Marley’s Ghost


I’ve been away but now I’m back!  Here’s a new story…

I need to write.

I feel the urge rising, a force upon my whole being.

I never had writer block. Always the words came, fluent, rushing.

It is not too late! And I am looking for space, blank, clear; anywhere. I am surrounded by the debris of my life: an idea across the edges of the cereal box, a line water scrabbling over rocks – hands grasping for… creeps over a soiled napkin, more scattered about. There is no space!

And I am on the step-ladders, marker pen in hand, gripped tight. Letters stumble from the solid black tip, bursting onto the wall. I have no concepts of time of day or necessities for food, water or bodily functions – I write.

Hours passed.

The wall is coloured in patterns of letters, columns and boxes; circled and squared off so characters and concepts remain connected. Lines and arrows reach to join isolated sentences. It could be art! An installation in a gallery – inside the writer’s mind… I smile. But work must MUST continue. There is too little time and I feel the dark ebbing closer.

I wake suddenly as if from a deep, deep dream. I grasp at the recorder on the chair’s arm but the images fade too quickly to be caught. Once – I would never lose that game. I am tired.

The TV is on. My constant friend, my informant, my only lover. I blink at it and we understand each other. I raise unsteadily and seek sustenance; my arms feel too heavy, disconnected.

I look curiously at my left hand. It is gripped like a claw. I remember the wall. Frantic writing, hours and hours. My hand is cramped and my elbow is bent. The pain burns as I try to move my arm/hand. I relent. In the kitchen I find a tea-towel and make a sling. It pleases me, I never broke a limb, never went to a hospital. My worn writer’s arm rests against my chest like a baby and I look upon it fondly. We shared greatness, once upon a time.

I think of my books and have an urgent desire to see them.

My bedroom is the library I could never afford to build. Agents promised wealth: millionaire was the word. It wasn’t. My books are unsold, rejected.

I look at the dusted boxes, I cannot bear to touch them and I close the door again with blurred eyes.

My friend soothes me: old songs play over footage of the moon-base and the cosmos I dreamed of but never reached.

My head feels light. There is a moment of panic; where did everything go? I slip to another place…

“So what do you have for us Kalhi?”

I hear the question and strain to hear the answer as my eyes slowly focus on the screen. It’s an old, old show. Again my companion brings me comfort with familiar history.

“It’s a book” says a scrappy girl. She looks nervous, tired and she grips the edges of her item tightly. I see the hope in her. She wants good news, she needs it. There is a darkness around her – a troubled past. She glances at me (the camera) and looks directly at me…

“… not worth very much. Yet interesting and maybe there is a collector but” the Expert shook his head. The camera switched from the girl’s face to the item, the book. The page displayed was an inscription. My heart jolted and griped. My left hand suddenly released and I reach forward – too late.

The page fills the screen:

The Jellyfish Who Travelled to the Moon and changed Everything


                                                           JC Marley


 [in fading scrawl beneath]

                                                        To Khali – never stop dreaming JCM


~ ~ ~


“It was banned in many States” the Expert droned on. “Only the Moon-bases took it on but it was an ironic joke.” He smiled as if only he knew what that joke was. The girl frowned. “Marley was always odd, off the wall! Too much dark material for books aimed at young adults. And he sadly died, alone, poor, some decades ago. Still!” he concluded brightly, “it’s a wonderful thing to have. And how did you get it dear?”

The camera panned back to her face, wide brown eyes stared back and she swallowed down her shyness and said softly: “He gave it to me. He changed everything.”

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