Liz Roemisch


There was an Eifel tower on her key ring.  A small, metal trinket from a French tourist shop; stating ‘Paris’ and ‘France’ proudly on its sides.

She’d never actually been to Europe; much less the streets of Paris.  But she’d been to the Paris salute in Las Vegas; and it had felt close enough when she’d found the keychain on the ground and had taken it for her own.  

After all, at any time of day all one would see was scenery and city lights from the tops of both towers.  Who was to say that the lights of one were better or worse than those of another?

It was all about self-perception, really.

She twirled the little piece by the neck as she thought.

It was time to move outside of the self and explore the farthest reaches of the imagination.  She’d used to do that all the time when she was a child.  Back when opening lines were easy because they always consisted of ‘Hi, my name is…’.

Opening lines were still easy now.  It wasn’t the endless struggle to put down even a single word, as it was for some.  Opening lines came a dime a dozen (3 dozen for a nickel on Tuesdays).

It was continuing after the opening line had been created that was the problem.  It was finding sentence #2 that would flesh it out and give the opening line actual purpose which killed all efforts.

It would be so much easier, she thought, if she was one of those other people.  That way there wouldn’t be the ricochet of joy and agonizing defeat; there would only be frustration.  One emotion was always easier to deal with than two.

But that was all just wishful thinking.  What was that phrase…?  ‘The grass is always greener’…?  People probably wished to have her sort of problem; if only to shake things up.

But it was beside the point; what was needed now was an idea as opposed to a line.  Nothing fancy like a sci-fi universe (how people just threw them out…), it could be something down-to-Earth and normal.

Like how there was no peace at midnight; what with all of the children enjoying newly found freedom by crowding the lounge.  Or how the lights in the city would flicker at a distance; despite the fact that they had to be on steadily wherever they came from.

But no.  These were lines and openings again; not concepts that could be stretched to make a piece of reasonable length.

What she needed was a character.  Once a person had one it was so much easier to make more.  It was the getting a proper one that was difficult.  She had a few, but they would require too much back-story for a whole piece.  She had one, but damned if she was going to write about writing again.  That one was only half a person at that point, anyway; just a vessel for ranting.

What she had was a keychain from Guadalajara.  Smoothed leather worn down and stained from too much time spent in pockets and rain.

She had been to Mexico before; days spent in port cities and towns.  She didn’t remember names, but she remembers scenery.  Guadalajara just wasn’t one of them.  She was fairly sure, anyway.

This piece had been a gift, and she carried it dutifully out of respect, if for no other reason.

She would love to travel to all these places.  It was chic to go to Europe, it was exotic to go to South America; both placed at greater importance than exploring one’s own country.  Traveling took money and time, though; and lots of both.  To get either took work and study, and that’s why she was where she was at that point.

Which reminded her that there was reading to be done; there was a project and an analysis.  Those should come before writing.

But it was midnight by that point; or at least it had been at last check.  Her eyes were too heavy; there was only so much concentration she could spare.  To think of anything else right then was procrastination.

The issue still remained what to write about.

To take a note from Sunset Boulevard, it was what was true that read the best.  She had no teacher scene for a flashback; but there was a death, there were the struggles with the fish, there were her religiously-followed programs.

She was going to bring it close to home… perhaps too close?  No one really wanted to read an autobiography.  Besides, the whole point was to step outside the self.

What she needed was a writing prompt.  Four words to be grouped together and expanded upon.  What she needed was a writing group that was interested in meeting at all rather than meeting too much to explore what was going on.  But such things were a rare commodity that had been wasted on the young.

Now that people were shocked that anyone should even mention the words ‘writing prompt’, ideas had to be created from nothing.

Because everyone could make something from nothing without any thought.

Her mother had bought her shoes for the keychain.  Small, rubber sandals declaring names and love for relations amongst flowers and butterflies.  From some city in the northern part of the state, though she didn’t know which one.

Her keys had lived lives that she would never see.  She carried lies with her wherever she went.  But, then, that’s what being a fiction writer was.  You kept lies and tales in your pockets.

But being a fiction writer was also being able to come up with things; and she just wasn’t that right then.

It would take more work; it would take stretching the imagination to the point where it could expand the way it could years ago.

But that was all for a later point.

Right then, it was sleep that was vital.  She placed the failed attempts and keys to the side and crawled up to bed to wallow in defeat.

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