My fingers fly across the keyboard, pounding out a rhythm that lulls me into thinking all is right with the world again. Eyes closed and thoughts racing, I type furiously trying to capture the life playing out in my mind. Color, texture, sound, scent. They all rise and swirl in scenes that flow onto the screen. Almost done. Just a few more sentences and another masterpiece will spring to life.
With one final push, the plot twists and plunges into a satisfying conclusion. I pry open my eyes and squint at the faint glow of the oversized monitor, seemingly bright in the dark room. Yes, that will do. I click the ‘save’ button and rub my hand over my jaw. I grimace at the rough stubble.
Did I lose track of days? How many this time? A deep rumble churns my empty stomach and I grimace. When was the last time I ate? With a sigh, I push myself away from the desk and run my thick tongue over dry lips. Where’s my water glass?
I search the broad cluttered desk, then the surrounding carpet. A faint shimmer draws my eye to a silver square. The crystal goblet lies on its side, framed by moonlight that streams in through the French doors. I sigh and pick it up, twisting it between my hands as I contemplate the manicured lawn and garden beyond the sweeping veranda on the other side of the glass.
Where did the time go? How long was I… away… this time? I lift one shoulder and then the other while rolling my head to stretch knotted muscles that have been idle too long. Turning away from the empty scene outside, I shuffle across the room. It seems like miles to the heavy oak office doors. Dragging them open across the thick carpet, the faint sound echoes in the empty hallway. I vaguely recall a time when my house rang with laughter and joy.
But that was a different lifetime. Before my first bestseller. Before this house. Before I’d reached that pinnacle where nothing was beyond my means…
My vision wavers and I scrub my eyes with the backs of my hands. Stupid memories. Not worth thinking about now. I’m just tired. Too much writing again.
I wander through highly polished paneled rooms that smell faintly of lemon. Every once in a while I run my fingers across the silk stitches of an antique chair or smooth a wrinkle from a cool linen coverlet. I stop to contemplate Monet’s water lilies. I’ve always liked art; always wanted a collection of fine paintings and sculptures. Now I had a whole house full of them… a mansion. A museum. A mausoleum.
I keep walking. Why I had my office built so far from the kitchen, I can’t remember. Something to do with distractions, maybe.
“Bah!” My own voice startles me in the empty house. The only answer is another grumble from my empty belly.
I make my way to the false brightness of the kitchen and pull open the stainless steel refrigerator door. There’s a small popping sound and I almost gag at the odor. My empty stomach curls into a knot and bile rises in my throat. Leftover lamb, roasted potatoes… what used to be a salad.
How long ago was that dinner party? The one I threw to celebrate my latest success? Who attended that one? I vaguely recall the mayor, maybe that new starlet.
I’m not hungry now. And who ordered that lamb? I hate lamb.
Slamming the steel door, I blinked at my distorted reflection. Hair awry, eyes sunk into their sockets, dry blotchy skin, a grimy silk smoking jacket… only me. I turn away and glare at the bone china, the top-of-the-line steel appliances, silver goblets arranged next to cut crystal. I pound my fist on the imported Italian marble countertop until my chest hurts and I clutch at it while fumbling in my pocket for the pill that makes the pain go away. There’s no one to help me now. Beth left months ago.
What did she say when she left? Ah, I remember now. “What good is it if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?”* Beth was my soul. Oh, dear God, please let her come back to me. I’d give all this up for the chance to tell her that she’s all the luxury I need.
*Mark 8:36 NIV Paraphrased
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