Andrew Wilson had been staring at the blank sheet of paper for the last five minutes. He tapped out a handful of words on his 1955 Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter that he had bought from a pawn shop in Phoenix for $10 bucks more than twenty years ago. Since then, the typewriter traveled the country with him and helped write hundreds of short stories, twenty-seven novels including a few best sellers, and a motion picture script or two.
The next morning, he entered his office with his usual breakfast in hand and began his regular pre-work routine with a few additional tasks. He removed the trash bin from beneath the desk and dumped its contents onto the floor. Twisting the deadbolt, he locked the door and took a seat in front of the Royal. He slipped a sheet around its platen and gave himself a comfortable margin. Andy adjusted his mirror to make sure he could see the words that appeared on the floor behind him. The first message of the day was waiting for him.
Good morning Andy. I hope you had a good night with your family. Are you ready to get to work?
“Yes, it was a nice evening,” Andy said. “Let’s get started.”
When he glanced at the mirror a small paragraph consisting of several lines were waiting for him. He read through it quickly. “Wow. That’s good,” he said and began typing it out. When he turned back to the mirror several more lines were waiting for him. Andy’s subconscious took very little time to connect the dots and form the words he would find in the mirror. There always were new lines ready for him, the moment his gaze turn toward the mirror.
With his paper companions able to give him multiple lines of text at a time, he filled pages even quicker than before. As the minutes ticked by, the first page filled quickly. It wasn’t long before Andy pulled the sheet from the Royal and fed it the next. With every passing hour the manuscript continued to grow. This went on until noon, when he glanced into the mirror and saw several mounds of paper and a simple message.
Time to stop. GO EAT!
Andy’s stomach growled. He pushed away from the desk and got to his feet. He carried his empty breakfast plate and coffee mug to the door, unlocked it, and strolled to the kitchen whistling. He was pleased with himself. He was writing and there was little that he enjoyed more than the process of getting a story out of his head and onto paper.
As he ate, he considered the work he had achieved with the aid of his hallucinations. It was some of his best work so far and it was being written in record time. At their current pace, the first draft could be finished in as little as thirty days. His imaginary assistants were able to cut through the doubt, uncertainty, and other crap that stood between the story he wanted to tell and the one that actually ended up on the page. In a lot of ways, this was the purest story he had ever told. He didn’t even know where it was going. Andy was just going along for the ride.
Usually, when he sat down to write, he had some idea of where he wanted the story to go. He had a vision of the endgame, or an outline of the trials and tribulations his characters would experience throughout their journey together. However, this story was different. Every step of the journey was unfolding on the floor behind him. If he didn’t know any better, he would swear that the story wasn’t his despite all of the evidence to the contrary.
With his lunch finished, Andy carried his dishes to the sink, rinsed, and loaded the dishwasher. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and returned to his office. Locking the door behind him, Andy took his seat and prepared for another marathon session at the Royal. He removed a stack of fresh paper from the drawer and fed his old friend. When he was ready to begin, he checked the mirror and continued transcribing the story.
Page after page made the short journey from one side of the Royal to the other. While one stack dwindled, the other increased by an equal amount. Andy’s fingers rarely stopped as he transferred the lines from the mirror to the page.
The story was coming together. The characters were interesting, and the tension was rising when Andy saw the word he had been dreading for the last hour.
“No!” Andy cried out. “It’s just starting to get exciting. I want to see what happens to them.”
It’s time to rest. We’ll pick it up in the morning. Now, go and be with your family.
“Fine,” Andy said as he rose from his chair and began his end of the day ritual. He picked up the manuscript from where the bookmark separated the day’s progress from the rest of his work. He flipped through it as he carried it to the multifunction printer. He laid it down on the document feeder and began the scanning process, appending the text from those new pages to the end of the document he had been editing in the evenings. When he turned away from the printer, there was a new message.
We need more paper.
Andy returned to his desk and removed two stacks of paper from the drawer. Laying the first stack beside the Royal for tomorrow, the other he wadded up and tossed over his shoulder. A few minutes later, the last sheet was added to the pile. He quickly checked the mirror and saw that it was satisfied.
He laid the trash bin on its side and allowed the paper to take shelter within it before stowing it away under his desk. Andy turned to the computer and ensured the manuscript had imported properly. After saving the document, he picked up the pages, returned them to their proper place beside the Royal, and laid his bookmark upon it. Finally, he picked up his empty water bottle and left his office for the day.
At dinner, Andy asked his children, “How was the trip to the zoo? Did you see a kangaroo?”
Jenny instantly became excited and started listing off all of the animals she had seen, including the marsupial that sparked the trip. “And then, mommy bought me a kangaroo,” she said finishing up.
“What? Where are we going to keep a kangaroo? I don’t think the house is big enough,” Andy said with a smile.
“It’s not a real kangaroo,” Brian added. “It’s only a stuffed animal from the gift shop.”
“Oh,” Andy said with a chuckle. “What else did you do?”
“After the zoo, Mom took us to the toy store,” Brian said. It was his turn to get excited. “I got two new action figures. Wanna see?”
“Maybe later,” Andy said. “Right now, just finish your dinner.” Andy turned his attention to Jessie. “How about you, Jessie? Did you pick up anything from today’s excursion?”
“Mom did take me by the book store afterward,” Jessie said. “We picked up a couple of books for me and one for Tabby.”
“That’s good,” Andy said. “What did you get Tabby?”
Tabby’s smile lit up the room. “I got a study guide for my learner’s permit. Mom said that if I study real hard and pass the written portion, I could be driving by the end of the summer.”
“She did?” Andy said. “Well, then, you better get to studying.”
“I am,” Tabby said. “I’m going to ace that test. Just wait; you’ll see.”
Andy turned to his wife and said, “It looks like you’ve had a full day.”
“It has been,” Judy said setting her fork down. “Who’s ready for desert? I have cheesecake.”
The children cheered as Judy rose from the table. Tabby gave her a hand.
After dinner, they retired to the living room. While everyone went about their regular activities, Andy continued working on his manuscript. He corrected the typos, bad grammar, and the various errors produced by the scanning process along with those he always seemed to make. He was still working on the first chapter of the story. The editing process usually took significantly longer with all of the corrections and rewriting. He usually waited for the entire manuscript to be completed before beginning to edit, but since he couldn’t spend his evenings writing, he had to do something to keep busy and editing made the most sense. After several hours of work, Andy retired to bed long after his children and his wife had.