Frost crawls upon the window. Flecks of orange light trickle through the icy sheets.
I link my hands around my mug of tea for the third time and sigh. I sit in the conservatory, wrapped in my dressing gown, frowning. Behind me, the first glimmer of dawn peeks over the neighbour’s fence and lands upon my computer screen.
As 8am hits, I down the last of my lukewarm tea and close my eyes. The page isn’t real, I know. Yet its white, digital emptiness covers the words I am searching for in a blanket of doubt. I have typed, deleted, typed, deleted; an hour’s work, but nothing to show for it.
I close the laptop lid. I open my eyes, lean back, stare at the ceiling. I tap my nails on the rim of my mug. Another cup of tea? No. If I go to the kitchen now, I’ll convince myself to stay there. The shadow of the ceiling fan expands, shrinks, as the plastic blades spin. I follow it with my eyes. Mum must have left it on last night. It’s been turning all this time. Spinning, steadily, through the darkened hours. No one to see.
I shake my head, give my cheek a slap. Focus! I need to try something else. Setting the mug down on the table I rise, tighten my dressing gown belt, and leave the conservatory.
Birds drop into my garden. Sparrows. Pigeons. They chatter and rummage through the grass, pecking for insects. Spider webs, heavy with dew and melting snow, gleam silver as the sun finally rises above the horizon.
There’s a crack in the window frost.
The birds scatter as I return, notebook in hand, and sit down at the table. The crease of the paper brings me comfort. On each page, the scrawls of my past self remain. Arrows indicating where paragraphs should move, notes in the margins, red lines through every mistake. Nothing of much value is written in this book. Seeds of ideas, mistakes, stories that I have later lifted, re-shaped, and reorganized onto my hard drive. Yet, as I turn each page, I feel affection for these untamed thoughts. I recognize their right to be wrong.
At last, I come to a blank page. Placing my hand upon the paper, I take a moment to think of a beginning. Not the beginning, of course. Just one false start out of many. the pressure of my fingers allows me to see through the paper. I scan over my handwriting, reminiscing about the world of my last story, admiring the imprint of the bones now given flesh on my laptop. I see the crossings out. I remember the flaws.
Blankness gives way to possibility. I put pen to paper, writing the first thing that comes to me. I cross it out, start again. Evolution at work.
The birds return. They sit on the fence, bathing in the morning sun. Upon the window, the frost loses grip. It cracks. It melts. Until, at last, it is gone.