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 day was like the one before and the one after it. Such was the life of a writer, sitting at a keyboard for hours, days, and weeks at a time stubbornly getting the story out of their head and onto the page. Sure, he had some help in getting the vision out of his head, but the mechanism that enabled him to do so was an indication of a possibly serious psychological issue. He would have to seek help about it sooner than later, but first he would use it to his advantage and finish this novel.
As the pages in his manuscript continued to grow, so did the pile of discarded paper on the floor behind him. At the end of each day’s work, they would demand more and more sheets added to their number as compensation for their help. Andy gladly gave them what they wanted and by the end of the first week, he had to bring in a second trash bin and another the week after.
“Why do you need more paper?” Andy asked at the end of the day, more than three weeks into the project. They didn’t need any more to convey the story they wanted him to write. The excess paper was merely appearing around the periphery of the mirror as mounds and designs that seemed to serve no specific purpose.
It is the price we ask. Give us more.
“And, if I refuse,” Andy asked.
Then we will no longer help you write this story.
Andy didn’t know how to respond to that. He was certain that the messages the paper were sending him were hallucinations, but if he refused to give in to its demands, would his subconscious decide to work against him again. Would he once again plunge into the despair of writer’s block for refusing to give in to their demands? He was disturbed by the thought that his hallucinations were giving him orders, but he couldn’t risk it right now. He had come too far already with this story to just abandon it. Andy decided to acquiesce one last time and added another stack of paper to the growing piles of paper. It was that moment Andy decided to schedule an appointment to talk to a therapist right away despite the nightly warnings.
Tell no one about us.
Andy didn’t say anything to his wife or kids during dinner about his intention to seek psychiatric assistance. He didn’t think they would understand, especially once he started babbling about wads of paper writing his latest story for him. For the time being, it was better for everyone if he just kept his mouth closed.
After dinner, he tried to focus on editing the manuscript but found that he could not concentrate on the task at hand. Andy had too many questions about what was happening to him. Instead, he spent the evening on the Internet searching for answers to his questions, and wound up even more confused than he had begun. He decided to leave it to the professionals and schedule time with a psychiatrist not far from his house during his lunch break tomorrow.
After the kids had gone to sleep, Judy took the tablet from Andy and asked, “What is wrong with you tonight?”
“You were quiet during dinner and hid behind your tablet all night long. I don’t think you said two words to the kids. Plus, you’ve been working on the same page for the last two hours. Something is bothering you. What is it?”
His wife knew his moods all too well. They had been married a long time and rarely kept secrets from one another. But, Andrew had never tried keeping anything this big from her. She needed to know. She deserved to know that he was losing his mind. He didn’t think he was a danger to his kids, her or himself, but if he were out of his mind, could he risk it any longer – especially now that his hallucinations were issuing vague threats.
What if he told her? Would the paper … No. Would he do something about it? Could he harm his wife or his children?
No. Andy couldn’t tell her what was going on. Not yet. He would talk to Dr. Porter tomorrow, get some meds, and put the hallucinations behind him. If it meant dealing with writer’s block once again, so be it. He had survived it before and will do so again. The story was so far along now, he was certain he could work out the rest of it without the aid of his hallucinations.
“It’s nothing I can talk about,” Andy finally said. “I want to tell you, but I can’t right now.”
The frown on Judy’s face said it all. She was not pleased with his answer.
Andy continued, “If everything goes as expected, I will tell you tomorrow after my noon appointment.”
“Appointment?” Judy finally said. “What appointment?”
“Don’t worry about it for tonight,” Andy said. “Tomorrow, I’ll tell you everything.”
“Damn it, Andrew. Tell me something. Is your appointment with a doctor? Tell me that at least.” Judy demanded. “If you’re sick, I need to know.”
“Please, Judy,” Andy said. “Right now, the less you know, the better off we’ll all be.”
Judy got up, handed him his tablet, and left the room without another word. She was upset. Andy set the tablet down and sat in his living room alone in the dark, wondering if he had done the right thing.