I sat looking at the screen.
The thin black line blinked back at my unmoving eyes, winking on and off like a metronome, teasing me into a deceptive peaceful state. My mind wandered as the bluish light reflected off my face in the darkness. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the gray skin of my face reflected in the window of my room. The surreal image of my body floating in the dark glass gave me a light, giddy, feeling.
The first word was down. The cigarette in the ashtray next to the keyboard was burned halfway down, the ashes snaking out like shed skin, smoke curling up into the air. The first word. They always say that’s the hardest thing to do - get that first word down. My shaky hand went out and wrapped around the bottle of beer next to the ashtray.
My finger slid over the cool glass, dry fingers soaking up the droplets of condensation weeping out of the bottle. The thick liquid washed bitters across my tongue, warming my stomach as it settled in.
No, the first word wasn’t the hardest thing to do. It was the admission of the first word. The symbolic meaning of it. By putting it down, it stared back at me, mockingly. It was the truth. Not what I had fooled myself into believing - what I had recounted as the truth time and time again when asked about what happened.
I could take it back.
The thought of it hung in my mind, a neon sign flashing as if its connection to electricity was precarious, to be lost at any moment. Taking a drag off the cigarette, my finger hovered above the ‘Backspace’ key.
Taking it back now wouldn’t matter. It had already be spoken, put down. My mind had admitted the truth. Or at least had committed to the telling of that truth. Regardless, it would continue to sit out there, knowing, haunting. It begged for me to see it through, if only for my own mental well being.
I pulled my finger from above the ‘Backspace’ key and nervously tapped at the tabletop. My cat, Jerry, took that as a signal that he should get some attention and purred his way around my legs. Not getting any response, he leapt vertically to the desk and sat squarely in front of me, his black tail swishing back and forth over the keyboard, his big green eyes blocking my view of the monitor.
The name of the town I had grown up in. Or at least the town I had spent my high school years. Those formative years that are claimed to be so important. I could blame it all on that. Or at least, that would be a convenient starting point. To explain, to help understand the bigger picture.
Jerry stretched lazily in front of me, making his way to my lap. Curling up, his purring helped distract me. I took another drag and continued to type.