He offered me pristine white paper to write on, and I accepted it gladly, filling it with outlines and plots and characters, each connected by arrows and bubble clouds and crossings out. He watched me work; a silent sentinel guarding me from distractions who smiled whenever I looked up, nodding his encouragement.
I wrote longhand and forgot the time. There were no windows and the door was behind me—just a fluorescent light overhead to dispel shadows from the table. Page after page I wrote, picking up a new pencil whenever the current one ran became a stub. He always made sure the next was freshly sharpened.
I ignored the hunger. If I didn’t eat, I needn’t leave the room at all, and if my clothes felt a little looser, so much the better. After two hundred pages my fingers were sore. After five hundred I couldn’t open my hand to release the pencil. After a thousand I could see bone through the calluses.
When I finished the book he stood to shake my hand. My legs were more like sticks and wouldn’t support my weight but he didn’t seem to mind. He patted my shoulder as he passed and I could hear the door open and close, even if I couldn’t turn my head.
I waited for about an hour until the door opened again. A different man sat down and handed me a stack of white paper covered in tiny, crabbed handwriting. I looked at him, and he smiled and nodded and handed me an eraser.
Rachel Green is a forty-something writer from Derbyshire, England. She lives with her two partners and three dogs. She was the regional winner of the Undiscovered Authors 2007 and her novel An Ungodly Child was published in 2008. When not writing, Rachel walks her three dogs, potters in the garden and drinks copious amounts of tea.