Two Writers Correspond, Fall In Love

This is a short story called Sticky Notes. I wrote this eight years ago, when I was taking a creative writing course. I am clearing out my laptop today, and stumbled upon this sweet morsel of awesomeness in a very buried folder.

Sticky Notes

Sunspot,

            Send more. Included are pages for you.

                                                Chuskin

            Chris drew a notepad into his lap. He fingered a pencil. Not good for writing, he chanted, but the bottle of pens was across the room. Throwing a swoop in the page he inscribed a great, daring H.

“H,” he whispered. “H.”

Twenty minutes, and the H remained a bachelor on the legal pad. Chris watched a solitary pigeon waggle frumpily on the window sill. The pencil twisted idly through his fingers.

***

            The pen poised in his hand, Chris regarded the title page. He smoothed the sheet, which was still warm from the printer. Chuskin, he wrote. What kind of a name is Chuskin? He must be an eccentric. His eyes lingered on the post-it that was still clinging to his desk. Chuskin had good handwriting; smooth and strong and tilted to the left. The loops on his p’s and y’s were even. They made thin, powerful dips into the space below, and the consonants marched like well-ordered acrobats over a tight rope. Men shouldn’t be able to write that way, he thought, looking at his own crunchy scrawl.

 

            Chuskin,

Here is the next chapter. We should have a meeting and discuss characters. I like Molly.

                                                Sunspot

            He took the package to the mailbox and dropped it in. The paper made a whispery thud at the bottom of the box. Chris stood for a moment and felt the sun baking into his arms. The air moved against his chest, and he could feel the shadows of leaves falter over his face. With a sigh, he stumped up the stairs and into his clammy apartment. The air machine was broken, but the landlady refused to take the bolts off the windows. Two inches of air limped into the room, admitted by a battered edition of Chaucer jamming the casement open. Chris would have put Hamlet and Chekhov into the window as well, but he’d only been able to smash half of the bolt away, and two inches was as much as he could get. Chris slumped into the chair. He folded the edge of his legal pad. He unfolded it and creased a smaller triangle.

“Harold,” he said. “Harold.”

The frumpy pigeon was back with a friend; Chris watched them squabble vociferously over the stale bagel on the window ledge. The corner of his page fell away.

           ***

Sunspot,

 Harold is a terrible name. Bryant or Jerrez. You choose. More pages for you.

                                    Chuskin

            Chris stuck the note next to the old one and turned over the sheets. Chuskin had written twelve pages in two days. He’s good, Chris thought with a twinge of envy. Better than me. He pulled the notepad from his desk and fished a pen from under the chair. Thirteen pages, he wrote at the corner of the pad. He underlined it four times.

“Molly and Bryant,” he said. “Molly and Brian.” The chair swiveled gently back and forth, back and forth.

Four pigeons quarreled over a corner of turkey sandwich.

            ***

            Chris practiced writing Chuskin on a spare page. He swept his elbow in circles, trying to get a perfect hemisphere for the C.

“Ch. . .” An odd angle burgeoned into the curve. Chris printed a new title page. “Chus–k–in.”

            Chuskin,

Can you meet me next week? I want to discuss plot points. Call me.

                                    Sunspot

                                    (356-223-4589)

            ***

Sunspot,

            Meet me in Fred’s Grease Pot at five. Thursday.

                        Chuskin

            Chris stuck the note to his desk. He was relieved to find the stack of pages thinner than usual; only six this time. He wrote a seven at the top of his legal pad and underlined it.

Chris chewed the cap of his pen and watched the pigeons mangle pizza crust. The last time he’d been to Fred’s he’d taken a girl, which was not a mistake he’d make again in a hurry. Fred lost things in the food sometimes, and his plates were never really clean. It took guts to eat there, but to Chris it was a proof of manhood. He and Chuskin would bond well at Fred’s.

            ***

            “You’re a woman.”

She looked up at him. Her eyes were a startling green and she wore three sets of earrings in each ear. She glanced down at the handwritten table card and back up at him.

“Sunspot?” she asked. He nodded. “I’m Marti.” She held out a sun-browned hand. He took it reluctantly. She had a very firm grip.

“Have you eaten at Fred’s before?” he asked when they had sat down.

“All the time. Do you like his spaghetti?” When he nodded she yelled across the room, “Oy! Freddie! Two dishes of meatballs!” She looked back at him. “So. I’ve been thinking about Molly.”

Chris felt awkward; it seemed very wrong to be eating Fred’s meatballs with an attractive woman who was also a writer. If he had met Marti before reading her work, he would have thought she was a dim bulb. She looked like she belonged on the passenger half of a Harley.

            ***

            When they left Fred’s, Chris wasn’t feeling awkward anymore. He had gotten used to the idea of writing with Marti; in fact, he had very nearly asked for her number. He walked up his stairs, kicking the metal step guards as he went. Marti was a nicer name than Chuskin. He lay in bed for some time, feeling tremors of a breeze sneak in at the window crack.

            ***

Sunspot,

            We need a scene with Molly and Brian. Your turn.

                        Chuskin

            Chris thought ‘Sunspot’ was written more neatly than usual. He posted the note on the wall above the desk and pulled a notepad onto his lap. He fingered his pencil. Not good for writing with, he chanted, but the bottle of pens was across the room. He twirled the pencil over his fingers, watching the dried-out tuna on the window sill. The pigeons were gone today.

           ***

            Dear Marti,

Here is the scene you asked for. I hope it is steamy enough.

                        Sunspot

           ***

Sunspot,

            Call me Chuskin. Rewrite the scene. Suggestions below.

                        Chuskin

            Chris stared at the note. He pulled open the pages and scanned; they were filled up with sharp red slashes. He looked at the four-day-old tuna in the window. Pigeons, he had found, didn’t care for tuna. He got up and scraped the crusted lump into the trash. He found a pen and sat back down. The sun blared through the glass.

           ***

            Chuskin,

Better, I hope.

                        Sunspot

            Chris dropped the package into the mouth of the mailbox; it made a thud when it hit the bottom. He stood for a moment, letting the rain dust his hair. A drop fell on the tip of his nose. He sighed and stumped up the stairs again. There was a little puddle forming on the window ledge. A single pigeon–not the frumpy one–was frunched against the window, its wings crouched up against the wet. Chris watched it shiver.

            ***

Sunspot,

            This is very beautiful. Thanks.

                        Chuskin

            Chris held the note, sliding his forefinger over the corners. She liked it. There were at least a hundred notes stuck to his desk and wall, but they were all business notes. This note was like a love song. He stood on his chair and stuck it to the ceiling, right above the desk. He stared up at it, his pen sliding idly over his notepad. Three pigeons fought loudly over a scrap of pie crust.

           ***

            Chuskin,

Meet me outside Fred’s at six.

                        Yours,

                                    Sunspot

            ***

Sunspot,

            Call me Marti.

                        Chuskin

          ***

            Marti,

I love you. Publisher wants a meeting at two this Tuesday. Carpool?

                        Sunspot

           ***

Sunspot,

            We’ll finish someday. Writing is stupid. Call me.

                        Chuskin

            ***

            Dear Marti,

Here is an ending. Mark it up and send it back.

                        Sunspot

            ***

Sunspot,

            Finished your ending. Read and respond.

                        Chuskin

            ***

            Marti,

You are a goddess. Send it.

                        Sunspot

          ***

Sunspot,

        Drama over cover; illustrator claims my name is too long.

                        Chuskin

          ***

            Dear Marti,

Here is the rewrite. Call if you have comments.

                        Sunspot

            ***

Sunspot,

            We are the best ever. Fame and glory. I like the book.

                        Chuskin

         ***

            Chris sat in his chair, making perfect C’s on his legal pad. He fetched his jar of pens and rifled for the smooth black one. He sat down. His palms were moist.

            Dear Chuskin,

            He stopped again. He almost crossed out Chuskin. Snow was swirling violently outside; Chaucer had long since been yanked from the casement, but the crack had proved immovable. A yellow towel was shoved into the gap, but shards of icy air still spun into the room.

            Dear Chuskin,

Marry me?

                        Sunspot

            Chris stuck the note to the book and put it into a package. He went outside and dropped it into the mouth of the mailbox. It made a heavy chunk when it hit the bottom. He stood for a moment, feeling the prick of the cold flakes against his eyelids. The air pressed against his chest, and a shadow from the street lamp flickered over his face. He sighed and tramped back up the stairs. He sat in his chair, a pen in his hand. He twirled it through his fingers. A soiled clump of pigeons was hunched around the piece of towel in the window.

            ***

Chris,

            Stupid question. Yes.

                        Marti

***

(the end)

You’ve been reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. Here are some of my awesome books.

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