by Ruth C Morgan
An empty well.
The voices were back.
The silence I’d adjusted to was gone.
There was hesitation in the voice as the speaker considered his words, ‘What’s it going to be then?’
I opened my eyes.
Was there someone in the garden outside? Was the sound carried on the breeze blowing through the open window?
A gentle peel of laughter, and a question - ‘You don’t understand?’
I felt my lips move. ‘Going to be?’ I asked.
‘Poor thing, she doesn’t realise,’ said another voice, conversational.
‘Has she forgotten?’ another voice crisp English accent, male.
I shook my head as though the movement would stop the voices.
It wasn’t a dream. My eyes were open. I’d grabbed a nap on the sofa. The library was the quietest place in the house, a retreat, its silence a welcome contrast to the animated world in my mind. Now this space too was filled with an audience, voices, and questions.
More work, more words waited in the pile of editing on my desk. But I had nothing left to give; the well of my imagination was empty. The excitement of a new story still, inspiration spent - the blank page waiting on the desk terrifying. What if the ideas were gone? Forever? I felt tears fill my eyes.
‘That won’t help.’ Male voice, blunt.
I wanted to put my hands over my ears, tell them to stop.
‘Desperate situations require desperate measures,’ the voice stated.
My head was starting to spin. The symphony of sound was too much. I wanted to curl up on the sofa, close my eyes, and when I reopened them, the world would be normal. Warm air would continue to drift in bringing with it the scent of gardenias. The voices would be stilled. There would be peace.
‘Get up!’ the voice sharp, an order not to be disobeyed.
I wanted to fight back, tell them to go, explain that their unending demands were the reason for my exhaustion, that I needed time to refill the well of my imagination.
Slowly I sat up and put my feet on the polished floorboards.
‘A start,’ said the voice, challenging. The authoritarian tones firmly pushed gentler sounds into the background.
‘I can’t do this,’ I whispered. ‘I have nothing left. You’ve taken everything, and you still want more?’
For the first time, there was tenderness in the room. The gentle breeze delivered the fresh scents of the garden in a caress, touching my cheek. Warm fingers stroked my hand; a sturdy arm wrapped itself around my shoulders. ‘You can do this. Look around you, see the evidence with your own eyes.’
The room had changed. It was no longer lined with books, but with people. No longer words, but stories. The hand took mine, and led me to my desk.
‘We will help,’ he said sitting alongside. ‘Without you we are only images, sounds, and vague musings.’
A growing chorus of murmurings rose to a spine tingling crescendo, which peaked, then faded.
‘Are you ready?’ asked the voice.
‘Yes, I am.’ I picked up the pen.