The Blank Page
by Ivy Li
Tap, tap, tap. Darcy was making her pencil thump against her desk in a steady beat. Tap, tap, tap. The house was silent except for the faint hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen and the whispers of birdsong that drifted through the window. The tapping quickened as Darcy’s desperation grew. The noise drilled into her, and filled her hopelessly empty mind. Her head felt like a black hole; it sucked away everything until there was only a gaping void left. She stared down at the blank page in front of her, and sighed.
It was no good. No amount of frustrated pencil tapping or solemn pondering seemed to be helping. Darcy had absolutely no idea what she was going to write. She was determined to enter the writing competition, but it wasn’t as simple as she had thought. Hunched over the piece of paper, she started twirling the pencil between her fingers and inspected the sharp, lead point. If only she had a flash of inspiration!
She had been sitting at her desk the whole day. She peered dismally out the window. The sun had sunk out of view and its last rays had been cast, golden red, into the street. Darcy stared at the sky and watched as it slowly turned deep blue, then pitch black. Then she realised she could no longer see outside, but was merely staring back at her own reflected self. She frowned slightly, then turned to focus back on the paper. Subconsciously, she started rapping her pencil against the wooden desk again. Tap, tap, tap.
It was Sunday night and the next day Darcy would be going to school. With an unpleasant jolt, she realised she still had some homework to complete for the next day. Hastily, she glanced around the messy table, searching for her English essay. With some difficulty, she managed to extract it from under a heavy textbook. Setting it in front of her, she began writing at once. Her pencil flew across the page, again and again. Darcy lifted the pencil to her eyes and inspected it again. It was now blunt. She paused for a moment. After rereading her work, she scribbled in the conclusion and dropped the pencil. It rolled off the desk and onto the floor. If only it was this easy to write something for the competition!
Darcy got up and packed her school bag. She sighed as the silence pressed in on her. She slowly wandered to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and before she got into bed, she walked back to her desk and stared at the blank page in the centre. The paper stared back up at her,
offering no new ideas. Sighing again, she walked to her bedroom and shut the door. Just before she fell asleep, she thought about her uneventful day. Maybe she should just forget about the writing competition and give up. She was just wasting her time, she decided. The flash of inspiration was never going to come – and until then, she was unable to string together the words required for a riveting story that someone would actually want to read.
The sun rose quietly in the sky, and the birds began chirping and screeching at each other from outside Darcy’s window. Blinking groggily, she slowly awoke. What time was it? She squinted at the clock on her table and her heart leapt into her throat. The time barely registered in her mind, but she knew she was late, late, late! After hastily getting dressed and grabbing a slice of toast from the kitchen, she skidded down the hall and out the front door, with her bag on her back. She ran down the street, and down another, and across the main road. Sweat beaded on her forehead as the sun shone, glittering, overhead. She arrived at the school gate just as the bell rang.
At the end of the day, Darcy was one of the last to leave school. The day had gone by
quickly; there had been no time to pause and think about that writing competition. Now, however, as she walked back home, her mind wandered back to the story that she was yet to write. Why couldn’t she do it? Why couldn’t she think of something to write about? She let her mind wander. As she turned into her street, she saw her elderly next-door neighbour sitting in his front yard, reading a newspaper. Tom lived alone, but looked after three German shepherds, an ill-tempered old tabby cat and a number of small turtles that lived in a glass tank. Darcy paused her driveway.
“Hello Tom!” she called.
Tom looked up and squinted at Darcy. He pushed his glasses closer to his eyes and smiled brightly.
“How are you going, Darcy?” he asked. “Come here, I’ve got something to show you.”
Darcy walked past her home and onto the porch of the old man’s house.
“What is it?” she asked curiously.
Tom pointed up at the trees in his yard.
“See what’s there?” he whispered.
Darcy looked up. She made out a bird’s nest amongst the foliage: a bundle of twigs, pine needles and dried grass. A wattlebird was perched on the branch next to it, and kept on flitting back and forth, from branch to nest.
“It’s a bird’s nest!” she cried.
“Go on! Take a closer look!” cried the old man gleefully.
Darcy shuffled forwards until she was right under the tree. She craned her neck. The wattlebird noticed her and looked at her with piercing eyes. Darcy suddenly noticed a soft squawking coming from the nest. She shifted slightly and gasped in awe. In the nest were four little pink chicks; their beaks were wide open and they too were craning their necks, impatient for food.
Darcy quickly moved back to Tom, who was still sitting on the porch.
“They’re brilliant!” she said.
“I only saw them there today,” smiled Tom.
Darcy grinned and headed back to her own home. The joy and delight at seeing the chicks gave her new hope. Automatically, she walked into the study and sat down at her desk. She picked up the pencil that she had dropped on the floor the previous day and stared at the paper before her. Once again, she began to tap the pencil…
Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. Without thinking, Darcy slowly placed her pencil on the paper and began to write.
Tap, tap, tap. she wrote.
Suddenly, she knew. Smiling to herself, she started to write.