The Writing Schedule of Brianna Hildenborrow
8:01: buy first cup of coffee. Tip the barista 20% because you’re not an animal. Don’t think about bank account. Don’t think about bank account. Burn your tongue on expensive latte. Open laptop.
8:05: Open word document. Stare at it. Remember those nice earrings online that looked like shark heads.
Google: shark head earrings.
Consider bank account again.
Google: how to sell nudes online for money when you’re ugly??
Close laptop. Open notebook.
8:25: doodle in margins of notebook. Consider becoming an artist. Consider learning how to clown. Consider nails very deeply. Stare out window.
8:35: fuck, fuck, curse at yourself for not having written anything today. Open laptop again.
Google: how to write
Google: how to write well
Google: selling your used underwear online for money when you’re ugly??
Google: learning to code and make money.
Google: are computer schematics like robot porn for robots?
Google: how to write when you don’t want to
8:45 stare out window again. Put down two sentences. Feel proud.
9:01: get second cup of coffee #treatyoself, #selfcare, #coffeelife
9:02: tip the barista 20% again. Regret general life decisions after burning tongue again.
9:05: stare at what you’ve written:
There is no destiny but the one you create.
No one will love you until you learn to love yourself.
Baby, don’t hurt me. (Don’t hurt me… No mo’).
Bri stared at the page and considered breaking it. Eating it. Stuffing into that section of the ocean where horrors and the devil coexist and stranding it there.
She groaned and planted her face on the table with a thump. It smelled like cleaning fluid and the sorrows of coffees spilled and dead before her. Was it so much to ask to tear people’s hearts out like a toy in an arcade claw machine and smash it into a thousand pieces with her words alone? Was that too much to ask?
She turned back to the page and started typing again:
I have always been a misfiring engine in a race for the Stanley Cup. I have always been a spill at the supermarket. I have always been a fallen tree in the forest, waiting to make a sound.
Bri turned to face the table again and see if she could discover anything new on its surface. Like the secrets to the universe. A new stain shaped like Jesus Christ that she could sell to the Church. Her father’s love. Some other fourth impossible thing.
She pressed her cheek there to the cool surface and glanced around the shop for inspiration. It was a cramped bitter-smelling place with cute chairs that had arched wooden backs. There was the woman behind the counter with blue streaks in her hair, gauges, and several hundred bracelets on her wrists. That particular barista who could be found vaping in front of the building on her breaks.
There were two old men in a heated conversation about the works of Kafka a table over. A woman and her kid were having some sort of mommy-child date (was that a thing?) near the front of the shop. And a couple other people were on their laptops at the counter. Probably writing masterpieces. Probably confessing their love to the vaping barista in the form of a heartbreaking doomed-to-fail letter.
Or they were probably answering emails and hating their lives.
The back of the shop was one long curving counter with two houseplants on it and the front of the shop was dominated by two huge windows that were slightly tinted beige with age. Bri was perched by these windows watching the sky drizzle. The street outside had narrow cracked sidewalks that afforded room for weeds to pop up along. Weeds and grasses and convenient locations for your bike to be stolen in.
There was an ice-cream shop across the way, a laundry mat, and a queer clothing shop that sold overpriced button-ups and whatever vest screamed “gay” without having to be less than 15 dollars.
It was raining. But rain in Portland was about as expected as handshakes at a job interview or a job interview opening up at the local shitty GAP every few weeks. The rain came down in a fuzzy static haze: painting the air with it and working its way into wooden buildings and soft fabrics and anything that could rot.
“Rot,” Bri muttered to herself and her brow folded in, “rot?” She hummed. “Rot…”
She wrote the single word down.
She was looking out the window when she saw her-- when there was something to see at all. It was 9:30 in the morning and Bri squinted at a passing figure. She had brilliant red hair tied up in a ponytail that bounced as she moved. She wore a neat gray hoodie and running pants with bright red shoes that looked fresh from the store.
The look on her face was that of a wall. Or perhaps the stuff inside walls that were even more cut off from everything else. It was blank and serious and concentrating on some unseen thing that apparently deserved to die or be run over.
She had a long nose and heavy brow and determined little mouth that wanted the unseen thing to die more than anything else. She jogged slowly across the window view and then was gone again.
“The running girl,” Bri frowned at the figure and squinted off into the distance. She probably lived in the area considering Bri saw her most mornings.
Bri turned back to her laptop and started typing:
I am made of things like Peanut Brittle that get stuck in your teeth and are only sweet for those who can endure the hard edges.
She smiled at the page, “Oh yeah…” She looked back out the window, but it was empty again.
An idea started to form in the back of her head.