Ghostwriter

An ink-stained manuscript materialises before her.

Through the mist, she sees him.

Crouched, pen-poised a man is waiting, frozen in time.

His pen rises, falls, sweeps down but doesn’t touch the paper.

He sighs. She sees two hands rise towards her.

“Nothing. Still nothing.” He throws his pen down on the desk.

She leans towards him and whispers : still unseen.

“Write,” she says.

He leaps from his desk, his chair falls back. She glides to safety.

“My muse!” he exclaims. ”You have arrived at last.”

She almost groans in his face.

She holds back a sigh.

“They always, always, call me that, “ she thinks.

“Still you have to go with it. He’ll find out in time.”

Desk reoccupied, she watches silently.

As if guided by a hidden hand, the pen dips and writes.

“Shiny, silver,” appears on the page.

“Shiny, silver what?” Her voice in his head. 

“A saucepan,” he whispers.

“Old or new?” She asks.

“Old,” he smiles, “Scratched and weatherworn actually.”

She sighs. “Perhaps if I turn down the temperature, the blood might start flowing headwards”, she thinks.

“Write that,” she says.

The pen dips and words appear.

“Clean or dirty?” she asks again.

“Cold and greasy,” he replies.  

She reaches her hands down to box his ears…invisibly.

“This makes no sense,” she says.

He nods his head. “Yes it does.”

“Write,” she says.

“She reached into the cupboard and retrieved a shiny, silver saucepan. She held it up and looked affectionately at its scratched and weatherworn lid. She reached inside and withdrew her hand. ‘Cold and greasy,’ she said to herself. A sweet and pungent aroma filled the air.”

He looks up expectantly.

She scowls but he paid no attention. “I could absolutely scream,” she thinks. She draws a silent breath…

“What’s the problem? Where’s the tension?” She asks insistently.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?”
“No, no, no, NO,” she says.

He half-rises from the chair. He looks around, eyes alight.

“Let me,” she whispers.

She reaches for the pen.

“I’m the writer, you’re the muse, I’m in the flow, leave me alone.”

His hand curls round the pen. Her hand covers his.

The pen twirls, twists and finally falls with a clatter on the desk.

She throws her hands up in despair. 

“Enough!”

The pen twitches again, stands tall and leans nib touching the paper.

“I’ll leave you now,” she writes. “But don’t expect me back. Ever.”

A flash of light fills the room. He wraps his arms around himself and shivers. Slowly his face contorts.

“She’s gone, My muse is gone.”
He lets out a shrill and piercing scream.

“Ghost writing was so much easier on the other side,” she says as she wafts away unseen.

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