My mother boarded writers. Itsounds like something you would write on a recommendation - and you would - ifpeople knew what you meant. Basically, or at least the way I see it, living withwriters you must learn to deal with temperamental, more intense personalities.Living with them, I accepted things that were normally disapproved of in anold-fashioned way.
When my father abandoned my pregnant mother, she wasleft with our huge house and a desire to take others in to battle her loneliness.I was told it started out as a normal boarding house, creepy, maybe, that creakedconstantly. But I supposed that was what writers like, because theyswarmed.
I remember when one would arrive, usually somber and threadbare,yet graciously accepting my mother in the same way they accepted their style ofliving. My mother understood them, but for a long time, I failed to see them asanything but zombies that interpreted the world they had so recently leftbehind.
I loved the days when they would come out from behind the clackingand scribbling by which I knew so many of them. Furious poets, mouth-twistingnovelists, sedated short story composers, just to name a few, flocking thicklythroughout the downstairs rooms. They would discuss everything like old friends,although sometimes they never knew each other's names. I liked to be there whenthe milling occurred. Listening to them made me feel as though I was in a roomwhere fire after internal fire was being ignited, made ablaze by sheets ofpaper.
That is how I met Marillus. I never knew her real name, for sheloved her alias. She lived as a writer - as writers live, you know - on cleanwater, ink and sheets of possibilities. She came down on one of the more sociableoccasions, and was the first one to actually talk to me about what she wasworking on. We didn't talk often but sometimes she explained why writers actedthe way they did - before I learned to make everythingself-explanatory.
"To me, inspiration is a creature, a separateentity," she told me, tucking her bare feet under her, determined to beelaborate. "It is like a demon, almost - it is elusive, nondiscriminatory,and when it bites you randomly, ideas flow from the wound into the world.Sometimes you have this urge and words line up into sentences in your mind ...oh, it can be so incredible." She smiled at me. "It is one of the bestdemons with which to be acquainted."
Before she moved out a few weekslater, I kept an eye on her, hoping we would have a chance to talk again. Ifigured she had been bitten a lot, as she put it, because she stayed in her roomin silence for days. Her "Do Not Disturb" sign swayed on the knob forso long, that the demon must have been gnawing off a limb orsomething.
When her writers got like this, my mother would leave food onthe tables strategically placed by the doors, and check on them when they weresleeping to make sure they were still alive and healthy. In a way, she was paidto take care of the rest of the world so the demons could bite.
Finallyone night I spied Marillus in the gardens with her nightgown on, and boltedoutside to catch up with her. I saw her pained face more closely as I fell instep with her.
"He left! The wound has closed!" She turned tome. She looked so restless, with all these ideas seemingly jumbled in her body,not just her head. "I thought maybe if he was hiding here in the roses,..." She caressed one of the blooms.
I looked up at the moon, knowingthat I really couldn't be of any comfort. It had happened to other writers I hadknown. The way they had bridged the gap failed them, and they always left thesheltered home, thinking they had run themselves dry.
Writers weren't partof the annoyances in my life. They weren't like the boys who tried to look up myskirt on the playground swings, or the girls who ended up with all my crushes inhigh school. The writers never pinched my cheeks or interrogated me about theboring parts of my life. Whether they even noticed me or not, I liked having themthere, knowing things could be intensely worse.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.