“Midnight” Inspired by Paris

She pressed a few more words on the typewriter angrily, trying to get the thoughts out of her head. After staring at the page for what felt like hours, she tugged the sheet from the machine and tossed it on the ground. Countless revisions… and not a finished product in sight.

The cigarettes didn’t help, the brandy didn’t help. The incessant neighbor noise didn’t help. Her lack of sleep didn’t help.

It was well into the night and she was no further along than she was the evening before. She stood up, stretched, and went to the phonograph to put a record on. After playing the first, second, and third track, she was still looking at a blank page, waiting for the words to flow like a river out of her.

She lit another cigarette and typed a few words out. Then a few more.

“This is no use,” she said to no one in particular except maybe her cat that wasn’t anywhere to be found anyway.

Skimming her desk, she saw the letter again. The letter with the deadline staring her right in the face. The damned deadline of the first draft. She threw that on the floor too.

With a spark of interest, she suddenly stood up and rushed for her coat. She left her flat and the cold night air chilled her bones. The night was cold, wet, and beautiful. Rather than wait for a cab, she strolled briskly through the rain to her destination. It wasn’t that far anyway.

She stumbled into the warm bar and looked around frantically. In her haste, she never removed her coat, but instead walked with intent to the back where he was sitting in a booth.

“Ernest!” She yelled. “I’m stumped.”

He turned, surprised to see her at this hour, and in soaked clothes.”Well! This doesn’t look like progress.”

“It’s not..”

“Have a seat.” She did. He gestured to the waiter to bring her a drink. “So, what’s stopping you.”

“I don’t know what’s supposed to happen next.”

“Then stop writing.”

“But my deadline-”

“Then write something true.”

“Something true? That could be anything! I just can’t seem to find the right words. I needed to get outside, the walls were suffocating me.”

“Go walk in the rain.”

“I did that to get here. Still stumped.”

Her drink came and Ernest handed it to her. “Drink that. And then four more.”

“You’re no help.”

He looked her dead in the eyes. “You think I haven’t been where you are right now? Of course I have. You’ve got to get out and live a little. Run in the rain, get drunk, stare out the windows at the Paris rooftops. Go love something, go hate something. Go feel. Get something on that paper, something true and something good. You can always edit tomorrow. But tonight is for the art.”

She put her head in her hands and let his words rush over her. In the pause, she drank most of her drink. She looked everywhere but at him.

Then, “You really think I’ll be any good?”

He laughed and smiled at her, “Not better than me, but it’s a start. Go.”

She rolled her eyes as she got up to leave. He called after her.

“Hey! Something good. You’re in Paris after all.”

She took the long way home, stopping to stand on the bridges along the Seine, paying no mind to the rain. Once home, she typed and crafted and wrote until the sun came up.