Sam walked around his kitchen, searching aimlessly for inspiration to write a blog post that he spent too much time deliberating upon.
After opening his fridge door, only to find expired broccoli and leftovers from the local Mexican restaurant, Sam stumbled over to the counter to grab his phone.
“Fuck this,” he said in frustration, holding his thumb on the home key and then unlocking an encyclopedia of contacts.
A few seconds later, he found the number for Jeff, one of his best friends.
“Just do it. Call him,” he remembered his roommate telling him the other week, a time when Sam was too afraid to face the potential consequences, a theme that had been a constant throughout his adult life.
Frustrated and confused, Sam re-locked his phone and then moved over to the couch, rolling around on his side while contemplating the effects of his apathy.
“What are you doing?” his roommate asked, walking into the room and seeing Sam splayed out on the couch in his dangly and fractured state.
“I’m pouting,” Sam giggled, a small snicker emitting from his mouth, even though what he said wasn’t funny.
Sam had a tendency to do that, to laugh when things weren’t funny, to smile when he should have turned his grin upside down.
“Why are you pouting?” the roommate asked Sam.
“I’m lacking in creative energy,” he admitted.
It was as if creative energy for Sam was vitamin D for others, a supplement that made his days brighter.
“What I should do is just start writing and letting whatever comes out be put into circulation, but I can’t,” Sam continued.
“Why not?” asked the concerned roommate.
“It’s hard to explain,” Sam replied, not because he didn’t want to talk about it, but because extracting the true depth of his emotional state wasn’t possible at that moment.
“It’s hard to explain if you don’t tell me.”
“But there’s nothing to tell you,” Sam assured his roommate.
“I’m not sure I believe that.”
“You don’t have to believe me. The universe will still reward me for being honest.”
The roommate sighed and left Sam to his self-induced misery.
“I’m going to my friend’s house,” the roommate said, then grabbed a set of keys off the kitchen table and exited.
Once the door was closed, Sam let out a sigh of relief and turned on his video game console. There was a certain peace he had always found by turning on a PS4 and getting worked up over a virtual reality.
Midway through the online session, Sam’s phone dinged.
“Do you think I’m pretty?” read a text message from an estranged bird.
Sam grabbed his phone, looked at the message, then cocked his head to the ceiling.
He couldn’t understand why birds always needed validation, and when they did, why they peppered him with indirect sentiments that he was too impatient to respond to.
“I don’t know how to respond to this,” Sam told the bird on the other end.
“Uh, never mind,” the bird wrote back.
Sam knew he should have responded and said something that would have eliminated the bird’s disarray. Maybe it was emotional incompetence, or perhaps he tired of playing games life seemingly always forced him to play. Regardless of his ultimate feelings on the subject, he still proceeded to toss his phone into the safe comforts of a nearby sofa cushion.
“I promise I’m not that crazy,” Sam whispered to himself.
The hopeless romantic part of him wanted the bird to know his true feelings, yet the pragmatic version of Sam didn’t want to burden her with his troubles.
Everyone has problems, Sam assured himself, deciding to ignore his internal strife and continue jamming his thumbs into the joysticks of the PS4’s controller.
Just then, Sam’s phone started ringing. It wasn’t a text, and when he ran over and picked up his phone, he noticed it wasn’t a telemarketer either.
Of all the people he needed to talk to, it was Jeff, his dearly-missed friend with whom he had been yearning to speak with.
The phone continued to ring, yet Sam did not answer. Unconscious paralysis overwhelmed his motor skills. He wanted to answer, but his finger would not make the action necessary to connect the call.
A brief moment later, the call went to voicemail. Sam worried that he had missed his moment. The inspiration and peace he had sought for so long had potentially passed him by.
Five minutes later, and still no voicemail was left.
Sam would have to call Jeff back, assuming he could pull himself to reject the negativity rushing into his head.
He walked over to the freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen fruit, which consisted of an assortment of blueberries and one raspberry that was attached to an unsuspecting strawberry.
That nagging blog post kept ruminating in Sam’s brain. He knew he had to write it, to set free into the ether a piece of work that he may or may not have felt good about.
And so is the struggle of creative types everywhere who never think anything is good enough, even though they know once it’s finally over and they let the universe determine the fate of the art, then a feeling of accomplishment will set in.
Sam plopped a blob of Cool Whip onto the frozen fruit that was lying helplessly in a white bowl and then sauntered back to the couch.
There was his phone, still sitting on the couch, looking lonely, as if the only way to eradicate its sadness would be to pick it up and maximize its full capabilities.
Sam looked at the cracked paint on the wall, then back at his phone, then back at the frozen fruit that slowly began to melt. Without worrying about the results, he picked up the phone and dialed Jeff.
It had been ages since they spoke, let alone commiserated.
“I’ve been expecting your call,” Jeff said when he answered. “I just got done reading one of your blog posts.”
“Which one?” Sam asked.
“I think you were reviewing shoe brands or something like that.”
“Jeff, I don’t write about shoes, bruh.”
“Maybe I was reading something else.”
“Anyway, what have you been up to, Sam? Do you still need to make $3 million before you can have kids?” Jeff laughed, recounting one of the stranger sentiments he had ever heard Sam tell him.
“I’ve actually brought that number down to $2 million,” Sam half-joked with his pal.
It was hard for Sam to reconcile the fact that he had the gift of writing, but also that his gift wasn’t bestowed upon him in order to achieve fame and become wealthy.
Instead, prose was his way of coping with all the unfortunate things that life threw at him. Whether it was a getting pricked in the finger by the tricky gas pump at the local BP, or a nasty spiral of self-hatred, the only way he ever escaped these fits of sadness were through sitting down and letting the universe funnel creative thoughts into his brain.
“Do you remember how angry you used to get whenever we played baseball in your backyard growing up?” Jeff asked after a few more minutes of small talk.
“Don’t remind me,” Sam begged, not wanting his past to be brought into the conversation. “I was a different person back then, someone who was wildly immature.”
“Is that meant to suggest you’re now mature?” Jeff asked.
Sam took a moment to think.
“Not necessarily. I’m just less immature than I was.”
“Well, that’s progress.”
“Yes, it is,” Sam said, and then soon hung up the phone, the creative rejuvenation he desired from this repartee falling short of his at times lofty expectations.
After hanging up the phone, Sam moved to a different section of the couch, then stared blankly at the TV. During his chat with Jeff, the bird had sent Sam another text, this one more direct and critical of Sam’s perceived shortcomings as a potential mate.
“You’re just vetting me,” Sam wrote to the bird.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re trying to assess if I’m someone you can marry.”
“I didn’t say that,” the bird answered, attempting to keep alive the obvious yet unacknowledged plausible deniability cast over their relationship.
“Have a good night. I’m going to bed,” Sam sent, then left his phone alone on the couch and meandered toward his bedroom.
He could hear the faint dinging of his phone once his head hit the pillow, but he didn’t have the temerity to maneuver his way back to the living room.
The streetlights outside his window became more apparent as the night quickly aged.
In the morning, Sam knew he would find himself inundated with at least three messages from the bird, each one a call for him to take action. Knowing Sam, he wouldn’t respond to the messages until after lunch, by which point he would be over any emotional trauma that resulted from this day’s events.
Sam rolled on his back and looked up at the dark ceiling above, then smiled; not because he was happy or had everything figured out, but because he knew that tomorrow was a chance to start over, even if the past followed him.
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