Two Pencils and a Matchbox.
He put down the pencil for what seemed the 50th time that evening. Another sheet of paper wasted. He picked up the matchbox, and lit another match. The sheet folded in on itself as the slow flames of orange and yellow licked its edges. It made for a rather pretty sight, the silhouette of the paper going up in smoke. He crumpled the remains into the ash ridden bin overflowing by his table. A long drawn-out sigh emptied out into the room.
He had had a bad week, to say the least. The landlady downstairs had been threatening to kick him out if the greens didn’t come in by the bundle into her purse. His contractor was on the verge of signing someone in his place. The autumn wind messing up his papers didn’t help. He was going to have to sit this one out, come up with something real good, and quick. The alternative- well, he didn’t have an alternative.
Jeremy Prince was a creator of sorts. He preferred a faint aura of mystery around his profession; it made sure people didn’t stereotype him. This way, he reasoned, they wouldn’t write him off. He felt he made worlds of nothing. Even the first of his letters on paper were enough to kindle the interest of even the most scornful of people. He imagined it all in his head; it all came together so delightfully. When he was at his best, it all happened so naturally, pictures flowed into words and vice versa. The ease with which he wielded his wooden weapon tamed even the most insane of ideas; there was nothing he couldn’t put down on paper. The problem was, he was a far cry away from his best. It had been the same for a week now. Not an idea, not a thought, nothing so much as creative as a caterpillar with a negative IQ. Just what he was going to do he didn’t know.
He decided to take a stroll. No point doing nothing cooped up in his apartment, he figured. Perhaps if he stretched his legs and gave his mind a break, he would come up with something half decent. He picked up his keys from the basket and shut the door behind him. He followed his feet; the same path he had walked for the past seven days trying to think of something. The wind ruffled up his hair, he drew his jacket closer around him. The same old pavement, the same old buildings, the same old streets. Comforting as the familiarity might have been, he wanted something new. Something had to change. He walked a long while. He hummed a nameless tune while his footsteps echoed in the emptied streets. The bridges over the rivers had perhaps a chance of redemption, providing some solace to his overburdened self. He let his mind wander; making full use of the freedom his picturesque location gave him. He stayed, watched the sun setting, the magenta rays reflected off the water in all directions.
He slowly made his way back; the moon shone lightly. The same old streets, the same old buildings, the same old pavement, yet somehow, something was different this time. He pushed in the door of his usual store. “Well, same old, Jeremy?”, asked the store keeper patiently. Jeremy smiled. “Leave out the matchbox this time. I have an idea.”
He walked back upstairs, ignoring the frantic shouts of the landlady. He opened the door, took off his jacket, and dropped himself on the chair. He picked up the closest sheet of paper, and took out one of the two new pencils he had bought. He looked out the window for a minute, smiled, and wrote… “Two pencils and a Matchbox.”
- Tanmay Shankar