It is said that there is magic in the moonlight. Madness.
Insanity. A pale orb, she hovers, smothered in the velvet cloth of night. Her
sighs blow the tides out. Cold; still; stars in the sky. And below them the car
twists down winding roads, each cough of the engine spilling smoke like a
cigarette. A car, a road, a river. The window rolls down, allowing sweet, fresh
air inside. Smoky air. The calm before the storm.
And there is a storm brewing.
Go and grab the shopping, hurry back! A microwave meal awaits you! But now the moon tilts forwards. Eager. She senses him within her grasp, like the spider sits and waits for the fly.
Will you step into my parlour? said the spider to the fly.
The driver rolls his window down a little further. The woods reach up on either side. Branches stretch out with fingers thin as snapping bones. A dirt track separates them from their prize. As though he is aware of their hostility, the man behind the wheel shudders. Concentrate. He must concentrate.
His gaze falls on the pen in the compartment next to the gear stick.
Will you write out the shopping list for me?
Yes. You and your silly obsessions.
All the better to keep me sane, my dear, he thinks.
Well, his wife says, handing him the list. Hurry back at least.
She kisses him, eyes resting on the cabinet of awards at the back of their new gym. Out of place perhaps, but she could never bring herself to throw them away. She turns away from the line of abandoned best-sellers. His name on the spines is barely visible under a thick coating of dust.
Take care. A wave. A promise not to be back too late. But it is already dark when he leaves the store and he can smell the storm on the stagnant air.
And that small voice in his head whispers: This is writing weather.
The woods swallow the car. He doesn’t even notice for a moment. Everything has come down to a battle of wills between him and his pen. He feels his knuckles tighten on the steering wheel and thinks: I can do this. But his eyes, his traitorous eyes, are already glancing down. And he suspects he is losing this battle.
Magic. Madness. Insanity. Does it all boil down to this in the end, when the human instinct is eradicated and those animal urges take control? His knuckles are turning white, and his mind is racing with ideas. Wicked; wild; his mind has become a hurricane of temptation that he must resist at all costs.
The writing will be your undoing. Addiction. Go and grab the shopping, hurry back! The good husband does as he is bid. Poor, lonely man, lost in the woods. Swallowed up by this urge that has left him afraid to so much as look at a pen. He knows the pattern of the addiction, knows the weight of the pen in his hand, the structure of his thoughts when he lets them loose like birds. They are dark birds, more ravens than bluejays. And it all comes back down to the idea that they represented his addiction. Addiction. Negative. As dangerous to succumb to as alcohol or drugs.
He knows that danger does not have to be rational to exist. It lurks in every word. Every sentence holds power and has a grip on his soul. Each best-seller crumbling away on his bookshelf at home is a separate deal made with the Devil. He’s signed his soul away and he is smart enough to know that one day he must pay. He can only pray that the cost of this baring of his thoughts and ideas is not too hard to pay.
The trees creep closer to the edge of the road now, grabbing gnarled branches clawing at the windows of the car. He twists the wheel; hits accelerate; tries not to look back as a rumble of thunder booms overhead. Lightning follows a split second later and he feels a delicious shiver run down his spine. He hits the breaks as a rabbit jumps from the shadows. The pen clatters against the plastic, almost falling to the floor, and he finds himself reaching out as though in a dream. Reaching out before he can stop himself.
Cold metal. Cold clinking heart pumping ink around. He tightens his hold, unaware that his knuckles have popped in their sockets. In the distance a raven calls. Premonition. Ill omens. His thoughts are flickering too fast now, like a candle sputtering out. They flit around his head as idea after idea churns through the cogs of his brain. He wonders distantly if he is tripping, but he can’t remember taking anything and suspects he hasn’t done so since his college days. Blood rushes through his veins like shards of ice. He releases the wheel but not the accelerator.
The car careens off the road, off the path of safety. It leaps into the woods with an eager growl of the engine. The driver looks up, eyes glazed over. An addict. He can barely bring himself out of his trance long enough to scream. The noise climbs up in his throat and is released as nothing more than a timid gasp of breath. And all the while his mind conjures up names; appearances; plots. Too late, all too late he realizes how futilely he has fought for two whole years. And to imagine; he could have spent them writing, letting the pen touch the paper and connect his thoughts to the pattern of its dance.
This feeling, he thinks, it is bliss.
He crashes. The car collides with an oak tree and he is killed before he can break his trance. Dead fingers clutch the pen as the headlights blink out of existence.
Somewhere, a woman waits for a husband who will never return. The woods have swallowed him up.