He stared at the blank page and it reflected his mind.
Not that he had nothing to say. On the contrary, he felt he had plenty to say, so much so that all the bits of it were piling against the floodgates that ran to his fingers, coagulating against one another and preventing any from being projected out into the void.
And while all those things were there, fluttering just behind his eyes and bouncing off one another like moths crowding toward an incandescent, false moon, he couldn’t seem to find a shape for them. They were formless hunks of half-formed ideas that he felt sure he could make into something if only he could figure out that first word.
So Hugh Summerville picked one at random.
Burma. It popped in there at once. People were fighting for democracy in Myanmar, he’d read just a few seconds earlier during one of his many forays into the void, excursions he made every time his attention wavered.
Burma. Democracy in Burma. Burmese pythons. Burmese mountain dogs. Dogs fighting pythons. Hugh didn’t even like dogs (or pythons), not really, because he found them to be too much like children, except harder to wrangle, impossible to reason with, and constantly begging for food.
Misbehaving dogs drove Hugh crazy. It was an attitude he’d inherited from his mother, who always would yell at the family dogs (why there had been two Hugh had no idea) regardless of what they were doing, and most the time when they were doing nothing at all.
He hated the fact that he’d been so influenced by his parents’ opinions. His dumb parents, Hugh corrected himself, rapping on the delete key. They knew nothing of the world in which Hugh lived, he was sure. They were often closed-minded. They disagreed with him on a number of political and religious fronts. Once, his mother had been so offended that Hugh said he considered himself an atheist that he’d thought she might disown him then and there.
Not that Hugh had had much in the way of a religious upbringing. But suddenly it was incredibly important, and his lack of faith incredibly disappointing. He refused to talk about it ever again.
He considered deleting the document up to now and replacing it with a discussion of religion and parents, but really, he had nothing to say on the matter. His parents irritated him, and so did religion. End of story.
He considered next a long dissertation on his politics, the stupidly hard-to-explain cross between laissez-faire and social protection that even he couldn’t really wrap his head around. Health care yes, government control no. Security yes, government wiretaps no. Strong dealing with foreign aggressors yes, preemptive war no. Part-time state legislature. Better road care. Free market. Regulations against jokers in the energy industry.
The philosophy was wrought with contradictions, Hugh was the first to admit that. No reason in inviting criticism from the fat Internet geeks he knew who would probably be the first, last and only people to read what he had to say. Not that had had anything to say at on the front that hadn’t been said, and said better, by someone else anyway.
Annoyed, he shut the laptop. He wandered the room for a few seconds, then returned, determined to force himself to be interesting, to pour his thoughts out into the void, to prove to himself that he was both worthwhile and had something worth sharing with others.
But he didn’t.
The screen shimmered dark and light, the text going gray and blurry before his eyes. It was a convoluted, nonsensical mess, but so was his mind.
Fuck it, Hugh thought. No one read what he had to write anyway. If a tree falls in the woods, alone and cold and desperate to leave an impression before it rots away and disappears, at least it makes a sound to itself.
Therefore, writing without having anything to write was just fine. After all, everyone else did.
Hugh tapped “publish” and went for a smoke.