Just thought this song was fitting
My pen danced frantically along the book’s pages, making a rhythmic scratching sound as I wrote with unbridled enthusiasm. It had been hours since I’d begun this futile effort, but I couldn’t stop now. My blood-engorged eyes had already succumbed to the eyestrain hours ago, but I still couldn’t stop. I had to continue no matter what.
“Great… the words are flowing well today… must keep going…” I thought to myself.
"But... no one in their right mind will actually read this story. Why are you so motivated to write it?" A stern, calm voice said from behind me.
She was right, you know. It’s not that the story itself lacks potential, but it’s just that I was never even a writer in the first place. No one in their right mind and in my situation would even continue with this fool’s errand, but still…
“It doesn’t matter. It was his dying wish.”
"That person was a stranger! You never even knew each other." She said emphatically.
"Still... he asked for my help... that's all that matters."
I paused for a moment and turned to face Kara.
"And so... even if no one else reads it, I will continue to write this story."
"I'm afraid I don't understand you."
And she had every right to say that, of course. After all, we’d only started seeing each other quite recently… and therefore, as much as we liked each other, there were things about me that she couldn’t have known and vice versa.
"Then... perhaps you will understand it better if I tell you my story."
She smiled sweetly and then pulled up a chair and sat down beside me.
“Ok, I’m listening.”
“You see, ever since I was a child. I've always had trouble relating to other people. I believe the doctors said I had this strange mental condition. Even though it did not affect my ability to function well in society, I could never really empathize with other individuals.
Do you know how it feels to never be able to connect with someone else? Even your own parents?"
That wasn’t really a question, and she knew that as well. Kara nodded twice, which was my signal to continue.
“I did... it was the only way I knew how to live.
And so, I grew up, got a good education and eventually became a schoolteacher. I had hoped that the nature of my chosen field would allow me to somehow make a connection with other individuals... even just once.
But of course, everything was for naught.
Try as I might, I could not find any meaning in human interaction.
To my students, I was probably nothing more than a slightly aloof professor, but to me, they were nothing more than annoying sacks of meat that I had to tolerate so I could receive my next paycheck.
One night, as I was walking home, I saw a group of thugs assaulting an old man.
Naturally, I hid in the shadows to ensure my own safety.
As expected, I felt absolutely nothing as I saw the thugs take pleasure in beating the old man to within an inch of his life. Neither pity nor guilt, nor even a sense of helplessness… which I’m sure anyone else might have felt.
I just stayed back and waited for them to finish.
And then it happened. I had tried to avoid it, but the old man made eye contact with me.
Of course, at this point, the thugs were long-gone and I had nothing to fear. With his dying breath, he reached into his coat pocket and took out what appeared to be a notebook journal. Without thinking, I came closer to hear him out.
‘This is my life's work. Within these pages is written the greatest story in the world.’ Was his bold declaration.
‘Take it... it's yours now.’
And he was gone.
Of course, I had no reason to believe the old man's claims. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me and thus, I opened the book...
The pages were crisp and clean – almost brand new. But that wasn’t the most surprising thing… no, more than that, the pages were all blank. Absolutely nothing was written.
“What? Then I really don’t get it. I thought you said this stranger asked you to finish writing his story for him.”
Kara was understandably flabbergasted.
“And so... that's why I continue to write in this book despite not having any talent for crafting tales nor ever having written a story all my life."
I carefully capped my pen and put it aside. Closing the book, I once again turned to face Kara, and this time, I looked deep into her eyes as if I were searching for something.
They were emerald green – very beautiful, I’m sure a more talented wordsmith could find better adjectives to describe them, but this was all I could think of at that moment. At the same time, I felt moisture on my cheeks as I mentally recalled the feelings that overwhelmed me the moment I opened that book.
“As for the old man, I never knew him nor did I care to find out who he was. He might have been a frustrated author, a homeless individual, a drunkard or even just a deranged person for all I know. It doesn’t really matter…
What I write might be considered complete trash – no publisher in their right mind will even think twice about sending it through the shredder, and it certainly will not qualify to become the greatest story in the world, but even if no one else will read it, I will continue to write this story… because for once in my life, someone had given me a purpose.
When I first opened that book, at that moment, for the first time since I’d gained conscious thought, I was able to connect with another human being – one that I barely even knew.”
“But you’re wrong…” Kara reached out to me and took my hand firmly in hers.
“I will read it.”
Author’s Notes: This was originally an improvised script that I made on-the-fly while having a casual chat with a group of friends over IRC. The plot itself felt a bit raw, but I liked the idea of an apathetic individual making a special connection with someone, so I just went along with it. Naturally, I’ve edited the rough draft I initially made quite a bit, and for those of you who are familiar with my current obsession, you might notice some traces of Hayate no Gotoku’s doujinshi arc here and there. In any case, I hope you enjoyed this rather half-baked short story and I hope to see you again in future stories to come.