Last night, I dreamt I was in the hospital again.
White walls, white sheets, white bed frame, even the nurses’ outfit was white. Everything was white. Call me crazy but I think I could have even smelled the color white. The nurse’s face was covered by layers of masks hiding behind a larger but translucent mask. She had dark, sunken eyes – expressed more vividly by her auburn hair.
Everything else in the room was typical: the consistent beep from the heart monitor latched to my chest, the dull ache from the intravenous line connected to the vein in the crook of my arm.
The problem is I couldn’t hear anything else except for the annoying beeping machine. I couldn’t hear the nurse’s voice either as she appeared to go over with the doctor that just came into the room the vital details from the clipboard she often carried.
Then, out of nowhere came Hermes, the Greek Messenger God, telling me he was my guide to the Underworld to meet Hades.
Visibly confused, my body couldn’t help itself but float upwards and into a portal where Hermes informs me I’m the next savior.
Savior of what? Of who? Where?
Hermes wasn’t having any of it and continued shoving pieces of metal towards me: a chest plate, a pair of boots, a helmet, a shield, and even a sword. There was no use arguing with a God. I wasn’t getting any answers as we approached the River Styx.
Well, as you can imagine how things would go, Hades didn’t like my complaining as much as he disliked Hercules. The guy with a fiery blue hairdo can talk and talk about how much he loathes the demigod.
Then I woke up.
But I have a secret to tell you.
Everything about the Underworld and Hades, Hercules, blah, blah, blah, was all made up junk.
All my life I wanted to be an author. I’ve written many short stories from varying genres, poems seeped in inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe, even a children’s book. Though, I would consider only one of those to be my greatest story: The Traveler.
Writing is a lot like traveling because what you find is only limited by your courage. It is the thrill of discovery along the way that gives writing and life meaning. And as you can imagine from the beginning of this short story to the end, I’m a terrible writer. But I can make being terrible work for me. Does it work for you?
I write short stories mostly for myself and no one else therefore I feel less constricted by the rules and boundaries of the English language. Ernest Hemingway was such a creature of this as well. Hemingway would first write for himself before filling the requests of his publishers. You can interpret that self-imposed narcissism and stubbornness as the need for keeping control of your thoughts, your words, your soul. And traveling, I feel, helped him realize that more about himself. Keep in mind, I’m not in any way deifying him but you can’t help but feel where he stood as he traveled the four corners of the Earth and within his own mind.
That’s where I found myself most days: trying to control every part of my life I could use for writing. My publisher and I, well, our relationship isn’t the greatest, but we work. We understand both the need for results and mental health all the same. But as is with every business, there are limits. And there’s only so long I can push the limits.
It’s the early morning of the next day. I’m sipping on my Americano coffee. Next, I take my, well, alternative medicine – the kind that fills your lungs and the nooks and crannies of your brain. Others call it medical marijuana but is it pushing a limit calling it for what it is? This temporary medicine numbs the areas that remind me of my past as both once a soldier and an athlete.
I stare at the blank page of my leather bound book I received as a gift Christmas last.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap goes my pen on the paper.
Several minutes goes by.
Another fifteen more minutes.
Tap, tap, tap, tap continues my pen.
One would think the caffeine and medicine counteract one another but I never found this to be the case. Why was I feeling this way?
Surely this can’t be writers block I whisper.
Bzzzt, bzzzt, bzzzt my smartphone begins to vibrate.
A lovely conversation with my nearly two-year-old daughter through a video call. It lifted my spirits but alas it was just a distraction.
I stared long enough at the white paper to clearly see the ridges along the surface of the heavy paper, committing it to memory.
Leaning back now in my chair I rub my eyes, pat my face. Now I had something new to look at.
Same result as I continue staring up at the ceiling.
At least it isn’t the old popcorn ceiling in your last house I thought to myself.
Same as before – nothing happened.
Minutes turned into hours, distracted by my day job and taking care of my daughter. There isn’t some hidden meaning or depth I was trying to add to that observation. Sometimes, things are just the way they are – without depth or meaning.
Tomorrow I whispered.
It was always “tomorrow” or “later” since the turn of the new year.