the voice within.

She hovers over my right shoulder; squinting at the words as I type them. I focus in on the screen and read what I have written. I smile. I am pleased.

I hear her clucking her tongue; she emits a sigh that is heavy with disapproval.

“What?” I ask, not daring to turn to look at her. I know that if do, I will be confronted with that angry-hurt expression she saves especially for me. I hold my breath then let out a heavy sigh of my own, conceding to her passive attack.

“What’s wrong with it?”

Her smile is almost audible. I have opened the floodgates. Enter: the deluge of scathing criticism. But I know that first I will need to tolerate her passive-aggressive bullshit.

“Nothing…. I mean, nothing is really wrong with it,” Another sigh. “I mean, if you’re okay with it then I’m sure its just fine.”

I clench my jaw tightly and turn around in time to see her rolling her eyes in a way that should not even be physiologically possible.

“Just tell me what needs to change.”

“No need to take that tone with me. I am only trying to help. I have only ever wanted to help. I only ever want what’s best for you.” She assumes that well-practised, wide-eyed expression of unacknowledged martyrdom.

How did she manage to make it about her? Again?

I bite down on my bottom lip. I try to prevent the words from leaving my mouth and vindicating her. As always, the words escape, retiring and apologetic

“S-sorry. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful. Tell me how I can write better?” I swallow hard. “Please.”

Her eyes light up in gleeful victory. She leans over my shoulder and taps her sharply manicured nail on the screen.

“Well, I would change the tense. And don’t use the word ‘sat’. It’s so common. And blue? What kind of blue? And what kind of sky? More adjectives! You need more adjectives!”

Her voice trails off as I sink down into my chair and sink further into dejectedness. I look at the screen. How could there possibly be so many faults with the first sentence? I read it again:

I sat down and looked up at the vast blue sky.

 She is right.

I am a terrible writer.

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