The Inspiration

This was the short story written and published as a Facebook Note on September 11, 2009.


Every writer I know has a notebook of some kind. I’m a bit of a geek and wanted to make my notebooks mean something and be symbolic of something greater. When I bought mine I did what a lot of aspiring writers do and bought the “classic” Moleskine notebook. 240 lined pages, 5 x 8 and 1/4 inches with an expandable inner pocket.

“The legendary notebook of Hemingway, Picasso and Chatwin.” or so says the ads.

Its distinctive black cover and elastic band to hold it closed is easily spotted from across the room. If you see a guy carrying one of these into a coffee shop anywhere you know you’ve found, at the minimum, a wanna be writer. Who else would buy one?

That, of course, is not the point of this.

So, I’m coming home tonight from Burbank on the train to Anaheim and I notice that a couple of weeks ago while in class a couple of pages must have stuck together as I was flipping pages taking notes. That meant I had two blank pages between some very dense note taking in a screenwriting class.

Ok, so I don’t want to waste .83% of the very expensive notebook, so I started to jot down some shaky notes (I was after all on a moving train) about a story idea.

It’s a story about Bob. Bob is like a a lot of us. He went to college and met an incredible girl named Jill. Jill was pre-med, Bob was pre-law. After college Bob started working on his career as a legal clerk, hoping to one day be a lawyer. Bob worked very hard at his new job.

One day Bob woke up and discovered that it seemed just like yesterday he had started his career, but was now two years into it and Jill, the girl of his dreams was the one that got away. She had dropped out of med school due to lack of funds and drifted off. Bob struggled with this. His career went nowhere. He never became a great lawyer. He became bitter and was kind of a dick. He lived alone.

Sometime after Bob turned 40 he was out jogging in his neighborhood, for his health, and was struck by a bus.

When Bob approached the Pearly Gates, he wasn’t greeted by St. Peter. A woman, one of the Fates, greeted him. She held a book. Bob’s “book of life.” It was the Fate’s job to write the outline of Bob’s life in the book; where he would be on such and such day, what major things would happen in it. This meant that while some of Bob’s life was determined before his birth, it was mostly Bob’s free will that would determine what happened on a moment by moment basis. It was, after all, just an outline. You can’t expect the Fates to write every detail of every person’s life! There just isn’t the time. These books are all intertwined and the stories are so confusing as it is.

As it turned out, somewhere in Bob’s book, pages 25 and 26 to be specific, the pages had stuck together and when the Fate wrote in the book, she had skipped them. As it turned out, those pages that stuck together were the years just after college. When he had woken up and thought the years had flown by they actually had! He’d just skipped right past them.

Now, of course, Bob might not have been a great lawyer, but he knew a thing or two about product liability lawsuits. He also knew that if word of this got out, the Fate would probably get in trouble so he made a deal with her. Bob could go back to fill in the missing section and the Fate would transcribe it so it all made sense in the larger context of the book.

Some sort of magic was performed and Bob was sent back to the living and back to the time and place at the end of page 24 of his book.

Bob knew what he had to do. First and foremost he had to get to Jill and put in some quality time. He needed to not make the same mistakes he had made as a young man. Work hard. Become a success.

Bob and Jill went out on dates. They talked about the future; a home, children, their life in old age and how much Bob didn’t like jogging.

One night, while Bob was sleeping, the Fate visited Bob in his dreams. The Fate had been watching what was going on and was dutifully noting each twist and turn in Bob and Jill’s relationship, but was growing concerned. She was concerned that while page 25 was going along at a great pace, she didn’t know how Bob’s page 26 was ever going to make sense with pages 27 and beyond.

You see, most of Bob’s book had already been written. There was simply no way to change that. Whatever is at the top page 27 is just going to continue on from bottom of page 26. Bob can’t marry Jill. He can’t become a success. That part is done. Finished and unchangeable.

Bob appeals to the Fate. He’s been cheated. No. Actually, they had an agreement. This is the way is was to be and there was noting that could be done about it. The choice now becomes Bob’s to make; does he live out page 26 the way he wants to and crush Jill and leave her as a widowed mother when he suddenly disappears from her life at the top of page 27 or does he resign himself to the facts of his life and try to somehow make hers better?

Bob sees the only thing to do is to sacrifice his last year to make her life better. His will, from this point forward, be an unrequited love and only from afar. He breaks up with her. He pours every dime he has into investments, in her name. He is somewhat relieved to know he’ll have a job at the top of page 27 so he can’t be fired, so he begins to slack off. He secretly arranges dates for Jill with men he has screened.

On the night before he goes to sleep to wake up on page 27, he writes a note to Jill seals it in an envelope and mails it. Bob then goes to sleep.

Bob wakes up in the ether and the Fate is there to greet him. As it turns out, there was another mistake found in his book. Well, not HIS book, but one of the other books that was intertwined with it. On the day the bus hits Bob, he’s somehow saved at the hospital by Dr. Jill.

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Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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