It had been a while since Laurie’s last short story. But getting back to work by starting from scratch was not easy. The journey of a story is trickiest. You draw a destination and a starting point on a map and then you begin to sketch out your trip to your destination.
In fact, once you’ve had a long break from writing, you’ll feel anxious about planning out that inner journey again. They say talents don’t go; instead they get buried in the basement. She also realised that her confidence to write fiction had disappeared almost completely. Whom does she write for other than herself?
Stephen King calls that person the “Ideal Reader”. Laurie knew where her I.R. had disappeared to and therefore she started packing her bags to go to Lübeck.

As she knocked on I.R.’s door, she heard him say “Come in.”
The door squeaked. She smelt freedom, tranquillity and solitude in the hotel room, but also some tension.
“Hello” she murmured.
I.R. was sitting by his desk, scribbling something onto paper. He still looked beautiful as ever, but the sense loneliness floating in that room made him appear distant.
“I knew you’d come back crawling one day” he said.
“I am not crawling.”
“You would, though.”
She smiled. She knew that despite her honesty toward the entire world, he was the only one to ever hear everything from her.
Awkward silence hung in the air, making the room grow even bigger than it already appeared to be.
“You know things haven’t been easy for me” she sobbed.
“Neither for me. You needed some space, so I granted you that.”
He carried on scribbling words down. She noticed a pile of paper next to him on the desk.
“What are those?”
I.R. looked at her and smiled for the first time since her arrival.
“Well” he began, “these are ideas still locked up in the back of your head.”
“Locked up?”
“Yeah, with me inside.”
The moment she approached him, he stopped writing after a nervous flinch. It felt there was a shield between them, separating two delicate worlds that weren’t meant to fuse with each other.
“Don’t” he said.
“How can I open the door?” I asked.
“You can’t.”
There were traces of fear and desperation spread on his face, guided by an encouraging smile.
“Only I can open it”, he said quietly.
He turned back to his writing, as though she wasn’t there. She was still standing there in despair, unable to approach him, unable to put her hand on his shoulder.
She remembered they first met when they were eleven and used to be inseparable since. Now was the first time ever that she felt that the connection had been cut off. It was a matter of trust; trust leading towards confidence, will and plenty of hard work. Consolidated teamwork would rebuild that broken connection.
“You’ve just read what King wrote. Sort out your tool box now and get started.”
Now her heart began to fill with hope.
“So you’re still my muse?”
He gestured at the pile of paper on his desk and started to laugh, as though saying “What a ridiculous question!”
“Well” he said, “first revitalize your language, sort out your grammar and work on your style. They are appalling. Your recent stories are good, but they need a hell of a lot of polishing and you know it. I can’t open the door for you if you don’t start putting your shoulder to the wheel.”
There was a long pause between them again. Though, this time the silence had dissolved the tension.
“Will you forgive me?” she asked.
He laughed. “You are writing this now. You’re gonna make me forgive you anyway! Have I got a choice? But honestly…” he paused and then looked at her in earnest. “Don’t you know me at all?”



by Paula Deckard 2010

(in dedication to Stephen King’s On Writing)

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