I finished writing my novel sitting on a barstool at LaGuardia, with two empty Heinekens and a shot of Jack in front of me. The morning sun was still weak and hazy and so was I.

My laptop was dead, the power cord lost at O’Hare many days ago, and I refused to fork over $60 for a new one. ($40 on shots, though, sure.) So the last two chapters were an appalling mosh of long-hand scribble, with lines and dots and arrows making futile attempts to clarify one obscure point or another.

This book had chewed its way out of me.

Oh, I’d tried to stop it. I’d fed it lithium, drowned it in scotch, smothered it in thick layers of self-doubt.

I buried it — and it sank its roots deep and sprang up again. I cried, and raged, and bargained, through every stage of grief. But we all get to acceptance sooner or later, and finally I slit open my wrists, and let the words out.

Bitter, pus-filled words. Who would ever love them?

People pay me to make up stories — lies — about those ugly things inside them. I’m always so careful. Those soft places inside a person are not to be toyed with. At least not by someone like me, who has so many soft, rotten places of my own.

I was boarding my flight to SeaTac when the buzzing started — more words waking up at the base of my skull. Tiny little hatchlings now, but not for long. Soon they’d be biting and snarling and clamoring to break free. Slashing their swollen bellies open on the edges of my brain.

Tequila might buy me a little time.

Or maybe this plane will crash, and I can finally sleep.

Categories: Flash Fiction