As God Is My Author

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13


At breakfast the next morning Sam confessed some unexpected news.

‘I got in touch with that cleaning agency. They said Mason left his job last week. They have no idea where he is.’

Dorsett, still feeling the depressing calm they’d both endured throughout the remainder of the previous night, was eager to animate conversation.

‘That doesn’t surprise me. But thank you for trying to find out.’

They drank their coffee in silence opposite each other at the table and Sam cleared her throat before she spoke.

‘Dor. I said I wanted to try and help you and I still do. You were right what you said last night. I should have been more honest. But I was afraid you’d have refused to speak with Carol. She’s a qualified psychologist and lectures at the college and I thought that it might help solve what exactly is going on.’

‘I appreciate what you tried to do.’ said Dorsett. ‘But I’m telling you, Sam. I didn’t write those lines.’

She looked at him for a moment.

‘Dor: That isn’t what bothers me. I’m more worried about you self-harming again. I’d better tell you because I told my father and he wants to speak with you today.’

Dorsett had almost forgotten about the scissors, an incident he’d considered unimportant. It had never crossed his mind that it would be called self-harming.

‘Sam, I told you. I did that to try and disprove what Mason said. That he created you and me. Don’t you think that’s crazy? I mean, what kind of idiot says stuff like that?’

It was the way she looked at him and he knew she could have said it but didn’t. What kind of idiot would cut himself with scissors to disprove it? She was tactful enough to sidestep it.

‘You know what fathers are like. They always worry.’

‘You mean he’s worried I might hurt you.’

‘He wanted you out of the flat, Dor. I promised him I would get help and he took a lot of persuading, but in the end, he agreed. That’s why I invited Carol. That’s why I’d like to bring her here again. You said last night you wished I’d been more honest with you, so I am.’

She reached across the table and held his hand and his first thought was to pull back. But he conceded and left it there, unresponsive. He tried to sound imposing.

‘Ok, Sam. Invite Carol again if you want. And tell your father the meeting won’t be necessary. I won’t be going in today. It’ll give me more time to finish the poem.’

He left the table and brought the folder over from the same place he’d left it last time he’d written in it. There was another two stanzas, work he was certain he didn’t write. He looked across at Sam and noticed that she was looking at him.

‘Well?’ she asked.

‘Another two stanzas.’ he told her.

‘Yours?’

He handed the paper to her and she looked at the black lines scribbled at an upward angle compared to the previous ones. He couldn’t remember writing any of it.

‘So what do you think?’ he asked.

‘Well the ink’s the same colour,’ she said, ‘but the handwriting doesn’t look like yours, I admit that.’

‘Answer the question, Sam. Go on. Don’t worry, I won’t be angry. What do you think: is it my work?’

She looked up at him, imploring.

‘I’ve read your work before Dor and it doesn’t look out of place.’ she said, ‘What I mean is, if someone else had added something, I think it would be more noticeable. Not so much in prose perhaps, but in poetry, it would be harder to disguise.’

Dorsett left the table to rinse his cup, speaking to her from behind his shoulder.

‘Then I wrote it.’ he said. ‘It’s my work. It doesn’t matter about the quality of the verse anymore. I have become someone who writes subconsciously. My work is created with no perceptive effort; I feel no tiredness after its completion. Writing has become the easiest job in the world. My muse, whoever she is, does it all without payment or obligation.’

Sam kept her silence uncomfortably.

‘The worst part about this,’ he continued, ‘is my disinterest to rewrite it. How can I improve something I have no recollection of having written?’

‘I’ll do it.’ said Sam.

Dorsett turned to her and took interest. He sat down again.

‘That might not be a bad idea.’ he told her. ‘And if you feel the need to delete the whole piece, then do that too. It might solve a lot of problems.’

‘I will.’ she said. ‘Don’t worry.’

When Carol came home with Sam a few days later, no meal was prepared, Dorsett preferring the meeting to be one between psychologist and patient. He shook hands with her but said nothing as he led her in. Sam made an excuse to go into her room to catch up on college work while Carol sat at the desk opposite Dorsett.

‘By the way: thank you for the meal you made last time I was here. You’re quite a cook.’

‘You’re welcome.’

Carol was still searching for the appropriate files on her laptop in front of her and sensed his awkwardness.

‘I imagine you must have a lot of practice, what with Sam working late a lot.’

‘Yes.’

More arranging sheets of paper in order and then she switched to the task.

‘OK Dorsett. This first part is called a psychological evaluation. It’s simply an assessment of -’

‘Can I ask you something before we start, Carol?’

‘Of course.’

‘I’d like to know exactly what it is that’s being questioned here. Mason’s claims, or my word that he even said them. Because if you don’t believe me, then we might as well stop this meeting now. I’m only agreeing to this if you believe he’s said these things.’

Carol seemed cautious to commit.

‘Well, I know you believe that he said them.’

‘No. That’s not good enough. I need to be sure you believe that he said them. Whether or not you consider him mad is something else. If you think I need help because I believe them, fine. Or if you think my interpretation of what he said is simply mistaken, then that’s fine, too. But if you don’t believe that he said any of this stuff, then this all ends now. I presume you do believe that he exists, right?’

‘Yes. Sam mentioned to me that he was a domestic helper.’

‘Good. That’s a start.’

‘She also said she can find no trace of him now. The agency said he disappeared.’

‘Is that my fault?’

‘No. What I’m saying is that his absence doesn’t help. We have no way of knowing what made him say these things.’

‘He told me he was my creator. Not a creator, or the creator, but my creator. Do you think I’m crazy to believe that?’

‘You also told Sam that he created her as well. Is that right?’

‘That’s what he told me.’

‘I guess that would also include me.’

‘I imagine so, yes.’

‘So I presume he’s telling you that he’s a God.’

‘He never mentioned the word.’

‘But isn’t that what God’s do? Create environments and living things?’

Dorsett paused to recall the same words he’d said to Garbutt.

‘Look, Carol, what I’m getting at is that if you’d heard that and you didn’t believe it, which would be a natural reaction, don’t you think you’d be tempted to try and prove that what you’d heard was false? When I stuck those scissors in my hand, I thought he’d stop me. But he didn’t. He said I’d be the sort of person who would do that. Remember when we first met and I told you I was writing a book? In the story, I enter the book and dictate the lives of the characters. Well, Mason claims to write my story. This story.’

‘So you’re saying that this person claims to be a writer and not a God.’

‘Yes. But God as we know him, had a son who performed miracles. Mason said only credible things happen in his stories, not incredible things. Otherwise, the story that’s told will not be realistic. More or less the same thing I said to my character.’

‘This other story; you haven’t finished it?’

‘No. Mason said that the characters will remain like that until I get back to the story and continue where I left off. But if I abandon it completely, then their lives, and the story they exist in, would carry on without my knowledge of it.’

Carol wrote in her notebook as she spoke.

‘So the story doesn’t continue unless you decide to return to it, yet if you abandon the characters completely, then they live on. Even though you’d have no knowledge of it.’

Dorsett wasn’t sure if she was asking a question but replied anyway.

‘Yes.’

‘And what did you say the book was about?’

‘The Nonsense Question.’

Her puzzled expression urged him to explain.

‘It’s a term used in theoretical physics to anyone who asks where the Universe is expanding. As the universe is widely acknowledged by scientists to be all there ever was, is and will be, it cannot expand into anything. Even though it’s been proven that it is expanding.’

‘That does sound nonsense.’

‘It wouldn’t look out of place in the Wonderland of Alice. But I created a character so that he could try and answer the question, even though he has no knowledge of physics. He loses himself in meandering thoughts fuelled by booze. I’m working on the idea that unusual solutions will come from unusual sources. Physicists take a lot of guesses, so why shouldn’t drunkards?’

‘Have you any knowledge of physics?’

‘No, just a curiosity. I know enough of it to know about the nonsense question and it’s been annoying me for years. I think if I write about it then I might learn about it. I’ve read that imagination can be an effective searcher.’

‘And you’re trying to find this answer through your poetry, is that what you’re saying?’

‘Yes. But I can’t do it because this Mason, or whoever the hell he is, is interfering in my work.’

He’d confessed it too hastily. Not only that but to the one person he felt he shouldn’t have.

’I do sound crazy, don’t I?

Carol put her pen down.

‘Dorsett. I remember a writer once saying that sometimes when he’s working, he is so much into the lives of his characters that they are almost detached from what he’s writing. He reads it the next day and can hardly believe that he’s responsible for it. Have you ever had that feeling?’

‘I know what you’re saying. I do feel a little off the surface when I’m writing but this is different. I feel no association at all with it. And yet it doesn’t look out of place. It’s as if I’m a parent with a child that isn’t mine.’

‘Perhaps that’s what’s happening here.’ said Carol. ‘If we could somehow re-connect that association then maybe we could begin to solve the problem.’

‘It wouldn’t solve the riddle that is- or was- Mason though, would it?’

‘This other story of yours: have you returned to it yet?’

‘No. After all that’s been happening lately, I haven’t had time.’

‘I suggest you do that. Go back and finish it. It might be a coincidence, but Sam told me that all these complications seem to have started about the same time you left that work. If you finish it, it might leave you a bit clear-headed to start this new work afresh. You mentioned before that you were asking two questions.’

‘Yes. The Garbutt one is the universe expansion question and the verse I’m working on now is about its beginning.’

‘Shouldn’t that be the other way round?’

‘Not if you believe in the theory that the universe regenerates, that it repeats itself infinitely. Then it doesn’t matter which end you start with.’

‘A bit like the chicken and the egg.’ Said Carol

‘I suppose so.’

‘And you haven’t seen Mason at all since?’

‘No.’

‘What was the last thing he said to you?’

Dorsett tried hard to remember and yet heard himself repeat it almost word for word.

’He said, ‘Don’t spend too long away from Garbutt because the sooner you return, the more productive you’ll become in your own work. And don’t tell Sam about our talk as it wouldn’t be helpful.’ That was it.’

They looked at each other and agreed in silence, two suggestions that seemed prophetic.

‘Maybe he was right.’ he said.

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