it was a moment of clarity. he sat on the porch, where he always sat, and the yellow sunlight was there, placating as ever, but not. he looked through it, saw it as one sees a photograph taken by a stranger of a place one has never visited.

twenty years he'd been here. this spot, this porch, this bamboo chair with its split and often mended seat. twenty years with the same brand of cheap whiskey huddled up against his groin, getting warm in the evening sun. twenty years of odd jobs where the work was the different but the feeling was the same at the end of the day. twenty years of working just enough to stay on the dole. twenty terrifying years of sweating as he sat in front of the typewriter, too drunk to see the keys, distracted by the laughing catcalls of the working girls on the street below. twenty years worth of crumpled up, half-used paper in the trash next to his desk.

he turned to see his reflection in the glass of the boarding house window. he still wore his hair the same, bought the same cotton t-shirts in packs of three from the drugstore. smoked the same cigarettes, pack after pack, and flirted with the same aging cashier every evening when he went to buy more, and every two or three days a bottle. but he saw his features had betrayed him, all this time transforming themselves little by little, a wrinkle getting deeper here, a liver spot darkening there.. it was so clear, in hindsight, how they had plotted against him. he could never pass for twenty-three, when his old man had thrown him out, finally. couldn't pass for twenty-four, when the money had stopped coming.

then, he hadn't cared. he didn't need his dad's filthy money because soon he would be famous and that in itself was worth more than a hundred bucks a month. he could die content, once he got famous.

but he couldn't help but notice it had never happened. where did the plans go, all the dreams he promised himself when he was fresh and so cocky? how did he become so.. predictable?

all these years he'd missed.. he was seized by the desire, nay, the need to go and write it, what had been haunting his mind all this time, always teetering on the edge of being caught and penned or blowing away like a stack of paper out an open window. he got up from his chair, unsteady with the force and suddeness of the movement, and his eyes were fixed purposefully on the door. he licked his lips at the thought of the first delicious sentence, like the burning kiss of the girl he loved in high school who would someday show up on his doorstep and say it was him she had lusted after all along.

he stopped, then, because it wasn't there.

and the girl he loved in high school had been married for years, grown big and surly. shaking, he went back to the bamboo chair and set himself down. he heard a new rip, or an old wound opening again. he drank once from the whiskey bottle before he buried his face in his big, calloused palms, shoulders shaking, barking out silent, tragic sobs.

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