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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: His Strange Love Affair
By Paula Titus


Michael writes. Long into the night he pounds out words on his typewriter, stringing them together to form sentences, paragraphs, pages, novels.

Words are his passion; he strokes each one patiently as if it were his virgin bride. He holds them captive for days until they surrender.

I’ve seen him refuse to eat because the perfect adjective refused to form in his mind. And I’ve seen him celebrate with champagne after his mind finally gave birth to his children of prose.

In the beginning, I could seduce him away from his mahogany desk. But now only words hold the power of seduction for him. How can I compete with his own mind, his strange love affair?

Words, words, words, I’ve grown tired of them. I long for the days of normality, when spending long hours of jovial play with his family held importance in his life. Evenings when the four of us had meals together, conversation flowed, we shared life.

Now he refuses to leave his typewriter for anything other than necessities. He seems irritated that he must stop writing to eat, shower, sleep. I recall the evening of our tenth anniversary:

“The reservations were made for seven o’clock, are you going to get ready?” Michael sat and stared at his page of words.

“Yes, I just have to finish this chapter.”

“We need to leave in thirty minutes.” I had a sinking feeling as the words left my mouth, but I left him alone and went to greet the babysitter. Twenty minutes later I climbed the stairs to find him still sitting behind the desk. He was bent over, typing with a fierce passion like a piano man giving the performance of his life.

“I suppose you’ll be spending our anniversary with your beloved words – alone.” His face showed no trace of remorse or regret. The only visible emotion was the way he looked at his now fully written page. Love, lust, satisfaction, adoration for them – his words.

“Words can’t hold you, or love you.” I wanted to be strong, but the tears escaped from my eyes when his only response was,

“Yes they can.”

Oh, Michaels’ good at what he does, there’s no denying it. His third novel spent thirty-two weeks on top. He wrote that book in one month – he did nothing else but write for that month. Shortly thereafter I knew he was insane.

It was Christmas Day last year.

I approached Michael’s office early in the morning to find the door locked. I knocked.

“What?” His voice vibrated through the heavy wooden door.

“Let me in Michael.”

He opened the door and returned to his desk. “Are you going to come out of this room today?” I was praying that Michael would remember his love for our Savior, that celebrating the coming of our Lord would spark some long lost passion he once had for Christ, for family, for me.

“Yes, yes, I’m coming – look at this,” he smiled and patted the thick stack of paper beside his typewriter. “I’ve almost finished this book.”

As Michael was speaking Hannah ran into the room, eyes wide with excitement and anticipation. “Daddy, come and look under the tree!” She grabbed Michael’s hand and led him to the living room. I followed.

I watched Michael’s face for some sign of life as Hannah carefully examined the tags on each package. “Look Daddy, this one’s for you.” She handed him the gift covered in gold wrapping paper.

Just when I thought I saw a glimpse of the man I fell in love with, we heard a strange clicking noise coming from Michael’s office. Michael dropped the package and hurried to the office.

By the time I reached the room Michael was holding Jacob by one arm, suspended in midair. “How many times have I told you to never touch my typewriter?” Michael’s screams were drowned out by Jacob’s cries. “Look what you’ve done, you ruined it,” Michael threw Jacob to the floor.

“What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?” I held Jacob, trying to calm his sobs.

“I have to type this whole page over now, keep that brat out of my office.” Michael sat at his desk and ripped the page out of the typewriter.

That was the night I left him. All I could hear when the children and I left the house was the clicking of keys pounding against paper. Long into the night, Michael writes.

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This article has been read 779 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/14/08
This sounds like a piece out of a novel.

I don't see it tying in with the topic, but it is very well-written. And sad indeed.
Edy T Johnson 02/15/08
This is exceptional writing, masterful, in fact. You have captured the essence of obsession in general, and a writer's specific compulsion in particular (I breathed a sigh of relief that it was a typewritten page and salvageable rather than a deleted computer page!).
I do see a subtle tie-in with the WC topic. The wife walking out on her dream after trying and trying to recover what she's lost does it for me.
Candace Zann02/16/08
While the story gave me a feeling of sadness, the writing was compelling. I can see spilled milk in there somewhere!
c clemons02/17/08
Sure hope this is not a true account. I see the tie-in with the topic, albeit small, or it could be big depends on how the reader interprets it. Good writing overall.
Holly Westefeld02/17/08
Very, very sad, but well-written.
I saw the tie in as "crying" over the ruined page by abusing his own son. The page could easily be re-typed, but the relationships may never be healed.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/18/08
Wow! Brillianly written! A master of the typewriter for sure, and a master of wordsmithing with no doubt!!
Interesting, entertaining, and a page turner from the very beginning to the end! Of course, your Comments are coming from writers - so hits us like a ton of bricks! Great spoof! Or was it...who knows? But nevertheless...I loved it! Pure magic! Kudos!
Mary Hackett02/18/08
Oh, what a dreadful thing. You captured his idolatry for words so well without using too much description. That's good writing!
Joanne Sher 02/18/08
This is absolutely frightening and captivating and haunting. Incredibly portrayed, Paula. Wow.
LaNaye Perkins02/18/08
This story made me want to take time off to go do something with family. You did a great job telling this story. It was very sobering for this writer. Well done.
Lyn Churchyard02/18/08
Paula, you have captured in words what I never want to become.

Your ability to bend words to your will is amazing. I loved "I’ve seen him celebrate with champagne after his mind finally gave birth to his children of prose."
His life is not only spilt but spoiled milk. His wife had a choice-stay with the smell or move on.
Jan Ackerson 02/19/08
Your writing is brilliant--yes, you may have skirted the topic a bit, but this is crafted beautifully. I loved it.
Lynda Schultz 02/19/08
Compelling writing. The link with the theme might be obscure, but considering the excellence of the story, not worth worrying about.