The Author's Masterpiece

February 15, 2012
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The author sat at his desk; in front of him he saw his typewriter and a glass of milk. The typewriter was for the obvious purpose of writing the story, and while typewriters have been long outdated he would choose them any day over anything else to write with. They were more sincere and more authentic than a computer could ever be; thus, every time he heard the chime of the ancient device reached the end of a line the author felt as if he had accomplished a major goal of pouring his inner thoughts onto the page. Thoughts that would be expressed to the world if the story could just catch on. The glass of milk was for the obvious purpose, as well, to quench the author’s thirst. The author liked to pretend that it had different purposes though. That the milk had a magical power and with each sip of the cold refreshing milk he would have a new, brilliant idea. That it was made from pure snow and could only be found in heaven therefore making it the coldest glass of this sacred liquid on the planet. While those ideas amused the author if happened to stumble upon writers’ block, he knew that the milk was there for the sole purpose to keep him hydrated. Authors can not work under dehydrated conditions he had thought. The author wasn’t crazy, just quirky as most authors were; he liked to use his imagination for the most random things he could find, like a glass of milk, he felt like it helped him keep his creative edge. But now more than ever he knew he needed that milk so he could concentrate. Now more than ever he needed his mind on his current piece.

He was writing a masterpiece. While he had not been extraordinarily successful in the past he had high hopes for this piece. He had locked himself in his study for days and vowed not to leave until the last word appeared on the page. At the commencement of his writing it had been easy, he had so many ideas to put into this single story he could type fast enough to keep up with his thoughts. Now as he was on the twelfth day he had grown tired, weary, and ornery. He was bored of the same meals he had asked his maids to bring in to him each day and his fingers ached from the continuous typing. He had barely slept in the twelve day duration because he was afraid if he were to fall asleep he would forget an important thought or have an incredible dream and want to write a new story. The only thing that kept him going was the environment of his study. It had been nicknamed “the paper room” by his friends and family due to the vast amount of literature it contained. It was a gigantic room with every piece he had ever read or written plus hundreds more. He felt safe in his study, scattered papers everywhere in his vicinity with the twisted lamp he had picked out from a local antique shop. The thing he loved most about the room had to be that its enormity was in its height. The width of the room was actually quite small and the octagonal shape did not help to give an illusion that it was larger. The height, though, was immaculate. A series of staircases and ladders was needed to reach all the literature which was perfectly organized by the author who was not insane but let his OCD get the best of him one month. That month he had spent every day in the study organizing every book he had. The author loved the feeling of being surrounded by such great names some still living and others deceased.

The shook his head and got back to work. He had no idea if it was day or night since the study contained no windows. He wanted more than ever to be able to see the moon. He had let his mind wander and needed to re-read prior paragraphs to remember what he was going to write. He wanted this story to encompass the word perfection which meant he needed to get every idea written down before he forgot it. He needed every detail to be precise but he couldn’t rush to the end since that would ruin it altogether. He had typed almost 200 pages by now and figured he would finish in a few days and get to see the moon. He needed this piece; he loved it as a mother loved her child simply because she had produced it.

And then, an abrupt noise from the adjacent room interrupted the author startling him from his day dream. It sounded like a window shattering and as if someone had entered the house. He heard a maid scream and the shrill of her voice put a fear into his stomach that he was unfamiliar with. He stood up but had no idea what to do. Helplessly he stood in the middle of the room as the smoke detector began to beep. Alarmed by the beeping from the machine the author began to make his way towards the looked door forgetting to grab his masterpiece. He turned to get it and smoke started to sneak into the room. The smoke was followed by flames. They were mischievous. Masked men sweeping through the room stealing every piece of literature they could touch. The author watched, paralyzed as he saw them climb the bookcases. Ashes fell to the ground as these evil thieves took their loot. The author looked at the conflagration miserably, mouth a gape. He began to cough heavily as he inhaled the smoke. He clenched his masterpiece so tight he felt it wrinkle in his hands but he didn’t care, as long as it was safe, even if his knuckles turned white. He knew he should run out of the room to escape the fire but his feet were plastered to the floor. No not to the floor, to the room. He adored the room and it killed him to see it go down in flames. His brain told him to run but his heart reminded him that he was a captain and he must go down with his ship. He fainted where he was standing.

He finished typing his work. He read it over enthusiastically and felt a smile come over his face. The novel was published with minimal editorial notes. It reached the New York Times best seller list. He was invited to appear on the Tonight Show, Oprah and other talk shows he had never even heard of. When he appeared on the shows he only received praise and gained more fans making his novel even more popular. The masterpiece was everything he wished it to be, it sky rocketed him to instant fame, his name was carved into history as an intellectual great.

The author awoke in a paper night gown a few hours later. There was a throbbing pain on the left side of his head and when to feel it he couldn’t. It was covered by a bandage. He became scared and started to get up frantically until he realized he was in a hospital bed. He didn’t know what was happening. Where was his glass of milk? His typewriter? He screamed a long yawp and a nurse quickly rushed in.

“What happened to me?” He cried frantically. And with the beeping of her pager his memory came right back.
Before she could answer he blurted out, “What happened to my house? Is it still intact? The masked when, or was it a fire, what happened?!” Then he remembered his masterpiece.
He asked her one final question, the only one he cared to know the answer. His insurance would surely cover any damage to the house or himself but it would not be able to replace this. He spoke slowly and carefully, “What about all the literature, did it make it?”
“You house had a fire, sir,” the nurse began. “You fainted after inhaling too much smoke and hit your head. You have stitches and a concussion. You ~”
“What about the literature?” He interrupted.
The nurse looked at him puzzled. This man had just been in a destructive fire, he is in the hospital, lucky to be alive, yet all he cares about are some damn books. “Sir, all of your books were destroyed, nothing in your library or whatever room you were in did not burn in the fire,” she answered rather irked by the question. She turned quickly and evacuated the room.
The author returned home a day later and found that his whole house was still intact except for his study. It was burnt to the ground. Ashes lay everywhere, he had asked the maids to not clean them up just yet. He walked over to the center of the room where his desk used to stand. Now there was nothing, the desk was a burnt crisp taken by the firefighters.
The author had an object in his hand. A typewriter. He sat down and set the typewriter on his lap. It had a fresh piece of paper that looked white as pearl among the heap of black rubble. The author typed his name at the top of the page. He looked around at the ashes and debris that had been all of his literature. He still was sitting in the midst of great names. He thought about his masterpiece. He thought of how the flames must have consumed it after he dropped it while fainting. He though about it and couldn’t be more content. He had a new page. A new start for a new masterpiece. His tabula rasa. He could do anything he wanted to. Yes, his masterpiece was gone but he had no doubt a new one would come soon. He didn’t even try to recall the ideas he had written down in the old one. He typed his name, heard the chime he’d come to love, pulled out the paper, skimmed it over, and smiled.

This was going to be a wonderful masterpiece.

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