Inscription 3: The Quill by Julie
TODAY’S BREW: Still working through this deathbeast Cinnamon Maple. It will not kill me, only make me stronger.
You guys remember Edgar, the 15 year old writing prodigy? Yeah, it gets worse.
Inscription 3: The Quill
Edgar felt poisoned by inability. A dung beetle of words, rolling them over and over until they created an untidy ball that he could survive off of, never give back to.
His fingers shook holding the pen. Eating had become such a distraction, and the greats were not afraid to suffer for their art. If Edgar wanted to be one of them, he must do the same. So he had not eaten in days. Now, it made him tremble like mad, and the page he wrote upon blurred in front of him.
No one could be expected to eat over that stinging stench of dried urine and vomit.
Edgar retched as he reached for the pen he’d dropped, determined to finish this one paragraph, despite the throbbing in his head, the bitter need for water that was just too far away, the intense ache of his very skin.
Despite the raging infection that had crippled his legs. That had now worked its way to his fingers.
The prodigy looked down at the wounds on his thighs. The greatest gift he could ever ask for; to become one with the very novels and their creators.
Edgar had a gift for description. He would have said that his legs were the color of broken birch trees, and just as thin. He felt closer to his favorite works having cut holes in his thighs, pushing inside their best pages to feel them deeper. There could be no other way.
They festered, seeped. Mother told him they needed to be attended to or he would not be able to finish writing. She hadn’t taken him out of that public drudgery to homeschool him for nothing. But when Edgar continued to shove pages into the wounds, she had understood. And she had helped him, as she always did. She sewed the leather spines of those very same masterpieces over his legs to keep the pages safe. His mother knew where inspiration came from.
What they’d created with his legs had driven him to mangle and evolve words, making something so extraordinary even he could not believe its beauty.
But he drained himself to a shell. Nothing left. And there was so much more to write.
The room was bitterly cold, the darkness of it making it even colder. Edgar’s body made no warmth of its own anymore. He didn’t mind the pain, but with fingers so dead, two black, in fact, it was becoming impossible to write at all. The nails had fallen off long ago, and when they weren’t numb, they were even more useless.
He fell back hard against the wooden chair, weak from trying so hard. His breathing was labored. Mother would not be happy with his progress. He looked around the floor at the crumpled papers, tears wetting his eyes. How could he continue, if he could not write?
His physical body had broken his soul.
Mother came in with another rush of cold, making Edgar shake and cower into himself.
“Edgar, you look half asleep.” Too dehydrated to speak, he only nodded.
She bent over him at the desk, gagging him with her perfume that smelled too much like food. She ran her hands over the book bindings on his thighs. She took both his hands in hers, turning them over, clicking her tongue in disapproval.
She dug a fingernail into the black sore on one fingertip, getting a gagging scream out of the boy. She did not flinch when she said, “Well, you still have feeling in that one. Good.” She jabbed one of the black fingers. “But not these. This is your writing hand.” She continued to feel his hand, his wrist, the forearm, the only doctor he was ever likely to see. “Try to hold the pen, Edgar.”
He concentrated on moving the destroyed fingers, an alien in his own body. Only some of his knuckles would bend. Mother put the pen gently between his fingers, holding it properly for him, with predatory intensity. Edgar grunted with effort to move, the lack of feeling so at odds with the heated passion in his brain, insectile ideas running with pinching tentacles, scraping to get out.
“Help me, please, Mother. Can you write the words for me?”
Still staring at the fingers she clenched, she shook her head. “No, Edgar, they are your words, the process needs to be yours, completely. This is how the artist suffers, to find the next way to express himself. Now, you find yours.”
He screamed as her nails impaled his hand, trying harder to make him hold the pen. But then he was awakened.
“Mother!” he cried, struggling against her. “I know what to do.”
Cold sweat dripped into his eyes as his mother let go of his hands. “Please give me the scissors.”
They scraped across the desktop, leaving flecks of dried blood in their path.
Their eyes bored into each other, buzzing determination passing between them. Edgar took the scissors in his skeletal left hand, and carefully twisted the point of them into the black index fingertip on his right. His mother did not move as she watched. He did not scream as putrid blood flowed out. He pulled the scissors out, a rancid squishing noise making his head swim. He pushed it in harder, again, wiggling it back and forth, feeling nearly nothing. His eyes darted as he tried to focus.
With an adrenaline surge he knew too well, Edgar struggled to hold the barrel of the pen in his left hand. He needled it into the scissorhole of his index finger, ignoring the agony he knew it must have caused him. Flies buzzed around him as he slowly pushed the pen further into his finger, forging a path with its blunt end, to forge a path for his words.
“Good boy,” his mother whispered, caressing the finger that would not bend again.
Black ink from blacker finger from darkest heart.
Edgar vomited, sweat dripping onto a fresh sheet of paper. Wiping his mouth, he looked at his mother with glistening eyes.
“I’m ready to write.”