Theo tries to write about horses. He writes a simple narrative about a stallion and a filly mating and rearing a colt and the colt breaking its leg and having to be shot and how afterwards the filly dies of heartbreak.
He reads the words when he’s done and it’s clear that the story is not his own, not even his to tell, and that all of his attempts to create rising action are forced. He deletes everything.
He stares at the blank Microsoft Word document.
“Just do it,” he says out loud.
Theo thinks about how writing is an exercise in patience and waiting for the right moment to strike. He thinks of a python slithering through Nepal, looking for prey.
He writes about how when he was fourteen years old, he caught a snapping turtle with his best friend Sebastian and how Sebastian broke his ankle by rolling it on a wet rock. He tries to articulate the sense of fear and panic, but he feels too disconnected from the memory.
He focuses on the facts instead. How he helped Sebastian limp home even though Sebastian had always been the strong one. How Sebastian’s mother’s face paled and her brow furrowed when she opened the door and how she looked at Theo with eyes so full of distrust that he knew, somehow, that it was his fault. How he didn’t see Sebastian for two weeks afterwards and how when he did, it was only at school.
He remembers how Sebastian’s eyes were sullen and how when they would talk it didn’t feel the same as before. He remembers how his cast was blue and how there was never any writing on it. How, come spring time, Sebastian did not make the track team as he had every year before. How he stopped laughing at Theo’s stupid jokes and only nodded and smirked ironically. Like what he’d said was so obviously unfunny that it was funny… but not in a good way. And how Sebastian got drunk for the first time and started hanging with a different group of friends.
How this hurt him but he’d pretended, until now, that it hadn’t.
He stares at the paper. Takes in the words.
Decides it’s not much of a story.
As his right hand punches the last period into the keyboard, his left grabs his cell phone from his pocket and dials the last phone number he’d ever bothered to memorize.
An ascending tri-tone.
We’re sorry, but the number you are trying to dial can-
He rifles through his desk drawer. After some time he finds what he’s looking for: a picture of him and Sebastian dressed in odd costumes, making faces at the camera. The photographer unknown, forgotten.
His eyes focus in on Sebastian’s buck-toothed grin and wild, rolling eyes. “Sorry I tried to be there for you, you dumb some of a bitch.”
The picture was last seen on the floor under the desk.
Michael Hetzler is a writer who currently resides in Los Angeles, California. In 2013, he graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Linguistics. He writes for no one and everyone, and usually does so at a snail’s pace.