THE ROPE AROUND MY NECK
By Joy Imali
Or the proud owner of dontdateawriter.wordpress.com.
Which is absurd, if you ask me. Writers are ridiculously dateable. Even the ones with geeky glasses and introvert tendecies. Especially those ones.
Really, though, I won’t steal the show any longer. Here goes Miss Asena.
Surprise, surprise… I have a rope around my neck.
There’s something about 3 a.m. that inspires the demons of the soul to arise and perform a cha-cha dance right before your disbelieving eyes. I mean, you’ve had a long day what with push-y, shove-y editors and their pushier, shove-ier deadlines. And when push comes to shove, you, the writer, shove your writing pad into a sling-bag and push the door whose sign reads pull and walk into the polluted air of the city to find inspiration. You walk around the city and sniff at the air with its coffee and deodorant and desperation and go home with a story in your eyes about a girl with comely legs and not-so-comely eyebrows. You brew coffee, stir in three spoons of sugar that diabetes would approve of and cut up three wrinkled oranges after which you settle down to write.
At 1a.m., you think the story is coming round quite nicely. Words are bowing down to the strength of your pen. 2a.m. and you can’t decide whether to name your protagonist Zawadi or Zuhura. 3a.m. your hand is bowing down to the weight of the words and you think that perhaps Zawadi should be transgender and a British spy. 3.10a.m. and the witchy hour is at nigh. Your life, nay, lives flash before your eyes. All the characters you’ve created, killed, prostituted, misrepresented… the demons are awake and they want to dance. ‘I’m sorry; I don’t know how to do the salsa.’ You resist. They, however, are unrelenting. They are very persuasive you see, you did give most of them iron wills and in the case of Kimani, who murdered his brother over a land issue, an iron club and before you know it you are tap-dancing and gyrating to music only you can hear.
I did mention I have a rope around my neck, didn’t I? In my right hand I hold a whiskey shot glass and in the left a suicide note. I’ve had a long, hard day. The editor’s assistant decided to be very brief with her dressing today; her skirt could have very easily been the shredded remains of a pillowcase. That girl I mentioned above, the one I saw on the street, her name is Amy. She was the A on my alphabet. Naming her with the alphabet Z was to try to convince myself that I am over her. The coffee, sugar and oranges I pilfered from the office kitchen; the oranges were in the bin. I have enslaved myself to words because I am a writer. The shackles I have borne thus far have chafed my ankles and wrists and I have had enough. All I want to do now is… the phone rings.
Sigh, it’s my editor. ‘Yes, I am done with the story. Yes, it’ll be in your inbox in five minutes. Yes, I will not sexually harass your assistant with my penetrating gaze. Good night sir.’ It’s 3.53a.m. I have a rope around my neck but I haven’t yet fixed it to the nail I drove into the ceiling. I settle into my seat once more. The heavy rope still wound around me feels like a comforting anchor. I slave away at my keys and create another character. This one I name Linda, and I take care not to arm her with six inch stilettos just in case she shows up tomorrow night and asks to tap-dance with me.
I have a rope around my neck; I just haven’t tied it up yet.