Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: Why We Do This
By Steve Uppendahl
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“I don’t get it. I really don’t, Kevin,” she shakes her head, but keeps direct eye contact.
Puzzled, “What don’t you get?”
Now she hangs her head and sobs quietly. She composes herself quickly, but refuses to wipe her tears, letting them stream down her reddened cheeks.
“You. I don’t understand you.”
Moments pass in silence. I’m still puzzled and beginning to get irritated.
“What don’t you understand. Is this a Venus and Mars thing, or do you have something specific in mind?”
Sara narrows her eyes, “Don’t, Kevin. Don’t put me in the same category as your previous girlfriends. We both now I’m nothing like them. This is hard for me, and I’m doing the best I can. The least you can do is listen. Then be honest with me, or this is where things have to end.”
She’s right, of course. She is different. We’ve been together fourteen months, far and away longer than anyone else. Sara is kind, smart, and has always been supportive. She has more patience than I thought possible, which explains the length of our relationship.
I nod my head and try to focus.
“I’m sorry. Is this about my writing, how I’m ‘obsessed’?”
She exhales loudly, “I don’t understand why it controls you. You have two jobs and a studio apartment. Why do you spend so much time and energy on something that doesn’t even pay?”
I’ve heard this before from many others, namely my parents and former girlfriends. But, this time there’s much more at stake. Something inside is telling me that if I can’t explain it to Sara, there might not be anyone left to explain it to.
Placing a closed hand over my mouth I stare over her left shoulder. I notice the Broken Spine bookstore across the street. I stare at the red brick and faded sign.
I find Sara’s eyes again, take a deep breath and begin, “Tolkien is your favorite author, right?”
She nods, puzzled, but remains quiet.
“I like him too. I like how he allows hobbits to live underground and fly above it. Must be quite the life.”
“What? Hobbits can’t fly.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve read those books over and over. Hobbits don’t fly.”
“According to Tolkien.”
Waving her right hand in the air, “Of course according to Tolkien. He made them up. He wrote four books about them. Never does he mention them flying.”
“Well, maybe I’ll write a book where they do fly. How ‘bout that?”
Shaking her head, eyes widening in disbelief, “You can’t do that!”
Laughing, “Sure I can. Why not?”
The words fly out in protest, “It was his idea. Tolkien wrote those amazing books that have touched so many. You can’t just change things because you want to.”
Smiling, “That’s right, I can’t. I know you love those books. But have you ever thought about Tolkien himself? What it must have been like for him?”
“What do you mean?”
“Think how vividly he portrays Middle Earth and Bilbo and Frodo and all the others. He even came up with their own language, drew maps-“ I stop and shake my head.
“Think how obsessed he must’ve been with this different world, these characters that he just had to let out. Imagine what it would’ve done to him if he had held it all in.”
Sara’s eyes widen, in realization or fear of me I’m not sure.
“I’m not saying I’m anywhere near Tolkien’s league, or anyone’s league, for that matter. But I have ideas too, small ones perhaps, but ideas nonetheless. Ideas that I can’t hold back.
“As for the money part, it’s every writer’s dream to be published and actually be paid to write. Maybe someday it’ll happen, maybe it won’t.”
Sara reaches for my hand, “Kevin I-“
“I’m not done. I understand I spend a lot of time writing and when I’m not writing I’m thinking about writing. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not also thinking about you. Understand?”
Sara half sobs, half laughs. Her eyes are wet again, though this time for a different reason.
She takes my hand as we rise, “Yeah, I understand. Let’s go.”
As we walk away holding hands, “Just don’t write about us, alright?”
Laughing, “Who’d want to read that?”
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