Evaline hugged her knees, the light from the fire painting her face with dancing shadows.
“I’m scared, Sal.”
About whether I’m ever going to write anything of real value, or something that speaks to someone. I worry that I don’t have a poetic mind, or that my status as the third child has made me lazy and useless. I get really scared. I get freaked out by how creative some people are in this city and I start to think that I don’t have the drive that other people do, and that I’ll always be the funny guy in the room who’s primary talent is self-deprecation, who calls himself a writer but rarely writes anything.
And then I remember that my life is so much more than whether or not I ever write a good book, or impress people with my words; it’s just a life. If it’s full of good people then what do I have to complain about? If I travel, enjoy my meals, kiss the people I want to kiss, what’s wasted? If I’m grateful, if I’m compassionate, if I treat human beings with dignity, then what’s it matter if my words are coarse and boring? That’s not mindless consumption. That’s not hedonism. That’s living.
Who taught you to write in blood on my back? Who taught you to use your hands as branding irons? You have scored your name into my shoulders, referenced me with your mark. The pads of your fingers have become printing blocks, you tap a message on to my skin, tap meaning into my body. Your morse code interferes with my heart beat. I had a steady heart before I met you, I relied upon it, it had seen active service and grown strong. Now you alter its pace with your own rhythm, you play upon me, drumming me taut.