by Noa Mendoza (’16)
The microwave buzzes and Rory wipes a piece of lint off of his ironic Christmas sweater. He rests his head briefly against the crumbling cabinet wood, and then lifts his fist to punch the microwave door several times before it squeaks open with an exhausted groan. He stirs the steaming Raman noodles with a plastic spoon, pulling a tattered napkin out of his skinny jeans and tossing it to the floor. It’s Some Girl’s number from the party, probably the one with the ironically-not-a-sweater sweater that dipped to her belly button piercing. The one who couldn’t spell “ironic” unless it was the name of another drink to shout toward the bartender.
“It’s i-tonic,” he mutters to himself, then rolls his eyes and places the noodles on the floor. He has not yet found the means to buy furniture, and refuses to ask his parents for money. He has not spoken to his family in seven months in an attempt to convince himself that he is very successful and independent and absolutely swamped with writing and inspirational, adventurous friends with intelligence and worldliness soaked in every sentence they speak.
“God, I should never try to pun. Why can’t I be goddamn witty? Is that really too much to ask for? Just give me something.” He grabs the noodles again, spilling a trail of salty water behind him as he kicks his shoes to the opposite corner of the tiny flat, then sinks into the lumpy mattress in the corner. He pulls his grandfather’s typewriter out of its case—an official, polished, dark green machine that looks most suited for an office building in the 1930’s, as opposed to a roach infested flat in Brooklyn.
The woman pursed her cherry lips. “This ain’t no business for a boy.” He grinned at her, his crooked smile—
“God no. That’s terrible.” He groans angrily and pulls the paper out of the typewriter, tossing it into the middle of the flat.
“Okay, right, Rory, you have one job. You were published in the New Yorker once—you can do this. You have to. Right, write. Write, write, writer, write.” He takes a bite of the Raman noodles and then places a fresh piece of paper into the typewriter.
The first clack of the key sounds as the phone begins to ring. Rory glances up in relief, tripping over his tattered shoes in his haste to get to the landline.
“Mom,” he reaches toward the phone, and then thinks otherwise, snapping his hand back. He looks away as the shrill call of the telephone echoes through the flat, bouncing off of the old mattress, the rotting wood cabinet, the impatient silver of the typewriter’s keys.
“Loneliness is the key to creativity,” he murmurs uncertainty. “Maybe—no. I have to write. I’ve never had any choice. I have to be a writer.”
The last ring of the phone dies as he loops back toward the typewriter, sinking back into the mattress with a loud squeak. His fingers rest lightly on the keys, desperately attempting to create some sort of believable voice on the page. He glances up again, and is met by the stale silence of an empty apartment. He begins to type.