompressed, external. And so because she couldn't drink or smoke or dope or fuck or puke, she wrote.

She confined her mind in sentences, in stanzas—self-threats and little rooms. All she knew was that she needed some way to get it out of her: the diseases festering damply within her from soaking up the world like a sponge, the varnish of slobbery germs around her from taking the emotional temperature of every room she ever entered like a psychic thermometer. It wasn't hers to begin with, she didn't want it. She rejected it, she gave it back. She wrote fiction, she wrote poetry.

She tamed her obsessions, shaped them, cut them down to the neutralized size of an impeccable phrase: a clause, even. Say, for instance, that woman, the one who sat next to her on the train, the nervously friendly one who had managed a conversation with her, and seeing the umber-violet bruise that covered one of the woman's hand, she suddenly couldn't think of anything else but the inexplicable certainty she felt that the woman was dying. It made no sense, nothing about it made any sense to her but her certainty. Later, she described the significant bruise as an inkwell bursting just under the skin and felt better. However, she still laid awake at night and thought of other names: leukemia, anemia, hemophilia, AIDS. She thought the word "chorea," how it sounded almost pretty, like a woman's name, how in Greek, it meant "dance." They medicated people for thoughts like these nowadays, she was sure.

Artists, however, were expected to be crazy, because there was something inherently crazy about artistry. It was all the singular craziness embodied by one person walking up to another and uttering the word Listen.

So she would be an artist.