A story written from a prompt.
The prompt: “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.”
For all the creative juices pumping through her veins, all the talent bottled up in that little body of hers, and the parentage that nearly guaranteed her own amazing skill, she had never put down a single original thought. She had painted in the styles of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. She had played Mozart and Chopin with ease. She had sung Carmen and Madame Butterfly to perfection. She had danced in every style from ballet to hip hop with envied grace.
But nothing of her own.
For all the dexterity of those fingers that could fly through Beethoven's Third as easily as she breathed, when they held a pen, they went as stiff and still as David. For all the swiftness of her mind as she memorized the the Italian phrases and the beautiful melodies, if asked what rhymed with ‘moon’ that same mind would shut down and become as immobile as the faces of Mount Rushmore.
And she never understood why.
She kicked at a loose piece of concrete on the sidewalk, scuffing her converse. Her face felt as thought it might be stuck in a permanent scowl and the thought only made the scowl deepen.
Everything had always come so easily to her. She, the only daughter of a Broadway star and a world famous musician, was someone that everyone had thought nothing impossible for.
So why was it that the one thing everyone expected of her seemed to the be the one thing she was utterly incapable of doing? Putting an original thought down felt as though she were trying to shove an elephant through the eye of a needle-- painful and disappointing for everyone involved.
She had done absolutely everything she could think of to try and rectify the situation. She had taken classes that taught how to write everything from poetry and songs to novels and short stories, but had failed every single one of them to the shock and dismay of the teachers. Then she’d tried impromptu classes, thinking that since it was on stage it might be a bit easier. After all, she’d practically lived on stage since she could walk. That had ended with her teacher nearly in tears at how painfully bad she was.
Needless to say, she had failed that class as well and for her, it had been the last straw. She had gone home and, in a fit of frustration, screaming at the top of her lungs, shredded every piece of music, ripped every canvas off the walls, broke every CD, tore apart every book, and cut up every script in her possession. Then she took scissors to all the photos of everything she’d ever done that was someone else’s work and burned the pieces over her stove.
That accomplished she had felt minimally better and, ignoring the wailing sound of the smoke detectors and the yelling of the neighbors, she had decided to take a walk.
So far that walk consisted of her scowling at her innocent converse which, sadly for the poor converse, wasn’t helping her foul mood. Metaphorically speaking, or even in a half decent novel, her rampage should have given her something of a new outlook on life or a fresh start from which she could gain some brilliant stroke of hibernating genius. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to be coming of that particular plan and the fact only added to her frustration.
What was she doing wrong?
She paused and looked up for the first time in her walk as she heard a single voice raised above the babble of the crowd. The owner of the voice was easy enough to spot. He was standing on a bench not too far away, surrounded by a crowd of people who were listening to him. She realized almost immediately that it was a poetry reading, and was surprised that it was happening outside.
But it wasn’t the crowd that caught her eye or the young man on the bench, and it wasn’t the poem he was reciting that drew her toward them or the rapt attention the crowd was giving the speaker. No, it was something much less noticeable, much less significant, much less conspicuous, and it was currently residing on the head of the young man who was speaking.
It was obviously very old, looking worn and slightly faded from it’s original black to a very dark gray. She wondered just how many owners it had gone through to reach the current head it sat on, but she couldn’t have guessed.
Of course, she couldn’t have said why she was drawn to it either. There was no real reason for it. It was just an old hat.
Her scowl turned thoughtful as she stared at it.
As he finished his poem, the young man caught her eye and winked. Her eyes widened slightly before her face took on it’s darkest scowl yet that day and she turned away abruptly. Forget it. Who cared about some old hat? The owner obviously thought she was starring at him instead of his fedora. It wasn’t worth finding out why she’d been so drawn to it if they guy thought she was interested in him.
Too much trouble.
A hand on her shoulder stopped her and she looked up again to see that self same young man standing there. She brushed his hand away irritably, but he stepped in front of her.
“Hang on now,” he said with a smile as he held up his hands. For some reason she got the feeling that he would start laughing at any moment.
“What?” she growled.
“Having a bad day?”
He did laugh at that and she was forced to admit that it was quite a pleasant sound, but she wasn’t in the mood to deal with people as happy as he was. She began walking again and he fell into step with her. She steadfastly ignored him.
“You know,” he said after a moment. “Realists are just cynics in disguise.”
“And what are you?” she shot back. “A stalker wannabe?”
He laughed again, then reached up, took off his fedora, and plopped it onto her head. With a grin, he did a one eighty and went back the way he’d come as she froze and whipped the hat off her head, eyes wide.
“What the--? What are you doing?”
He turned so that he was walking backwards and put his hands behind his head, still smiling.
“You looked like you could use some inspiration in your writing and that hat’s the best inspiration catcher you could ask for.”
“What are you talking about?” she demanded. “I can’t write.”
“Sure you can. Everyone’s got something to say. Just do me a favor, okay? Once you find your muse, pass the fedora on to someone else who needs it.”
Completely confused by the odd confrontation, she could only watch him wave and disappear into the crowd, leaving her holding the old fedora. She looked down at it, frowning.
She flipped the hat upside down, turned it around, and then spun in on her hand. It was just an old hat. What was it supposed to do exactly?
With a shrug, she plopped the hat back on her head and started walking once more. Well, it couldn’t hurt to try, could it? Maybe it was part of that fresh start she’d been hoping for when she’d caused that building-wide fire panic.
A little giggle escaped her and her foul mood lightened quite suddenly as she remembered. Who knew? Maybe the hat could help after all. She grinned.
Stranger things had happened.