“A Conversation with Greta”

“You seem pretty angry today. Or is it impatient?” she began. She had found me in my room, where I can always be found, sitting on the bed with the laptop, staring at a blank page and frowning. “What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know. I’m just filled with so many strong emotions right now. Some of them I don’t understand… and worse, as always, I can’t even move without an obstacle in the way. There’s so much I need to do, I don’t know how to properly divide my time.” My eyes never left the computer screen.

“And I’m scared,” I admitted.

“Yes, it’s a big step for you. This may be the first risk you’ve ever taken,” Greta started.

“Wait, I…”

“Right, that didn’t involve asking someone out.” She nodded impatiently. “Which was what, one time before? So, still an accurate statement.” She sat down next to me on the bed. Our bed, which was just big enough for two, if we were serene sleepers. But we aren’t. We compromise – I get all the covers, she kicks me to the floor. I hadn’t made the bed, either, before I set up shop on it for the day.

“Yeah, but it’s not the risk I’m worried about. Mostly, it’s that all my negatives will be too great for me to overcome. I’m doing this alone. And worse, I don’t know what I’m doing,” I sighed. Life changes are serious work and I’ve never been one to be organized.

“You’re not doing this alone.” She reached out and put her small, soft hand on mine. Briefly. As if it had been an accident. The touch lingered on my skin because I was desperate for it. I rubbed my hand to be rid of it. “I just can’t help you with this directly.”

I nodded sadly, finally summoning up the courage to look over at Greta. In the kindest words, she’s a monster, absolutely terrifying to behold. Long, long, glimmering tawny hair, untamed and curly. The bulk of it always fell to her shoulders and it was easy to trace those lines over a thin throat to a delicate porcelain chin with pale lips that never wore lipstick. She was beautiful, but then, she was supposed to be.

I couldn’t look past her mouth before I smiled and looked away, embarrassed, shy. She leaned into me, weight that I hardly noticed. “You need to be more diligent, I think. You know? On Sundays, take a pen and your calendar and map out what planning needs to be done by when that week.”

“I never thought of that. It’ll give me a sense of deadline, too.”

“That’s what I mean, dummy. That ‘pressure’ that you need to work, plus whatever you put on there to focus on, you probably will.” I smiled.

“You’re right, of course,” I said.

“‘Of course,'” she mocked. “But that’s not all, it’s just what I can think of now.” I closed the laptop and put it aside so I could find her hand with mine. Somehow, as I closed around her fist, it seemed like there was nothing in there at all, a faint whisper of what remained. “There are still so many other things you have to do.”

“I know,” I said quietly. I craned my head to rest on hers and smelled her weird sweet almond shampoo.

“It’s good news for you that all of the smart, brilliant writers are tortured idiots, too.”

I think Greta might be the only person that understands me. I wish I had the courage to say that out loud. “Where did you hear that? That can’t possibly be true.”

“I didn’t hear it anywhere, it’s what you need to hear. I’m sure it’s true in at least one instance, like everything is. So you can believe it.” She sighed and closed her eyes. I didn’t have to look at her eyes to know that they were puffy and red. The angry red bled into the calm, deep, brown of her eyes in a heartbreaking way that reminded me of all the life that yet lived in her, even if they didn’t shine anymore.

“What else can I do? Have you thought of anything? I hope you didn’t just come in here to sleep on me.” I can be so insensitive, but it’s because I don’t understand.

“No, I didn’t,” she loosed her hand from mine and got off the bed. I regretted what I said as I missed her against me. “What else can you do? Finish and reread your lessons. You have enough to get started and you know what to do… Are you already making excuses?”

“No, I’m afraid because it’s all unknown. I think, more, by being sure of it, I’m finally seeing the future and all the stuff that I really don’t know about.” And more, but I could never admit that.

“Ah, gwan.*” She groaned. “Most of that stuff you won’t even have to worry about until after you’ve done the impossible. You know? Even subconsciously, you’ve been paying attention to what to do. You’ll know when the time is right.”
* = It’s “go” and “on” mooshed together, that’s as close as I can guess as to how it sounds.

“You’re so positive.” She moved towards the door. Once she left my room, I knew she’d leave the house. I couldn’t let those be my last words, I tried to look up to her nose at least.

It was small and delightfully pointed, like a young witch-in-training. She grinned at me in a wicked way as if she knew what I was thinking. “I’ll see ya.” She paused in the doorway. I swear I could see the parts of her that were beyond the room melt away into the ether.

“Remember,” she began, “You’re that special kind of weird that will help you write special things. As cliched as the advice is, just be yourself. Learn all the rules, forget all the rules, love it and hate it, because that’s passion. You won’t make it without that.”

She was mostly gone now, “You’ll never know it, but you are an inspiration to your friends and family.” I smiled. “As a blind, deaf idiot, they’re amazed you made it this far and they love you for it.”

“Wait!” I called, finally, my arm reaching out like an infant for her mother. But she was gone, until the next time.


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