It seems the planets have again changed their paths and are messing up my horizons. It could be the weather that has me so off kilter. The days are really hot, but evenings come fast and dawns are lazy in rising; I am trapped on a glassy ocean in the Ancient Mariner's Rime :"The sun's rim dips, the stars rush out/ at one stride comes the dark!" The tickle in the back of my throat confirms the changing year. Last weekend when I happened to look up in the sky, the silent, rolling constellations veritably glared down at me and I hastily lowered my gaze, caught staring.
It is the season of long stories for the long nights, and it seems my stories are not immune to this tendency of stretching out.
I have been working on a set of stories for a few months and I am happy with none of them. The one that I thought was easier to work with refuses to end. I'd started it as a prospective submission for a short story of about three to four pages (the standard 2000 words), but this one is over ten pages and like the endless night, it sits jealously.
But I am loathe to give it up since working on it somehow comforts me. It seems to have taken up the vigilant post of my never-ending quilt.
The story is a first person perspective and I feel already immersed in the persona. The topography of my character's garden is more recognizable than my living room, and I find myself resenting having to clear up the laundry and sort away the dishwasher. My character's face feels more mine than the scowling brows and down turned mouth staring back at me from my mirror. I admire her tenacity, her strength of will, her ability to keep her head in midst of unimaginable circumstances, and I come up short, with my anxieties, panic, and frustrations over the trivial realities I can't seem to get a handle on, that are protean at best. My character has another great advantage over me: everyone knows her story and how it ends. I have so many alternate futures and horrifying prospects that seem as viable as any other possibility I can imagine. Somehow, these things make her more alive, more believable than I. I seem to be a faded out, insubstantial shadow of my character, and often wish she'd take over my life completely as she seems so much more able to handle all that is demanded of her with aplomb and dignity.
If she weren't so admirable, I'd envy her! But truthfully, I don't. I wish she could, in fact, step out and help me bear the fardels my particular flesh seems heir to. And I shall miss her when my story is done; re-reading the same story (knowing it has been finished once) is not the same. It feels false and essentially wrong, even narcissistic, like trying to seek the magic of a first love in subsequent affairs.
So here is my plan. I shall not let this story end until the holidays (mine and everyone else's) are over. When the year finally falls, I shall wrap myself up in my story and let it heal and warm my and inner core that the boring, eroding demands of my waking self regularly devour and corrupt.