Prompt: A sad male poet secretly does magical needlepoint
I’m actually surprised I’m allowed to tell my own story here. I thought for sure he would’ve stopped me. Can he not make it past the veil? Truly? It does make a sort of sense. If my art can’t make it, if nobody’s can, then the force that opposes it is similarly kept out. Do you keep anything else out here? Sadness? Pain? A poet can hope.
So this is my account, yes? I’m saying it. You’re putting it in stone, the stone that goes back to the beginning, and there it will stay. It is my true footprint. I know my art will never last as long, but I’m proud of it, especially what I did in those last few moments, with the heat of that beautiful needle.
You’ll have to excuse me if I get poetic, as it’s in my nature. You know that. So, my life. My name is Osh: a name prone to rhyming. People have always called me things I wasn’t: posh mostly. I would call it a string name, one that gets strung up alongside all its little rhymes and turned into songs or insults, sometimes both. Sam the ham on the lamb… That sort of thing.
It was in observing these strings as they moved in the cultural current, like fish, that I became absorbed in the arts of word and meter. I wrote poetry, which increased the number of insults I received from my fellows at school, but that in turn only increased my inspiration, for I saw their words swim with all the rest.
I’m a best-seller you know. He can’t take that away from me, as it is in my past. Those best-sellers were treatises on miscommunication. One of them ended a war. I know it’s conceited to say, but it’s just a fact that I can end wars with my verse. That was why I was so shocked when he came for me, at my most vulnerable moment no less.
Some might say it was my fault, as I dabbled in magic. Just like the insults, I never see a reason for a resource to go untapped. Magic can mingle with poetry just as it can with anything else, except love of course. If you mix love and magic you’re liable to wind up with children who know more than you do at birth. Anyway, I digress. I mixed magic into my writing, mostly to help with visualization. If you look at the letter B or the letter P when it is written by me you can see things in their enclosed spaces. A B of mine is two pools full of imagery, that imagery depending on the individual work, of course.
That magic made my work jump off the shelves, sometimes literally. After the war ended, the one I ended, I sequestered myself in a small cottage overlooking a sea cliff. I wanted the strong, cold, salty wind to pull away my old inspirations: all those strings of words I spoke of. I was desperate to see if I could create my own inspiration from whole cloth. So I set a blank page down, took up my finest pen, a gift from my most beautiful fan, and started work on my greatest creation.
That was the plan anyway. I didn’t make it far before the sounds came. Smashing. Crashing. Bashing. Taunting me with their ability to rhyme, just like the inspiration I’d tried to scour away. I tried to keep writing, but soon its steps shook the desk, and the page, and my pen. When I couldn’t complete a D and fill it with magic, I was forced to whirl around in my seat and look out the only window. Just as I did, a great block of stone, utterly featureless, rolled in front of it and blocked out most of the light.
I tried the door and found it blocked as well. Now, I knew the stories. I knew his presence was my fault, but that didn’t stop me from feeling fear all the same. I was trapped in the cabin with no food, no water, and as of the very moment the sunlight vanished, no inspiration. I couldn’t even work as I starved. It was all the work of the stone: the Takitforgranite.
It is the physical embodiment of the writer’s block. Its stone is quite literal, and it wanders the land in search of the artists who dare push the envelope, who dare to include some of the magic that animated it in their works. I tried to oppose the stone. If I could create with its oppressive aura on all sides, I could break through it. I would be free to end as many wars as I liked, or perhaps even start one with an excellently-crafted insult.
I thought I would have the power, but the Takitforgranite was relentless. It groaned in my ear: the determination of whatever soft pitiful creature actually lived inside that square stone shell. Perhaps it used to be a writer itself, no, a sculptor. That’s more thematic. I couldn’t get a single word onto the page. I grew claustrophobic, cold, and itchy. Then I gained every other malady: hunger, the sniffles, insomnia, paranoia…
A profound sadness occurred when all of these symptoms coalesced. The blank page turned the very color of the Takitforgranite, right before my eyes. I knew, without a doubt, that it was not a surface that could hold ink. The words would slide off and slither between the floorboards, never available for reclamation. I wept, directing my tears onto the gray page, but they slid off as well. I couldn’t even make a mark.
I suspected my own death on the sixth day without food or drink. The Takitforgranite showed no signs of moving. I would die for my magical meddling, and it would roll away, on its awkward square sides, the moment my heart stopped. It wouldn’t even reflect on my passing, because it was without passion or thought. Whether through its increasing stony nature or my increasing weakness, I could no longer even lift the blank page. It was heavier than a tragic ending in the world’s longest book.
All I wanted was one more sip from the font of the great muse, one more thing to notice in the mundane world. I checked the sparse furniture of the cabin one last time. Nothing under the bed. Nothing but silverware in the cupboards. Nothing but needle, thread, and a few other craft supplies in the nightstand. I paused. My starved mind moved like sludge, but it got there. Craft. CRAFT. CRAFT. I didn’t need the page. I had needle, thread, and the memories of my grandmother, who taught me the art of needlepoint.
I leaned against the cold surface of Takitforgranite, looked away from him, and poked the needle through. My technique was terrible, but solid enough to form words. The stone groaned as it realized what I was doing. It was so intent on ruining my page that it had forgotten the nature of creativity; it grows, branches, sneaks into where it doesn’t belong.
I wept the whole time, for the sadness still gripped me. I think by the end of it my tears were turning to stone as well. I heard them hit the ground, and they stung when they squeezed out of my eyes. Still, I persevered. It wasn’t my human spirit, but the spirit of the muse, who I now believe lives somewhere out here in the the ethereal realm, with you lot and all your records.
She pushed those stone tears from my channels, and those words through that needle. I wrote one sentiment: a fine end to an admittedly severely truncated work. Are you curious? Yes, you’re leaning forward. Don’t pretend! I saw that! There’s no shame in it. I wrote this sentiment:
You cannot take it for granted if you don’t have it. Let it free. Watch it go
That was it. A beautiful line. I expected it to crack Takitforgranite immediately, as it was genuine inspiration. Except… real inspiration goes with real action. If I was to set this creation free… Well there was only one way to do it while trapped. I had to sever my connection to it, that thick fibrous pride of mine. Having ended a war was actually a problem now. It made that bundle thicker.
Still, here I am. I proved I didn’t need to be there for the work to succeed and grow. I took that knitting needle, infused as it was with my magic and the muse’s, and drove it through my left eye. Death. Darkness. Whiteness. Here. There’s your account. I don’t even need you to confirm it. I know that sentence is off in the living world, growing like ivy, threatening to hold Takitforgranite still.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by post_apocalyptic_fit during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!