Thursday, October 11, 2007

Creative Writing Prompt 10/11/07

"How did you get up there? Write about something that happened on the roof." From

Before I tell you why I'm up here... on the roof... in the cold with the wind trying angrily to push me off the edge, let me tell you how I ended up with such a silly prompt. In an effort to write more regularly, I've taken to ingesting large quantities of fiber to help me get the literary shit out. That's right, that's what I think of my writing. Well, the only way to get better is to shit more. So I figured the roof is a great place to start a little pile.

That's why. Here's how, tThough I hesitate to tell you the truth.

I have a well-practiced and much-rehearsed answer that I tell to everyone else, even my closest friends and relatives: the stairs at the back of the building, then the ladder in the alcove up through the dark tunnel to the horizontal door.

The truth?

This morning was rough. The alarm, despite its best efforts, failed in its assigned task. Even its shrillest cries could not pierce my sonorous slumber. Something in a disturbing dream I can not recall woke me and I am thankful for that blessed curse, for had my sleep been more restful I would not have left the bed until the sunlight burnt holes in my eyelids.

In a dreamstate, only fractionally awake and scarcely aware of my surroundings I stumbled to the shower. The warm, soothing, mist did nothing to clear the clouds from my mind. With my thoughts still wrapped warmly in the thick blankets of my bed, my eyes struggling to lift the infinitely heavy veil of my eyelids, I found my clothes, keys, briefcase, and the bus stop.

Silent, empty, and still, the cavernous reading room yawned its welcome. The library would not open to patrons for another hour, and with many of the librarians away at a conference, she seemed isolated and cold. It did not help that the marble floor, pillars, walls, ceiling, were of a shade of gray perfectly matched to the icy sky outside her windows and that the sound of the wind howled balefully from the ventilation system. A chill breeze brushed away callously my comfortable jacket of body heat it had taken so long to achieve. Confused, I looked for an open window and found none.

But there, six stories overhead, amidst the shadows and darkness in the recesses of the vaulted ceiling, I saw what I can now only describe vaguely as a portal. A black, sinister, opening that appeared, at such a distance, to be little larger than a sheet of paper. With no morning tasks yet to occupy me, I climbed the narrow spiral staircase to the serials collection filled with a growing curiosity.

The sixth floor lines the walls of the library, opening in the middle to gaze down dizzily at the floor of the reading room and the intervening mezzanine levels filled with books and journals aged from new-born publications to withered and wizened elder monographs. The perspective never suited me, throwing distance and depth into chaotic disarray. I have never done well with heights, it is no secret.

As my eyes adjusted to the dim light that seemed to reach up meekly from the lamps on the floor so far below, I noticed that same shadow among shadows. The darker rectangle now appearing distinct and unique and separate from the other amorphous shapes in the artificial twilight, now disappearing into the depths of the inky blackness with its brethren shades, caught and held my attention. I know not what thoughts passed through my mind, but soon found myself shambling, one foot then the other, toward that mysterious aperture.

I remember climbing on the marble ledge, ornate and sculpted, so that I could stand beneath that odd unnatural window. This memory sticks with me because in my dazed climb, my shoe slipped off my foot and silently fell to the stone so many feet below me. My mind fell with my shoe, tumbling end over end, watching the tomes and volumes fly upwards past me until with a sudden, sharp, impact, my functions returned to me.

And that is when I found myself on the roof of the library, watching the cars and pedestrians pass by briskly in the cold Autumn air. No horizontal door. No dark ladder in a recessed alcove at the top of poorly lit stairs. No believable adventure did I have, but rather the illusions of the mad, the insane... the sleeping.

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