A cup of rooibos tea wafted the sweet aroma of home. He watched the steam dissipate into bright light cast by the window. The cup blurred as he looked beyond it to outside where the grass had become overgrown and weeds were taking over. He looked back at the page before him. Where to start? This was the poignant question plaguing his days, to great detriment of the garden. He would only know where to start once he began, but where to begin when you don’t know where to start?
The girl? The boy? The undying relentlessness of weeds? The morning. The afternoon snack. The third cup of tea. The overflowing ashtray. The evening. The kisses goodnight. The chime at midnight. The next day.
The same page, unfulfilled.
It glowed in the morning light, a menacing and titillating escape from his untamed lawn.
He sipped on his tea with a long drawn out slurp, eyebrows poised considering the page. He put the cup down and smacked his lips in pleasure, “You know, you were once a tree. At least, part of a tree. A very small part, of something much larger than what you are now. Sorry?” he bent his ear towards the page,” Well which part would you like to be? A leaf? No, you can’t be a leaf. You were made from the wood, nothing else.”
He rested his chin on a palm and said, “Yes it would have been nice to be green. I would have liked that for you,” he gave the page a regretful look.
"But don’t worry, plain white is far better for people such as myself. Who, me? I’m a writer. Someone who makes up stories for others to read. In fact, once upon a time, you were the only way people could read my stories.” He looked at the page with amusement, "Yes, really! You should be proud, you are a very important part of writing history.”
He laughed bitterly, “No I am not as important to writing as you are. But I would like to be."
A moment passed between the pair, until the writer put his hands in his lap and quietly revealed, “Sometimes I think you are more valuable to me without words.”
He looked lovingly at the page and smiled, “There is something so beautiful about your emptiness.”
"If I use you, you’ll change. I’ll transform you into something else… Something definite and permanent. What if it isn’t worthy of what you mean to me?”, he slumped back in his chair and the page illuminated on his desk.
“Yeah, you say that now but what happens when I write something so dreadful that you are reduced to a ball of squandered tree?” he threw up his hands in despair, “Will you mind then?!” They landed loudly on either side of the page.
Hunched over, with fists clenched and brow crossed, he studied every corner. “How do I make you more exquisite than you already are?”
He listened to the page and replied, shaking his head in disagreement. “Bravery is for soldiers, not writers. Writers tell the stories of soldiers, as if they were brave enough to fight.”
“Yes, you are a soldier, little page. One of many sent out to sacrifice your life for the pitiless greed of writers everywhere. Why do you do it?” he said, and paused.
“But what if I gave you the choice?”
He looked at the page with overwhelming respect, “You would do that for me?”.
“But then, what can I do for you? How could I repay you for your kindness?”
He nodded stiffly, realising his responsibility. His eyes fixed on yesterday’s only accomplishment.
He picked up his pen, gave the page a reassuring nod and wrote,
'The page wanted to know if even a solitary page, could have a greater purpose, be it a mistake or a masterpiece. It wanted to be realised into something, anything which could keep it from being a blank, unfinished possibility.'
The writer held it up in front of him, the light from the window haloed the edges of the sheet and filled his vision. The page remained silent, its only words were now inscribed onto its body. He folded it up neatly and placed it into his pocket, making his way into the garden and resolving to mow the lawn.
He had to start somewhere.