Every writer as a block, but each needs a push in the right direction.
Far too many times she stumbled up the stairs and dropped everything in her arms, scattering papers and books everywhere along the tiled steps over the past few months. Today was no different. Everyday she kept to herself, picking up the pages and the books as she barely saw the rubber of shoes step around her as if she is the plague that everyone is so worried about.
Days had turned harder for her. The feeling of guilt and shame resting on her shoulders. She stopped attending classes making her fail nearly all of them.
She shoved her papers and her books back in her arms and bag, stepping to the landing of the stairs, hitting the door button with her hip and waited. She never let her mind wonder, when she did, she found a black cloud over her head for months. Her mind never allows the smallest bit of sunshine in her thoughts. A small bit of hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Barely aware of her surroundings, a young male walked over to her, tapping her shoulder. “Did you drop this?” He asked, his gray eyes meeting her own.
“I--” She glanced down at the book in his hands.
A leather bound black book, colored sticky notes poking from each end. The book itself looked like it had gone through hell and back. Water damage, stains and tears. He held it out for her to take.
“No, that’s not mine.” She said, shaking her head.
“What is your name again? You’re that girl that hides in the back of the classroom all the time, right? Ella?”
“Alina.” She corrected, chewing the inside of her lip.
“I think you left it in class a few weeks ago. No one knows what this is and it was in your spot.”
Alina couldn’t understand why he was pressing to her about this random book. But she couldn’t deny that the pages called to her like Harry Potter had when he spoke to a snake. The constant whispers passing between this object and her mind.
“Oh, I must have forgotten it.” She offered a tight smile, taking the book from him and set it on top of her pile of madness in her arms.
Touching the leather sent a spark down her spine, jolting her up. When she looked up, the male no longer stood next to her, but others were looking at her with strange looks as if she were glowing.
Alina shook off her thoughts, walking into the building and headed down to her class.
She was lucky. The class was watching a movie which allowed her to catch up on some of her homework. Bouncing her leg; trying to focus on her past assignments, she couldn’t help but glance at the book atop her things. It’s pages tempting her, whispering words she couldn’t make out. The room around her faded into darkness; only her and the book remained. Opening the leather cover, she scanned the various notes around the cover pages. Tips, mostly. Tips on how to use the book to the best advantage if she were to use it in such a way.
Alina flipped through the book, her eyes searching for a reason why this book was placed in her life. The notes were in her handwriting. She remembered nothing of this book, only from today when that male handed it over to her, claiming it was hers. She let out a shaky breath, flipping through the lined pages. None of this could be real. These words, this writing had nothing to do with her.
The classroom lights sparked on, sending blinding light to her eyes, forcing her back to the room with the handful of classmates waking up from their naps.
Alina gathered her things, writing a mental note regarding the next assignment before she darted from the classroom and into the muted hall.
Depression hid her hard on days like this. Even with the arm sun down her back, nothing seemed to break the dark clouds around her mind or the words echoing in her skull; words of doubt and fear and loneliness. Alina almost dropped out a handful of times from being so far behind, but each semester, she pulled through getting good grades. But this semester would be different. She just knew it would be.
Days had passed and the notebook was shoved deep in her backpack. Alina could still hear the faint whispers as she worked at her desk, typing up an article. She had written her entire life for as long as she could remember, but words seemed to fail her as she backspaced to the top of the page. Words failed her all the time. Never sounding correct as she types on the keyboard.
Threading her fingers in her hair, bouncing her leg seemed to calm her down, but the whispers lured her over to her backpack. She pulled the notebook from the bag, thumbing to a random page. Write what you know and stick with it. The hardest thing to do is write with purpose.
Alina looked back at her white laptop screen, chewing on her bottom lip as she thought. For years, she was told that no one would listen to her if all she wrote was depressing or something about her past that she wanted off her chest; no one would read it. No one would want to hear about the struggles of someone like her; poor, living alone, single, mental illness.
Alina set down the book next to her, keeping it open to that page and started typing.
Once she finished, she scanned the words, watching the blinking mouse from the corner of her eye as if mocking her with the time she barely had.
Alina moved the mouse to the submit button and found herself hesitating. Her heart was in her throat and anxiety made her palms sweat; sticking to the mouse. She closed her eyes, pressing on the button of the house, lowering the laptop screen so she wouldn’t see that it was sent over to her boss.
She pulled herself to her feet, pacing in her small room as anxiety raced through her system. Her throat was dry and her eyes wouldn’t focus on a single thing around her; darting from place to place. She squatted down in the middle of her room, hiding her face in her hands as she focused her breathing. She wrote what she knew and didn’t hesitate to fill the word count, even overfilled it. Alina stayed where she was for a long moment until she heard a ding from her email.
Panic turned her ears red as she returned to her computer chair and read the email.
Tears filled her eyes as she read over the words from her boss. Caring, tentative, and warm. Something Alina had gone so long without. Her article would be moved to the main page and her writing would go unnoticed in print.
From that moment forward, Alina held herself a little higher each day, seeing the sky open from the storm that loomed over her. A real smile was on her face, almost feeling foreign, but good. She smiled up at the people she passed on the street, turning into the office.
Her boss stood in the entryway, holding a small envelope in her hands, meeting Alina’s eyes. “You did amazing work, Alina. Here is the royalty check.” She said, holding out the envelope.
She opened the tap and nearly sank to her knees, her heart stopping in her chest. “You can’t be serious.” She breathed, disbelief crossing her face.
Her boss smiled with a small shrug. “We’ve sold more with your article than we have in a long time, Alina. You deserve it.”
“But twenty thousand?” Alina asked.
“Every single penny.” Her boss chuckled. “Keep up the good work, Alina. I’m expecting a lot from you.” She promised, walking back to her office.
The office was watching Alina before they jumped in cheers, some racing over to Alina, and lifting her up in the air as they praised her work. Alina laughed, hugging each of them close, but her mind drifted back to the notebook sitting on her desk. Hadn’t she found that page, she wouldn’t be here standing in a room, celebrating her work. She owed this moment to the male and the small black book for putting her on the right path once more.