I wrote to today's story a day (dot) org prompt: Obsession and passion
Heidi Durrow(Guest prompt) – Passions
The Prompt The Energy of Passions & Obsessions
You become what you think about all day long.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Passions and obsessions are great starting points for stories. So what if a character has a passion or obsession but the character has extreme difficulty fulfilling that dream. For example, a character could have an extreme passion with exotic birdwatching, but he can’t fulfill his greatest wish because he is a poor child living in a big city. What does the character do to fulfill his obsession? What happens to the character when he can’t? What does the fulfillment of the obsession or passion mean to the character?
Heidi Durrow is the New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books) which won the PEN/Bellwether Prize. She is the founder of the Mixed Remixed Festival, an annual film & book festival in Los Angeles.
Five more pages to scan. I could see the librarian frowning in my direction after she pointedly looked at the clock on the wall above her for the third time. I felt the pressure of time and fidgeted impatiently as the ancient photocopier flipped out another page. I looked at the microfiche film cabinet one last time. I would be back to get the rest. This information had taken me too long to track down but I wasn’t sure I could stay another day to get it all.
I had almost tripped three times on the frayed carpet in the hallway coming back up the dark stairwell. The muffled thud of the music downstairs was beginning to give me a headache. The whole place stank of stale beer and sweat poorly dampened by vile lemon disinfectant giving the whole place the aroma of a urinal.
I spread the papers over the worn chenille bedspread and put it in order.
I looked down at the bulging case I carried everywhere and took stock. I now knew more about his heritage and life than he could possibly know. I knew which ship his ancestors had arrived on, who had been born, who died, where they were buried and why his surname was so uncommon. This folder contained everything his brothers lives contained, this one was his parents, this one his medical records and this one - I pulled that one out and flipped it open on the floor. Glossy photographs fell on the carpet; wedding photos of a beautiful bride smiling up into his face. The sunlight shining brightly on their glossy hair catching the diamantes in her veil sending sparkles around their heads. A copy of the wedding certificate. Photos on their honeymoon. I knew everything that could be known about her too. I slid the photos back in the file and the file back in its place in the case.
I would have to be back at work in two days. I was cutting it fine. If I lost this job I would not be able to afford the next step. I feel my shoulders lift in a shrug. It doesn’t matter. I will find a way. I roll my shoulders back and try to ease the tension. I needed sleep but doubted I would get any in this dingy noisy ill smelling place. The mattress sagged over protesting bedsprings. I put my head on the lumpy pillow and watched the rain pelt in yellow ripples against the glass. I thought about him. I thought about nothing else.
He was my reason for breathing. He invaded my every waking thought and haunted my dreams. I yearned for him like I yearned for oxygen, as instinctive as my heart beat as automatic as muscle memory. No one else could take his place, no one else could compare. He was mine, I was his and yet here I am and he was there with her.
What is wrong with me? I am in a dingy hotel in an outer reaches hick town printing off archaic documents from an outdated system and I suddenly wondered how infatuation had become obsession. When had lust fallen over the crevasse into surreptitious stalking? I was tired, broke, alone and drifting. Outside my beaten up wreck of a car contained all that was left of my life, one suitcase, one box of papers on someone else’s life, empty fast food packets and the crumpled receipts from cheap hotels.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but I don’t even have that to keep me warm, just my dull obsession dragging me from one place to the next chronicling the life of a man who was so unremarkable he barely made a blip on the internet, a man so unassuming as to never appear in a newspaper, a man so ordinary he was hardly worth all these endless hours of what? My obsession. My willing sacrifice of all other life because when he was gone I had no life. The very thing that animated me was him. Without him I am nothing so I drag myself to the case and open up the folders and vicariously live.
Tomorrow I will print his obituary. 706
the story turned out a little darker than I expected but I like it.
RhyPiBoMo Golden Quill Competition winners were announced today