This story is by Maria Carmela Montesano and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Her hand forcibly dug the chisel deeper on the wooden table as the phrase, words are eternal, were etched.
“Stop this fixation about being an author again, Mary. You have already chosen it in your last lifetime.”
“Not fair Athios! The counsel of elders must realize that I am a soul and I’m entitled to experience boundless possibilities.”
“How soon you forget. You conceived a child out of wedlock with a married man. The affair caused a calamity. Your lover’s wife committed suicide. We must find souls to agree and participate in playing these characters. Reincarnation does have boundaries. As your spirit guide, I forbid it!”
The metal waste basket by David’s desk overflowed with paper. He became stressed with each sip he took from the cup of hot coffee. Each time he wrote, he’d crumple up yet another sheet. Frustrated he paused and decided to take a different approach for his writer’s block dilemma.
David walked beside his favorite willow tree which provided shelter from the sun’s sweat inducing heat. His eyes were closed and began to meditate. His muse would find him this way. He grew antsy as the time passed.
“Don’t budge it takes me time.”
“Who said that?”
David looked around, but there was nobody there.
He heard the voice once again.
“Who the hell are you? Why can’t I see you?”
“My name’s Mary. I am using telepathy.”
“That doesn’t matter. I’m a soul and I think you’re seeking a muse.”
“This is crazy! I must be dreaming or going out of my mind.”
“Neither. You’re a writer where is your writing journal?”
The entire situation was absurd, but he decided to run with it anyway.”
“Give me a second, I have to take it out of my satchel.”
“You are going to start writing. You may even think that these words are coming from your thoughts. However, they are mine. I used to be a writer. My spirit guides have told me that I can’t enter another human body if I choose to be an author again. If I can’t write stories, I don’t want to go back. I’ve decided I want to be boundless and free. A human body has many limitations as you’re aware.”
“But how is talking to me going to help you achieve your goal?”
“There’s a technique in the spirit world referred to as automatic writing. Basically, what it is, is an entity talks in your head. Then your hand begins to write. Many writers believe it was their idea. It was we spirits.”
“What did you write when you were in physical form?”
“We’re not allowed to share too much about previous lives. I will only mention that I wrote about a famous monster.”
“What do you want me to write?”
“This time, I want to be the character and do what I want to do. If I choose to have tea in England I can. If I want to be a villain I can too. There are no boundaries to what I can do.”
“What do I get out of it, Mary?”
“You get to never have writer’s block. You get to publish works that people will think is your imagination.”
“The character is the artist. They train the author to shape what they want to experience in the story.”
“If I’m going to write for us Mary, I’d like to learn more about you.”
“I will answer your questions the best way I can.”
“What makes you want to be so free? Why do you feel bounded in the first place?”
“The last time I was alive, my actions hurt people. My solace were my stories. A fictional life is like child’s play. You can pretend all of it, and nobody will be hurt. Including myself of course.”
“Who or what hurt you?”
“The expectations of society. Choices I made had consequences. You might call it karma. I experienced the deaths of my children and husband.”
David began to ask more intense questions for the author he was channeling. His intention was to find out her identity.”
“Mary, if you were given carte blanche, what would you choose? Whether it is in a story or another life? Aside from writing of course.”
“I’d choose for my choices to not have consequences.”
“What about your readers?”
“What about them?”
“Haven’t you thought that even though you’re a character in a fictional story, they won’t feel what you are feeling or doing?”
He patiently waited for her answer, but after a few minutes, he realized that Mary faded out.
That evening he wrote down all the details of her life. Who was she? He was intrigued by her. He began to question if it had happened, or if it was just a figment of his own imagination. Whether or not, he decided to write. Each day he would routinely make a date with a force that was waiting for him to write down the words. This time he finished an entire novel that he titled, ‘The Muse’.
The character in his novel was called Mary. Throughout the story, she was able to visit Paris, travel in time, drive a car, and have endless experiences. The day arrived when he received a copy of his new hard cover book by mail. He excitedly tore the brown packaging and tossed it onto the floor. He admired the book’s glossy cover page.
“Well done David. It was quite an accomplishment for the both of us.”
“What do you mean the both of us? Mary is that you?”
“Correct. I wrote a great book and I was free to do as I pleased.”
“Wait a second, I wrote the book. Not you.”
“I wrote it through you, you were like my stenographer. However, it doesn’t really matter, David, you still get the credit. The time when I wrote my masterpiece, I thought it was my own work. Now I know better, it was a spirit that I channeled.”
“Which author were you Mary?”
He heard a giggle and there was silence. David scratched his head and shrugged it off. He went back into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. The doorbell rang and he peeked through the peephole. It was his elderly next-door neighbor Mrs. Shelley.
“Hello Mrs. Shelley, can I help you?”
“Hello David, it seems as though the mail courier guy mixed up the address on this package. He delivered it to my door instead of yours.”
“Thanks so much! It’s another copy of my new novel.”
“Well you wouldn’t want to lose that. Have a wonderful day.”
He took the box into the kitchen and grabbed a cup of coffee. He sat down and opened the box. He laughed out loud when he read the title of the book, Frankenstein.