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Thomas Ritchie



He looked around him and wondered how he had come to this place. It wasn’t sudden, he knows that, it had been a gradual thing, with many twists and turns and choices and decisions. How many good? How many bad? How many deliberate? How many unconscious? He couldn’t tell, not anymore. It would require hours and days of thought and introspection which he did not feel up to right now, at this moment. But it would come on its own, he knew, like a pot boiling over in the back of his mind.

The room was small and furnished and came with a bathroom of its own, at least. It was not nice, but it was not bad either. It was clean and relatively bug free. The neighbors were quiet and kept to themselves, mostly. The rent was cheap, but he did not figure you would have to mention that, it would seem obvious. It left him with the ability to take a lower paying job. One less demanding of his time and energy, that way, he could write.

He was not writing anything. He wanted to. It was a constant pressure within him, pushing up, pushing out. But still nothing came. So he waited, and he thought. He thought about how he had gotten here.

There was the original home, the family home, which he tried to feel good about, but really didn’t. For a long time while he was there, it was all and whole and completely the world. He remembered sunshine days and new fallen snow. It was rural and there had been endless exploring. But as he got older, it got smaller, more stifling, constricting. There were conflicts, competitions, rivalries, jealousies that got in the way. He never felt that he had gotten a lot of support there. Too much pride, much of it his, but not only his, had gotten in the way.

Then there was the apartment, the first place of his own. That had been good for a long time, well, awhile anyway.  At first, there had been a contentment and satisfaction in independence and freewill.  A space, a place of your own, where you could do anything and nothing you wanted. It was not long before it became a trap, a cage full of everything and nothing. Expectations and longings, hopes and desires and even ambitions that he did not know he was in possession of, and never would have admitted to, even if he had been aware of them. And then of course there was the house in Holbrook, where, for a time, it seemed that all and everything was encompassed and included, that there was nothing more to hope for or want.

Through all this he saw a line, a rising, curving, descending arc; the trajectory of artillery shell, the fall of his own ambition. He had not seen it then, but now he could see it clearly. The need to write always gnawing and clawing at the back of his mind. For a long time he did not even know what it was, could not have identified it. But it was there, so deeply instinctual, apparently, that it came expressed only as a vague and consistent dissatisfaction. A distraction, a constant itch, always, at the back of his mind, pulling him from every discipline and deed. Without thinking about it, he absently rubs the base of his left hand ring finger with the ball of his thumb. His eyes are deep, dark, distracted.

Holbrook. The house in Holbrook. Things had been good there for quite a long time. All his energy, creative and otherwise, went into loving it and them. Still, distraction found him out there as well, came calling. Tensions escalated, were exaggerated? He did not know now. It was difficult to separate the wheat from the chafe, and did it matter anymore? The responsibility and the blame were not his alone, but still, he could not help but feel that he had sold something or someone out. And for what?

Now this place, one of many in a string that did not matter at all. Not to him or anyone else. Like the jobs, it was just a place, sufficient and suitable, and nothing more. A place and not a home. And still he did not write. Not anything.

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