Deadline

 

My hand trembles as I write these words and my heart is racing, beating so loudly I can barely hear myself think, let alone formulate sentences and put them to paper. Still, one by one, the words appear under my pen, summoned by my weary mind.

Just a little bit more; I’m almost finished. Just a few paragraphs and my story will be told. I do not know whether it is a good story or not. I do not know why I am telling it, or to whom. I do not even know if anyone will ever see it, much less praise or criticise it. All I know is, I have to get it out of me, I have to turn my thoughts, wretched and old as they are, into words, and relieve my poor, exhausted mind from this burden.

I started too late; I know that now. The words have been inside me for ages, struggling to break free, but I never let them. Too busy, I told myself, always moving, always doing this, doing that. Finding small, terrible excuses to shut the words inside me, hold onto them tightly, for fear they might escape and… and… and be heard. Be read, be judged.

I took too long, I know I did. And now, as I struggle to put the last few bricks of text on top of each other, and thus complete this cyclopean wall my work has become, I can feel him standing over me. He is silent, never moving, but I know he is there, and I know he is watching.

I am not sure exactly when he appeared, but he did so as silently as he now stands behind me, just a few feet away from me, patiently waiting for me to… what? Is he going to allow me to finish? Will he leave me just enough time to write that last word, then put his hand on my shoulder and signal it is time to go? Will he step over, peer over my shoulder and judge what I have put to paper, then decide what my fate shall be?

I can feel his eyes on my back, as I write. He is staring right at me, but his eyes are not accusing; they are not chastising, or cruel. He is simply waiting, not saying a word, and that is completely and utterly maddening. I would rather he pointed right at me, stared with eyes of cold fire, and growled that my time is up, that I am finished. It would have been much easier than this crazed sprint, this racing the clock, this frantic scrawling of words onto paper, to get it all out, to get everything on there, to finish before I am done.

The haze in my mind grows thicker; I’m not even sure what I’m writing now, or where the words I see appearing in front of me are coming from. Am I still writing? Am I the one holding the pen? How much time do I have? I think he’s coming closer. Any minute now he’s going to touch my shoulder and I will be done. Faster! I have to write faster! It’s only a few more lines now, only a few more words.

A few more, and I’ll be

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Michael Tegos

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