Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Writing Room.”

A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

FAITH

It was not going well. A cuppa in hand, I sat down at my desk, looking forward to a day of writing. Two hours later, I’d typed a total of five words.

I thought back to the time when we’d first moved in and how much I always enjoyed the nesting process. There’s something about finding a place for everything that I find extremely satisfying. When I found a great desk at a bargain price, I knew the perfect place for it ~ facing a front window because, I reasoned, the peaceful, picturesque view would serve as inspiration for my writing projects. Sadly, my dreams of that being the “perfect writing place” were short-lived. The neighbors shattered any hope of concentration or the steady flow of creativity. The blinds on my windows didn’t block everything out; even closed, I could still see their shadows moving back and forth. Twice already, I’d stuck my head out the door, in crotchety scrooge-like fashion, requesting that they keep their bike-riding children on their side of the shared porch. I explained that I was working and needed to concentrate. It seemed to work for a while, but it wasn’t long before the kids were zooming past my window again. Sometimes I would look up and find a group of the neighbors glancing disdainfully at me through my window, undoubtedly complaining about me. That I was completely justified in expecting people to not trespass on my porch didn’t matter and I’m pretty certain that these people would loudly protest if I regularly took strolls on their porches.

I managed to block them out long enough to write a paragraph. Pleased with my progress, I made more tea. As soon as I returned to my desk, the power went out, shutting down my computer and all my work with it. Milliseconds later, it came back on, rebooting my machine. I opened my door to find my next door neighbor walking across my porch, looking guilty. “Did you shut off my power?” I asked, unable to hide my annoyance.

“Yes, I did. I thought I was accessing my circuit box, but it was yours.”

I blew out, in exasperation and took a couple of breaths before speaking again. In the calmest manner I could manage, I said, “You powered off my computer, causing me to lose my work.”

“I’m so sorry!” she said. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

High road…high road…high road… “In future, please make sure you’ve got the right circuit box if you’re going to do that.”

She nodded. “I’m sorry,” she offered again.

I forced a smile before closing my door and shook my head, silently cursing her.

A half hour later, I was sitting at the table of my favorite café, relishing the change in atmosphere. It was a damn shame I couldn’t peacefully write in my house, but it was a good excuse to be in my favorite place. I thought about my cold cup of tea on my desk {that I never got around to enjoying} as I took a sip of iced coffee. Soon, I was filling pages of my notebook, not especially paying attention to the steady flow of customers.

“Excuse me,” said the man at the next table.

I turned to look at him. “May I help you?”

“It’s a pity you have to come here to get away from all that nonsense where you live.”

With a raised eyebrow, I asked, “Do I know you?”

He smiled. “I know you.”

“Are you a neighbor who lives there?”

He shook his head. “Nah, nothing like that.”

“Well, what exactly are you like then?”

He ignored my question. “So, tell me…if you could create the perfect room to write and read in, what would it be like?”

I laughed. “Are you kidding me?”

Before I knew what was happening, he was sitting across from me at my table. “Seriously. Describe, in detail, what it would look like.”

“Okay,” I said. “It would be in a house with amazing views in all directions.”

“In the city? Rural area? Mountains? Beach?”

“Small town, with the coast in the distance. The property would have an orchard. Wraparound porch. Open deck, for looking at the stars. For me, it’s not just about the room itself, but the places I could go to for inspiration. The town would be a bit old-fashioned…small family businesses. No noise pollution. Peaceful. Friendliness. Close-knit community. The neighbors would be nearby, without being too close, if that makes sense. And it would have beautiful parks nearby. The architecture would have historical value and character. This town would inspire me everywhere I look. There’d be antique shops and an old-fashioned diner/café. The town would host really cool events in the park, like concerts and movie nights. My best friends would live nearby, maybe a five-minute walk. And the climate would be conducive to being outdoors all year round ~ not too hot or cold.”

“Carry on. You’re painting a pretty nice picture for me. Tell me more about the writing room itself.”

“Well, the room itself would be a library and office. My desk would be big enough to house my computer but still have a substantial writing surface. I would want to sit facing a big picture window, overlooking the town and the coast in the distance. I’d like a hutch on one wall, to keep everything in its place and within reach. The huge room would have walls lined with bookcases reaching the ceiling. The bookcases closest to my desk would have all of my reference material and notebooks. The chairs would be really comfortable and cushy for relaxing whilst reading. I’d have a decent stereo to play music…and a fridge for drinks and snacks.”

“Sounds awesome,” he said. “I think you will be really happy writing there.”

“If only, eh?” I laughed. “Maybe one day.”

“Maybe one day sooner than you think.” He stood from the table and walked toward the restroom.

I stared after him and as he opened the door and disappeared inside.

“Is everything okay?” asked one of the regular baristas.

“Did you see that man I was talking to?” I asked.

“Which one?”

“The one that just went into the bathroom.”

He shook his head. “Sorry, I didn’t notice.”

“Darn. I was about to ask if you’d seen him before. He claimed to know me.”

The barista laughed. “Ohhhh, I think someone has a secret admirer…”

I laughed, too. “Oh, I don’t think so. He was more interested in what my dream office would look like.”

“Really? That’s a bit strange.”

I turned my attention back to my notebook, glancing at the restroom door every so often. Twenty minutes later, he still hadn’t come out. “Okay, you need to go in there. He’s been in there a while. Maybe he needs help.”

The barista walked from behind the counter and knocked on the door. “Hello…are you okay in there?”

No response.

He knocked again. “Hello…we’re just a bit concerned about you. Can you give us a shout to let us know you’re okay?”

Still no response.

“Okay, I don’t want to have to do this but…” the barista turned the doorknob and pushed the door open, surprised it wasn’t even locked. He stuck his head in and turned to look at me. “Are you sure you saw him come in here?”

By this time, I was on my feet and joined him in the one-room bathroom. There were no windows leading outside so the door was the only way out. Was I going insane? The barista was looking at me with a concerned expression. I shrugged. “Maybe I just didn’t see him come out of here.”

When I got back to my table, there was an envelope with my name on it. This situation was getting creepier by the minute. Cautiously, I opened it and found a note, a map and a key.

The note said:

Dear Carol,

You’re not going insane. I’m sure you’re probably still trying to make sense of our exchange here, why I was asking so many questions, how I know you, how I managed to disappear from the restroom without a trace, how this envelope and its contents magically appeared at your table, detailing what just took place. How could I possibly do all of this in the time it took you to walk to the bathroom and back? The truth is, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. All I can do is tell you that a little faith goes a very long way and I know you have faith; it’s why you go to church as much as you can.

I also know how unhappy you’ve been, unable to find a home where you feel safe and at peace. I know you’ve waited a long time, endured a lot of pain, wondering when you would finally get something you really want. What you described to me across the table sounds pretty amazing, but I’m not surprised by your imagination considering you’ve had this idea for so many years. It’s your dream office/library and it SHOULD be amazing.

How do I know what I know? It’s not something I can fully explain but it’s probably the only way you’ll see that this is really happening. Again, this is where the faith bit comes in. You see, anything is possible if you want it badly enough. Your passion for writing is recognized by many; your compassion for others is very highly regarded in ways you can’t even imagine; your desire to help people must be facilitated in every way possible, but it won’t happen until you’re comfortable and at peace. I can guarantee that wouldn’t have happened if you stayed where you were. Who could work amidst such chaos, feeling such frustration?

The map will show you where to go ~ someplace you’ve always wanted to be. There’s enough room for your children, your best friends (who need a change of scenery, too!) and anything else you need to feel comfortable. You deserve to be surrounded by those you love, as you move on to do your work and fulfill your ultimate purpose.

If, after reading off of this, you still aren’t convinced it’s real, consider the following:

1. Your mom is watching over you from where she is, smiling because you’re happy and content. The success of your work will serve as a fitting tribute to the woman she was, having to endure what she did for most of her life. She is immensely proud of you and loves you very much.

2. When you finally reach the place marked on your map, when you realize that it’s all genuinely real, when you’re surrounded by those who love you most…smile and know that your past is truly behind you. All the years you spent wishing for freedom, feeling desperate to escape, living in constant fear of what would happen next, experiencing the isolation from everyone you missed, enduring the excruciating mind games at the hands of your abuser, functioning well despite the constant forced insomnia…you survived it all for a reason. You survived because your mother and your mother’s mother taught you about the importance of inner strength, dignity and grace. They raised you well and they knew you would go far. You need not feel smug toward your abuser for any of this, but it’s alright for you to feel accomplished, knowing that, for all he did to knock you down at every opportunity, he couldn’t keep you from where you are at this moment.

Take your key, your map, and go. Don’t worry about returning to your former place of residence. All signs of your existence there have been erased (faith!). The idea is that you never have to see those people again. Your new life begins when you exit this café and your first surprise awaits you just outside. Embrace and enjoy it!

All the best,

~ G.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I started to clear the table but my barista-friend stopped me. “I’ll get this.”

Grabbing my purse, phone, notebook and the envelope, I pushed the door open not knowing what to expect…and stood there, unable to move. “What the-?!”

There was no sign of my car in the space where I’d left it but in its place sat a beautiful SUV. Leaning against it were my children and my THREE best friends who lived in different parts of the country. How did they get here? They didn’t even seem the least bit puzzled. After we all hugged, M asked me for the map. “How did you know about the map?” I asked. M only responded with a smile which led me to believe they were all in on this…this…well, whatever “this” was.

After getting in the driver’s seat, I pulled down my sun visor and found a note saying, “Your car is okay. You’ll find it when you get to where you’re going. (I know how much you love it and couldn’t bear to part with it!  ~ G.).”

M was my navigator. We drove for what seemed like hours, talking, laughing, singing to songs on the radio. Finally, M said, “We’re nearly there.”

We drove into a town we’d never seen before, but it was just as I’d described to G at the table in the café. Old fashioned, family owned businesses, quiet, picturesque, lush flora. After passing through the town, we came to a neighborhood where the houses were a comfortable distance from each other. “Go that way,” M said, pointing to a road that took us through a scenic hilly part of town. When I saw the orchard, I knew we were close to our destination. Finally, we saw it ~ in the distance was…a beautiful house with a wraparound porch. When we pulled up to the driveway and got out to look around, I saw the views from where we were…beautiful scenery in every direction, just like I’d described. There, a bit farther in the driveway was my car! The property had a huge garden, a deck, multiple buildings, a pool(!). M took my hand and led me up the stairs to the front door. Armed with the key, I let us in and looked around. Down the hallway was a door with a sign that said, “Office / Library” and I couldn’t resist going in. It was a good thing M was behind me because I nearly fell into his arms. The office was just as I described, just as I’d pictured it in my mind the millions of times I daydreamed about it.

I walked over to the desk and sat in the chair, still unable to believe that I was there. Surely, it had to be a dream.

“This is amazing, mum,” my daughter said, throwing herself onto one of the sofas.

I could feel M’s presence behind me seconds before he said, “I believe you have another note.”

“There was a sheet of paper taped to the hutch; when I pulled it down to read it, all I could do was smile.  The message was very simple.

It said: “Welcome home.”

I looked at my friends, one by one. “Did y’all have anything to do with this?”

“We didn’t,” M said, as the others shook their heads.

I stood up, walked to the window and spent some time looking at my new surroundings. This HAD to be a joke. By describing my dream office to a stranger in a café, it just instantly materialized? Things like this didn’t just happen…especially to me. Just as I was about to turn away from the window, my gaze was drawn to a figure standing on the path leading to the house and when I realized who it was, my eyes widened. It was G from the café, smiling up at me, holding a sign that said, “FAITH!”  When he was certain I saw the sign, he nodded to me before turning to walk away.

“Mum, what is it?” my daughter asked.

I turned to face everyone and said, “You didn’t see that man outside?”

Everyone joined me at the window to see who I was talking about. When I turned around to point to him, he was gone. I had a clear view of the long path all the way to the main road. There was no way that G could have covered that distance so quickly. All I could do was smile, in silence, knowing that nobody would question me further. I had everything I wanted, right where I was.

And, I had FAITH.

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7 thoughts on “Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal

  1. Five words in two hours? I’ve been there before.
    Your writing room sounds lovely. A view of the coast could put anyway at ease. Personally, I think I’d like a small space with no windows, and warm lighting. Cream colored walls. The smell of coffee would be in the air, whether I was drinking some or not. I kind of like the idea of fluffy pillows being somewhere in there.

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  2. Hi, Sarah! (That’s my daughter’s name. 🙂 )

    {Five words in two hours} is more common than I’d like to admit.I tend to suffer writer’s block most often when I’m at my desk, staring at my screen but going to the café, with my notebook and a pen, works like magic. That was my method at age 12 and I believe that’s why it works so well for me now.

    Fluffy pillows on cushy chairs and the smell of coffee…what an awesome combination for a writing room.

    If you want to read about an interesting writing room, I suggest reading the post I linked to in my most recent post ~ http://toofulltowrite.com/2013/02/03/daily-prompt-writing-room-my-ideal-readingwriting-utopia/ ; the author has some really cool ideas! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Kindest Regards,
    Carol

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