Cursed Inspiration

by Hazel Pound

There’s a knock at the door, but Jane leaves it for Tom to answer. She’s grown sick and tired of crazed fans invading her privacy – it had been one of the reasons she’d secluded herself in the first place.

Light flashes down outside and is followed five seconds later by the rumble of thunder. She’s distracted momentarily as she queries why someone would be venturing out at this time – she would’ve imagined even the most committed of fans would balk at the insistent rain – but turns quickly back to her writings.

The lightning has ruined her mood, its darker influence worming its way into the lighter scene she had been hoping to complete that day. Making a note to complete the page at a later time, she pulls it from the typewriter and feeds in a new page.

The softness of the heart is rivalled by no other charm.

Hearing the creak of the door, Jane calls down the hallway, Tom? Who was it?’

‘Only but your most devoted of fans, my dear.’ He replies, echoing her earlier thoughts. ‘I believe they were wondering as to the fate of one of your characters.’

‘They ask of Charlotte, I suppose?’ Jane says, partly to herself. She had also been wondering what became of the girl, for she had never quite figured it out. Page after page had been torn from her typewriter in frustration as the words came out wrong again and again and again.

‘Yes, I believe that was it.’ Tom replies. ‘I tried to tell them to go away, but they were very insistent.’

‘Did they not leave?’ Jane exclaims.

‘Refused to, I’m afraid.’ Tom said and Jane again hears a knock at the door.

‘Oh Tom, it feels like everyday I am cornered in my own home!’ She glances over at her typewriter and the half-filled page jutting from the platen. ‘Can I not be left in peace?’

Tom has no answer for her, only touches her shoulder lightly in support.

‘Will you make them leave? I need only to finish a few more pages today – the fans are already clamouring at my door as is!’

Making no objection, Tom retreats from the study. Her flow now halted, she switches out the page with a new blank sheet.

The surest step in falling in love, is an affection for dance.

‘So she’s a writer,’ Sergeant Cooper says, observant as ever.

Constable Sands has come to this conclusion as well, for pages upon pages of old fashioned typewriter script litter the hallways, covering nearly every visible surface on the floor. In addition to the mountains of paper, she is also able to make out a strange amount of Jane Austen novels.

The pair had been called to the house by the elderly Sally Perkins, the delegate for the area’s Neighbourhood Watch organisation and very concerned about the wellbeing of her reclusive neighbour. After several absences from her apparently beloved book club and numerous accounts of people not being able to contact her, they’d had quite enough evidence to knock down the door to get inside.

She reaches down to pick up a paper, but only catches the name ‘Emma’ at the top of the page, before a tweedy voice rings out.

‘Tom?’ The voice calls, smooth as nails on a chalkboard. ‘Who is it?’

‘Tom?’ Constable Sands mouths, searching around the room for a potential second resident.

The constable shakes his head. ‘I don’t think we’re going to be able to see him, Sands.’

He doesn’t receive an answer, but five seconds later the same tweedy voice can be heard emanating from the back of the house. They walk towards it, careful not to contribute to the mess.

Suddenly, they find themselves standing across from Marianne Catherine Spooling, the plump woman in her library ID photo reduced now to skin and bone.

Her eyes glaze right past them, but Constable Sands still flinches when she starts to speak. ‘Oh Tom,’ she moans, ‘everyday I am cornered in my own home!’

The Sergeant bends down to scan some of the discarded papers. He hands one of them to Sands with a slight smile, though his eyes don’t quite match. ‘Not quite what you remember from high school, is it?’

‘Can I not be left in peace?’ The woman again moans.

Constable Sands reads slowly, the pieces clicking into place as she does.

‘Will you make them leave?’ Marianne’s hands shake as she clutches them to her chest, breathing hard. The Sergeant’s hand is on her shoulder in what seems to be a fruitless effort to comfort her. ‘I only need to finish a few more pages – the fans are already clamouring at my door as is!’

’You do that Jane,’ the Sergeant says, but Marianne does not look as if she’s heard.

Lost in her own world, Marianna switches out the page from her typewriter and slides in a new one, oblivious to her audience as she types with practiced ease.

Sergeant Cooper sighs as he retreats back into the hallway to radio their findings, but the younger Constable stands still, her eyes fixed upon the blank page fluttering to the floor and then back up to the haunted woman typing furiously on a typewriter that has long since run out of ink.

‘What are you writing, Jane?’ She asks, not expecting an answer.

It is known all throughout the world that single and rich men are always in want of a wife.

Jane has been chosen for something great, she knows this. Why else would she be filled with this divine inspiration, this glorious purpose?

She is one of the best writers this world has ever seen. Her life is not her own – she belongs to the world, such is her impact.

‘What are you writing?’ The voices whisper.

It’s something beautiful, Jane already knows this. She’s written it before. But she will write it again and again and again until it is absolutely perfect.

The world is waiting for her.