Night Owl

Did that punctuation belong there? It didn’t look right. And that word, surely that made absolutely no sense to have it in the phrase she did? Or did it? More likely she was overthinking it, after all she had been at it for well over five hours.

With an agonising groan Laura grated her worn desk chair backward across the floor, attempting to put some sort of distance between her and the document she had been plucking away at for what had grown to seem to be an eternity. Days crawling along into weeks, those weeks seeming to mesh together into a blur of time. Supposedly six months had passed writing and editing this damned piece. Laura couldn’t work out if it felt more like she had lived several lifetimes, or if it had all passed by in mere blink of an eye.

As she scanned her eyes back over the document, she picked out six glaring mistakes. Repeated sentences, words used incorrectly, sentences that crept out for far too long, and others so short they may as well have been a single letter. Rubbing a wearied hand over her face, across eyes she knew would be beset by deep, dark bags, Laura pulled herself back in towards the desk. Now she was locked in for yet another hour, she knew that.

Her head slouched onto a hand propped by her elbow, eyes skipping across the page as they sought for the next piece of inspiration. It was always that next little piece, that slight touch that got the ball rolling once more, cascading into a flow of ideas, words spilling straight from her mind onto the glaring white screen, sentences forming as quickly as-

Nothing. Laura could feel her left-hand hovering over the keyboard, waiting for instruction. None would come though. She knew it. Hell, the page even probably knew it. That smug bastard. Just sitting there, taunting her with that gap of emptiness sitting at its bottom, a white void that appeared to have lost its words to a stark white blizzard. It probably had even been toying with her, creating the mistakes when she had not been paying attention. Removing whole sentences, switching the positions of words, creating typos where there had once been none. It was messing with her!

Giving another long sigh, Laura cupped a lazy hand over her mouth, throwing a sidelong glance to the clock propped in the corner atop a cheap bedside table, dimly lit by the lamp sat directly opposite. 1am. No wonder she was losing the plot.

Maybe just another half an hour? She had work in the morning after all, and all the coffee in the world couldn’t save her from the sleep debt she had been amassing for so long. She was surprised she’d even managed to stretch herself on for as long as she had. Her boss however would be less than impressed if she turned up fatigued beyond belief, again. Not that the customers cared, they rarely paid the barista of a café little more attention than that cheap op-shop painting that had been slapped on the wall to make the store appear more ‘cultured’.

No, no excuses. She should call it a night from here, she still had to afford this hovel somehow, and losing a job over lack of sleep wasn’t worth the risk. With a slow hand, Laura dragged the mouse across the screen, venturing towards the off switch. It, however, hesitated in between. More specifically, hovering over the playlist she had running quietly in the background.

Perhaps, just one more song for a few more words? Surely that couldn’t hurt? Of course, more words were always a good thing, surely?

Decided, she opened her Spotify and began to leaf through the songs. Next, next, next, next. Nothing. None of them drew her. No more inspiration came than what little she had before. She had near given up when the song shifted to a soft note. Long, sustained, a single string echoing within a long, solemn hall. Her finger quivered over the skip button, but she couldn’t bring herself to click.

The strings, the slow build, the thundering timpani rising in the background, each hammer strike booming to her heart’s beat. The tempo rose, and Laura swore she could feel her blood rising with it, heat rushing to her chest, her cheeks flushing brightly. The crescendo climbed ever higher, higher, higher, before crashing down, the orchestra a swirl of bellowing noise. Horns flared, cellos cried, voices roared and ever louder the music blared!

Without her even knowing, Laura’s hands swept across the keyboard. Before long, words flowed onto the empty white space, ideas spilling freely. She saw no errors, no incorrect punctuation, not a single word out of place. The fatigue felt as though it had been brushed aside. She had no need for it, fatigue could wait. She had a tale to tell.

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