There was a gunpowder tension quivering in the air…
The words sat on the screen followed by a blinking cursor. It stared back at me as my fingers hovered over the keys. It wasn’t a bad start, but it felt wrong. Delete-delete-delete… My fingers extended in a miniature stretch, and then exploded into action.
He sat there leaning one shoulder on the wall, desperately tense from…
The cursor paused again. Damn. Still, not quite right. I raised my arms, reaching out to corners of my tiny attic room. I leaned my head back, gently rolling it around. Relax. Calm down. Get out of your head… forget the phone call, and just write.
Before my hands landed on the keyboard, I reached for my coffee cup. I took a sip, then a gulp, set the cup down, and closed my eyes tightly for a moment. Come on. What the hell is wrong with you?
I inhaled slowly, filling my entire chest with air. OK. Let’s try this again. Tap-tap-tap… I cleared the text and started anew.
It was impossible for him to hold the tense, flexed body forever, but that didn’t stop him from standing rigid in the slowly extending moment…
I released an audible “Blaaaahhhhh” as I removed my hands from the keys. No. No. No. I highlighted the line, and in a fell swoop sent it into oblivion. Colten, just write! My fingers returned poised in suspense like a drawn bow. The ideas and energy were there, but I was still stuck in the phone call. My lingering fingers twitched slightly—perhaps from the cold, the excess coffee, or even just the frustration. In a chaotic fervor, they hit the black keys…
My elbows planted themselves on either side of the computer. I held my face for a moment, knowing that I shouldn’t feel this way, knowing that I should be grateful or thankful, knowing nothing. Damn. Delete-delete-delete… I leaned back in my chair, and my hands found the keyboard again:
God. What the shit is going on?!
This time, I punctuated the line not with a pause but with my hands hitting the desk. In a single fluid movement—I stood, slammed the laptop shut, grabbed a sweater, and left my room for a short walk.
“So, we don’t know?” I asked.
“Well, it seems that the tests returned normal. Pretty well everything we’d want.”
“Ok. Good.” I paused before continuing, “But, then what caused the episodes?”
“Well, we can’t be sure. It could have been that you had vertigo which caused migraines—that’s not totally uncommon. Or, atypical migraines could have caused the syncope. That might explain the dizziness and weakness. Uncommon, but not out of the realm of possibility. Then again, it could have been some sort of virus. Whatever it was, it seems likely it’s done.”
“Huh… So, I’m cleared? I’m good?”
“Yeah. You are clear and good to go.”
“Yeah. Just—just be careful, and let us know if anything reappears—if any of the symptoms return.”
“Oh… So, they might return?”
“Well, Mr. Biro, we hope they won’t, but we don’t know.”
All clear, I thought. Yet, even with a resolution, I felt shorted. So, what was it? What had stopped me from running for months? What had stopped me from traveling internationally this summer? What had forced me to wear a heart monitor for a month? After all that—all I have are more questions.
When I returned from the short walk to my quiet room, I found myself struck by the words left on the screen.
The phone call earlier that morning had interrupted my day, but I continued my normal routine fueled by a feverish desire to continue onward. I took a shower, had a cup of coffee, and sat down to daily writing.
All the while, the anxiety bubbled below the surface: Be thankful it wasn’t anything serious. Be angry you don’t have answers. Why am I being so ungrateful? Why am I still worrying? Why am I furious? Why? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop it from boiling over into the day or accidentally spilling into my writing.
As I sat staring at that the line on the screen, I felt comically guilty. It wasn’t that I had included God and an explicative in the same line, but rather, the sheer obvious humor of it all. How could I pretend this didn’t matter? How could I forget to pause with this, if only for a moment? How could I not bring this to prayer?
The sentence stared from the document, laughing at me. It wasn’t pretty, but it echoed the conflict raging within me. I was trying to bury my feelings and frustrations within fiction, yet this line felt like the truest thing I had ever written.
If I’m honest with myself, it’s probably my most sincere prayer.