By Marko Cavka (2001.)
*** Another old and un-edited piece, but for some reason very dear to me.***
An old man set in front of his typewriter, nervously inserting a blank piece of paper into its mechanism. He pressed a few keys, but weakly and distressed. Each small lead plate with its engraved letter would just look at the paper surface, screaming silently and then return back into its decks, into the false safety and protection of dozens of other plates, just as scared in expectance of the author’s next move. So many things can happen over the next few seconds. So many silent screams of lead floated in the mist surrounding the still empty piece of paper. Even the air was quietly slipping away from the table, aware of the tension; leaving the expressionless face of the writer with no air and no freshness; forcing him to take deep, heavy breaths. Thick and salty sweat was licking his cheeks and was pouring into his beard. Still, his eyes were bright; their sharp look sliced the distance between them and that snow-white surface, cursed with heartlessness. Inside the mind of the man thoughts simmered, like boiling water, threatening to pour out; moreover, they did, spreading all around his body. He became painfully aware of them… and their pressure. Each one of those thoughts wanted to be the first one. Each one of them wanted to be the one to forge the New World on this blank piece of paper. Hundreds of different thoughts, with the same goal. Some begged, pleading for forgiveness of previous sins. Other just attacked, not caring for the tears and sweat on the author’s face… swiftly, painfully and with no mercy. There were those, which just waited, glowing in the dark of the room, reminding the world of their existence. Some crawled in his fingers, bending them and screaming to his face to press that first key… to release them and let them soak the virgin white paper with blood of their ink.
Ideas were swimming in the air, using the stream of the author’s nervous breath, and making him sigh and increasing the pressure even further. Wishes somehow stick to his worn out shirt and greasy gray hair. Dreams were mixing with the whirlpool of air, thoughts, ideas and helplessness.
How to pick the right one? How to roll the right rock, release the perfect torrent?
God, how important it is to make the right choice, and yet, so hard to see the Truth. He sighed under this unbearable burden of responsibility. The pain. Birthing of a new world. The birth and death of thousands of innocent souls. Oceans, clouds, Sun. The Moon. Mountains and cold snow-winds. Palms and the sand. Life and joy. Death and Hell. Men, dwarfs and fairies. Existence and time-passing decay. So many choices, so much responsibility lying in the first word alone. First letter alone.
Silent and deceptive, the thought of giving up crawled in the air round him. To leave the paper blank? To avoid the responsibility and take shelter in the make-believe safety deep inside his own mind? Not to take the chance for this small fragile mind to outgrow this fear? Not to let it experience that sweet taste of creativity?
No, that cannot be the way out. There’s no way out anyway… only this moment now exists. Now is the right time, and no other. Now the truth will rise.
His fingers flew towards the typewriter. Some of them almost made it to their own first key, but only one actually did. Small lead plate, carrying the first letter of this new world, stroked the blue ribbon hard, transferring the proof of it’s own existence in time onto a confused paper surface.
It’s done then? Will I never experience that void and peace again? it wondered, before the very next letter arrived… and then it realized that there was no peace for it anyway. And life within the mist of endless deceptions and mistakes cannot be true.
More letters came. And with every new touch of lead his meaning echoed stronger and stronger within the dark room. Letters were screaming, and so was the paper. But he screamed out of joy. He accepted every new word, just as the author accepted the path received from that very same group of letters. His fingers kept hitting the keys of an old typewriter that created so many worlds. Some were bright and happy. Some were black and evil; dark and rotted. But all of them had light that was bound to come out. And the machine knew that. Although echoing painfully in its cogwheels, every short voyage of small lead plates brought a small dose of truth. And he felt the Purpose and absorbed the Meaning.
In silence disturbed only by screams of letter plates, words glided out of the authors’ wrinkles; flew with his every breath, crawling out of his aching fingers. The air was playing with grains of dust that danced on particles of light, full of scents and smell. Morning stretched its arms toward a brand new day in a world no more real that the one that was just being created inside the room. Blank papers changed places with the ones that played out their part, and thoughts that transferred their brief existence on the paper vanished, making room for others, just as anxious and eager to do the same. A new world was coming to life underneath the authors’ fingers.
Words were painting, mixing their own colors, creating their own moods. Sentences stringed up into mountains, rivers and valleys, commas divided forests with springs and joined them in some other paragraph.
Chapters, like great, undiscovered continents, divided people and their stories, forcing them to join the adventures and travel to the uncertainty of the next chapter.
Sweaty faced writer and the wet shirt he was wearing looked as if they just want more and more, regardless of time and exhaustion. His hands were like a ten-headed monster; stabbing and biting, tearing of the invincible layers of key they touched. And each key, each letter was just an extension of his imagination; the machine that helped him subdue the waves and swarms of thoughts, making them take their place and line up in this creation whose end was just as unknown to writer as it was to them.
As time passed by, story started to flow all by itself, equalizing the author with the machine he was using. It happened in no particular way or moment. Simply, several different present times were melted together, lost in chaos converted to order. Words recognized a meaning of their own and found some hidden passage to it. They used their un-attachment to any laws known and simply rolled and took over the control.
The writer just wrote, unaware of invisible layer of change in the patterns of fabric he weaved, until it was too late. He spotted something odd, stopped writing and deleted it. He tried again, just to realize that he was writing the same lines over again.
Hmm, he thought, so be it, it was meant to be that way, I presume. He started typing again. Words won the battle, but he didn’t care. Lulled in his own delusion of control he wrote, unable to see the fatal error until the story completely changed itself.
He stopped for a minute or two; sweat pouring down his face into rough fabric of his shirt.
Night conquered the room again. The large candle bent under pressure, still burning and fighting.
The man was unable to see his own frowned face, but he could feel the anxiety glowing out of his skin. Hand moved and fingers wrote a few words. He read them aloud and felt relief. Those were his words. He sighed and continued to write again. Words in his head started to scream, leading him and taking the control once more.
He looked at the paper, staring at the words on it, barely recognizing those few words he actually wrote. They were crossed out and the story had flown around them, ignoring them. He screamed aloud, lifting his fingers from the keyboard.
“It is impossible”, he said to himself. “It is not right. It cannot be!” He felt as bitter as never before in his life. He felt rage lifting from the deep. But he also felt defeated and disappointed. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, calling out his anger again. And it came.
The man started to shout; hitting the keys with his rage, making them scream too. He shouted the words, typing them faster and faster; realizing with every new word that the machine was typing completely different sentences. He looked, still typing, at his fingers. They don’t obey his words, nor do they punch the right keys. He realized at that moment that this war was long lost, but he just couldn’t have stopped. Words of the new world stopped whispering. Words of the new world stopped hiding. It was built, independent and free from the laws and rules; unaware of limitations and control. The story wrote itself and the old man felt his own mind diminishing; crawling into dark and unknown tissue of the sentences he was typing.
He somehow felt his own soul being typed in those dark letters. The words were pushing him, dragging his shirt and grabbing his hair. He felt the story lines pulling him into their world. He felt his link with this God’s world slowly vaporizing. He raised his hands, he was sure he raised his hands. But the typewriter kept adding letters; creating new words and sentences that were calling him in. God, he wanted to scream, just to ease his pain, but his voice was long gone. He had no words, no syllables, no letters he needed to express his fear and hurt. His scream was written in the noise created by the machine. It was drawn into the tissue of the story and his pain shivered across the page, filling up with words. Inside the story, he screamed. In this world he said nothing.
The words glorified, feeling him surrender. Their celebration was poured into the sentences and wrinkles of the new world they created. The words choose themselves. They were writing. Man is just a doll and his weak resistance was diminished with every new sentence. He read the lines, but was helpless to change anything. His tears dried on the paper; his pain drawn with stained ink. He became just a part of the story he himself began to write. Soon, he existed only on paper in front of him. A few more seconds and that will disappear too.
Suddenly, the machine stopped writing and the old wooden walls soaked in the screaming of letters. The last lead plate never touched the ribbon, nor the paper. It stopped somewhere in the middle of the way it was to cross; alone and lost, just as the dot it carried.