• Alexandra Petropoulos

Fiction: Story #1

“I’m tired of watching other people create,” she mumbled to herself while her eyes desperately scanned the room for something, though she wasn’t sure what. Day after day she was subject to the creativity of the people around her. Everyone seemed to be making things – great things, average things, and even a few shit things, but things nonetheless. They seemed to be delving into their imagination and magically resurfacing with… something.

“Something? Is that really the best word I can come up with,” she thought, frustrated that she couldn’t even be clever in her damn thoughts. And yet, she knew that somewhere, deep inside, past the thicket of doubt, lay her creativity. Maybe it was just dormant, or hibernating, but she felt like she could feel it slowly coming back to life. Being surrounded by creatives had awoken the beast inside… or rather nudged it: it was still pushing the snooze button.

Her previous forays into artistic creation had fallen flat as far as she was concerned, and she was reminded daily by Facebook, that no, she hadn’t released an album like Rob, directed an indie film like Alex, performed regularly in Boston’s string ensembles like Lynn, created shimmering art of glass like Jean, or written an acclaimed opera like Luke. Every day someone was waving Instagrammed photos of their art in her face, taunting her.

Now she wanted to make something, anything. But what? Her neglected flute, hidden under the bed, whispered about the good old days of music school like a nostalgic bus stop lunatic. On her desk a tin of 12 graphite pencils ranging in hardness from 9B to F wondered if they were ever meant for more than that single sketch they did in 2010. But none of these were what the muse inside was reaching for, searching for. There had to be something else, another outlet for the force she felt warming within her.

And then her eyes landed upon a forgotten notebook poking casually out of her handbag. It was a jet black A5 Moleskin, the kind that litter countless independent cafés in the hopes of convincing onlookers that their owners are creatives. She had been carrying around the extra heft of that notebook for over a year, intending to jot down all of her ideas as they came to her where ever she might be. And yet, here it was, untouched. The corners were frayed from a year of dancing around with other neglected paraphernalia in her bag: an oversized metronome with a dead battery; a packet of the cheap, waxy crayons that restaurants hand out to troublesome children, though the blue one had been missing for years; and a pocket-sized Greek-English dictionary that was once used to translate a menu in Santorini.

She teased the corners of the notebook back into shape, and her OCD was pleased to find a virginal crispness to the pages inside. Not a scratch or mark on the perfectly lined paper. Thumbing each sheet, she enjoyed feeling their evenness. Crisp and simple perfection. She sighed.

That was exactly the problem. There was a well of creativity bubbling deep inside her; it boiled hot enough one day last year to prompt the purchase of this little pad, but froze over again as soon as she made it home. Now the tingling sensation in her gut was back, the one that told her she was so much more than just this, if only she could harness that buried passion.

She rooted around that same bag for the pen she knew was hidden in one of the pockets, patiently awaiting her inspiration. Gone! “It couldn’t just disappear, I never touched it,” she grumbled. But no amount of digging uncovered it. Luckily, she had a drawer in her desk full of pens – blue, black, red, green – ready for any occasion as might suit the moment. Grabbing a black biro, she returned to the notebook where it sat on the floor next to her bag and its upturned contents. Crouching down, she settled in; no need to move this venture to the desk, she was sure she wouldn’t be here long.

A few deep breaths and she set pen to paper. Nothing happened. What was she doing? She didn’t know the first thing about writing. She’d need characters, histories, scenes, settings, dialogue and a narrator. And plot! Her left brain screamed as it lunged for her right, trying to drown it in technique and order.

“Free association,” she reassured herself. “Let’s try that. Just write, and ask no questions. See what happens.” And so she did. Before she knew it, she had her first sentence:

“I’m tired of watching other people create…”