My Private Island

I have a small office with shuttered windows. It’s dimly lit by the light that filters through the wooden slats. The sun bounces over a messy stack of papers smudged with ink. The desk is small and made of darkly polished wood. A simple padded wooden chair is set up behind it. There’s a paper shredder tucked beside the desk; it is quickly making long ribbons of my mistakes.

There’s a dusty filing cabinet against the wall, three levels high: one drawer of false starts, one drawer of discarded story ideas, one drawer of future story ideas. There’s a low bookshelf, above which is a cork board. Snippets of text and photos are pinned into the surface. The barely legible handwriting makes it looks more like a murder investigation than a space for free form, brainstorming.

It smells like a library, with the smell of glue bindings and paper. I think I left a fruit in the waste basket too long, and the air carries a whiff of orange peels.

Beside the largest window there’s a chair, covered in cracked taupe leather. Sometimes my muse comes in to check that I’m working, and brings me cheese sandwiches when I inevitably forget to eat. Mostly he leaves me alone. Sometimes he throws open the windows for some air.

Outside the windows is a crescent of white sand beach. You couldn’t guess that with the shutters closed. When I’m working, I don’t often think about it. White sand, so bright it almost hurts the eyes to look, and around are green trees. I need the water and the greeness, like a plant needs sunlight. It draws a breath from my lips, and I am happy here.

But the spell breaks, and I get up from my usual writing spot. The reality of my cramped apartment doesn’t matter to me. I barely notice that my desk is a breakfast tray table, or that my chair is the floor, with my dresser drawers for a backrest.

I already want to go back. I could really use a cheese sandwich.


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