Peeling Back the Unfolding Curtain

The Start of a Writer’s Day

I lay awake, feeling rested. My wife sleeping beside me, I allowed my mind to drift … recalling the places I’d been.

There was a thought somewhere – Ah … here.

A Greek theater, Yes … Dionysus … I’ve stood here 40 years earlier and now return.

I look at the seats filled with my readers. They are months and years out of sync with my experience.

There is a bubble, a force-field, between us. They look, but cannot really see the play. They have to use the completed novels and watch the stage through the pages yet to be finalized.

I leave the bedroom and return to my keyboard; the other characters file across the stage, taking their places, to stand nearby in cliques. The women on this project form a chorus.

“If it’s tension you wanted, you’ve created it!” begins one of them.

I laugh at her remark, knowing what’s coming, for I have heard it from others.

“Tyler! I hate him!”

“Don’t tell anyone,” I plead, “He’s fictional and exists only in your mind.”

There is a reprise form the chorus, “If its tension you wanted you’ve created it!”

“You are on a journey, but I am not allowed to tell you. Forgive me.”

One of my oldest friends steps forward, “This is the mystical experience – psychic awareness. Polish the first chapter. Maybe make Tyler more controlling. If he can show up anywhere you are, he has issues.”

Another voice from the chorus, “Too many ellipses and hyphens! They keep pulling me out of the story. I want to take a hammer to them!”

Together the chorus sings, “Confusion, fear mystery, conflict…”

Old Friend: asks, “Who is this Candice? I don’t know her.”

The chorus answers, “She’s a character representing several women. The latest is here.”

Candice steps forward through the parting women, “You can do whatever you want with me. This is fiction and I trust you.”

“You are safe,” I offer. “Your magic protected me that one summer day.”

“No. It helped you. You were protected because of who you are.”

The chorus encircles Candice, “He took the high moral ground.”

“No!” I shout. “Not me! It was Drew who took the high ground. I only stopped to see a friend.”

The ghost of Tyler steps forward, “I can’t read your work. It’s not me. I’m afraid to find out what you will decide to tell people.”

“I’m sorry, Nobel Friend. I’ve had to break your character to tell a story. If I could reveal the truth differently and not hurt you, I would.”

“You have told everyone I have an affair with Andrea!”

“You do, Tyler, and it was most beautiful to behold as it became apparent.”

Andrea’s ghost enters and moves across the stage to stand on his right, on the side of my desk opposite from Old Friend, “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I knew you would understand when you came to visit, but I was still afraid … unsure.”

I try to touch her hand, but pass through meeting no resistance. “You and Carol and Candice and Tyler have unlocked the author in me. I hope you are not disappointed.”

“I did nothing.”

“Neither did I, other than moving what we did into a place where we can share it with other souls.”

Candice stepped forward a second time to be heard. “You are the author. You visited me then Andrea. Nothing from the last two years would have followed, if you hadn’t started to write.”

Members of the chorus escort her back into their fold. “There is resistance and a struggle to awakening.”

Old Friend sets his coffee cup on the side of my desk, “It’s interesting that you see the astral as part of the dreaming. I just go there.

“The temple is real, so is The Lady, the guardian. There are mountains, but not as you describe them in that place that exists beyond the ‘physical’ reality.”

The first woman from the chorus steps forward, “I do enjoy the dream scene. I don’t trust Drew. I thought I could, but not now.”

Her companion moves next to her and takes her hand, leading her back to the female chorus, “He’s using the metric system. Dear, if you’re going to use ‘dream’ be consistent and try to say ‘dreamt’ it sounds international that way.”

First Woman, looks at the chorus, “I wait for clarity.”

Before the chorus settles, First Woman turns to take her place asking, “Who was Hisa? I mean you drop her in at the end of a chapter and then what? Nothing!

“She’s a walk-on character,” I explain – wondering if I’ve used these last two hyphens correctly and why the word processor didn’t make the second an em dash. “She shows us the world Drew inhabits is everywhere, a little out of sync with the everyday world.”

My readers’ attention is drawn from the novel, shifting in their seats trying to peer into the bubble.

The cold stone stage is affecting me. I haven’t put my shoes on. It’s almost noon in Athens and the middle of autumn. I shiver, it is almost as cool here as it is in Ohio today.

“This is not magic,” begins Old Friend. “Everyone needs to know that. The main thing is we cannot ‘fix’ other people. They must fix themselves.”

“Shhh.” I urge him.

Ignoring me he presses in, “The right people will be around. We can listen and help them help themselves. We have the present remembering of past lives. These can overlap.”

“Tyler is driving me nuts!” screams First Woman. “Perhaps this is what you intended.”

Her friend gasps, “… I forgot, in chapter 3 on page 36 … You called it ‘Crystal’ and capitalized it. I looked and think you should just call it ‘crystal meth,” but don’t hyphenate it. Your wife uses hyphens inconsistently when she corrects your writing.”

“I’m not sure it’s all her. I sometimes delete her hyphens because when I went to school it was different.”

The Professor storms onto the stage, “You have a nice story, but it’s sanguine. If you want people outside of your family to read it you need grit!

“And look at everyone! They’re all WASPS! Tyler and Andrea are from New York! Make Tyler either Italian, or Irish, then people will understand why he’s the way he is! Those old families and first generation are real characters.

“You spent time in New York didn’t you?”

She nods and looks to the assembly, wanting to mingle, but unsure where to stand.

“Stephan used to wear a leather Indian costume,” suggests Old Friend distracting me from introducing The Professor to her peers.

Forgetting the others, I am pulled to that memory, “Yes, yes … I had forgotten,” and smile. “I wish I could have put that into one of the Nexus scenes. I’m too far along now and it’s not worth it.” I looked at the audience, “They already have their pictures of him.”

“And Tyler,” First Woman reminds me. “I don’t think he’s a stalker, but I see him dressed like one.”

“What does a stalker look like?” I ask.

“Knit hat … muscles … trim, but creepy – Oh, and he wears dark sunglasses.”

Tyler’s ghost stirs.

“I want you to hold that thought, First Woman, and tell me what you think of him as you keep reading and again at the end. It’s important I understand your impressions at each stage.

“I don’t want to break your illusion right now, you’re doing so well with it, but Tyler is looking at me. You can’t see him the way I can. As a special favor to me, just hold the thought somewhere that he’s no different than you.

“You know that though—”

“Yes,” she admitted. “I am Tyler. And thank you for using that em dash. I love them.”

“Would you put that in your survey? It would be ever so helpful.”


Locking my laptop to prepare for breakfast, I watch the cast members exit.

Old Friend asks a final question, “Did you tell them about the crystal knife?”


 Jeffrey A. Limpert


 Image Information:
By: jes5199 Alec Hidell


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