Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Cord

The typewriter clicked under his quick-moving fingers. Chik-chik-chik…the pace hardly ever stopped. Light would be streaming in from the window and typed pages would form a stack next to the typewriter. He would lose the sun and then be accompanied by a few of the strongest stars, and the manuscript grew taller and taller. He was unaffected by the hours of man, by the hands of the clock or the tilt of the earth. The sounds of the neighborhood did not disturb him, nor the snoring of his neighbor, Levi, that he could hear through the wall.
He would only break the rhythm of the writing when his body required tending, or when Mrs. Johnson from upstairs would come over to prepare him some lunch. She told him she could not stand to know a man was not eating and wasting away, so she made it her business to prepare him simple meals three times a day. Besides those necessary interruptions and an occasional walk to the living room window, his place was at the desk, before the typewriter and the clean white pages that he would fill with other worlds.
He preferred living in those other places, the realities he created. They were so much more interesting than the city that was just outside his 16th floor window. In his mind, there were no rules, no conventions, no limits as to what could happen. It was total freedom, and he dove into it everyday, as if finally, he was home.
The typewriter clicked.
“…Cintra held onto the helm. She could see the star system fast approaching. It was a cluster of white lights that sparkled brighter than anything she had ever seen. Moving in and out of the clusters were other space craft, smaller than the one she now maneuvered, smaller and more round, like shooting spheres that had the light-willed movement of bubbles. She was not quite sure which direction to turn. Would the smaller ship carrying her crew and supplies follow her into the cluster of light? Perhaps she should circumvent the stars and arc over them…She heard the phone next to her ring. She picked up the receiver, pulling the cord as far as it would go so she could walk towards the wide glass that was the front windshield of the spacecraft. Before waiting for a voice, she said, ‘Let’s go for it Kurt. Let’s see what lives out here.’ ‘OK Captain.’ She walked towards her seat and hung up the phone, resting it gently in its plastic cradle. She got into the chair and gripped the steering device.”
He pushed hard on the key for “period.” He did it more sharply, more exaggerated than the rest of the paragraph. This was getting good. He nodded to himself, enjoying where the story was taking him. He nodded softly, over and over, a small trance coming over him.
It was how he rested. Images of space craft took the place of words. He saw the dark sky of space, imagined what it would be like to approach a thick cluster of stars that seemed to vibrate a thousand times greater than the most populated city. He let himself feel the tension of the space travelers, the anticipation, the curiosity building as they quickly approached the lights.
His body jerked slightly as he heard the rattle of a key in the door. Without even looking up, he could see the round shape of Mrs. Johnson emerging through the doorway, her thick arm pulling the key from the metal hole. Her pudgy pink hand closed the door, locking the deadbolt, she took just a few steps to the small kitchen left of the door, then reached for the apron she left on a single metal hook. He could hear her humming.
He pulled the paper out of the typewriter, tugging gently on it from both corners so as not to bend it. He re-read the paragraph and found it pleasing, though he thought there would be more details he could add later. He liked the world. He read it again, still missing the one thing that would act like a siren to a reader far in the future.
The cord, the phone. In a world of easy space travel, he had inserted an object bound by the world around him. An object he knew, a thing he recognized. His publisher would glaze over it too, both unable to recognize an object from his unconscious daily assumptions.
He walked over to the window, looking out at the constant traffic of a New York street, where cars remained long and bound by the laws of physics. Technology moved so fast, soon engineers would realize that small, round, bubble cars made more sense. He heard the telephone ring and walked to the small wooden end table. He picked up the receiver, trying to untangle the gray cord as he brought the plastic piece to his ear.

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