“It’s crazy!” Sam complained. “What does she mean, ‘write a story about an inanimate object without anthropomorphizing it?’”
Sullenly, he kicked the stone down the street in front of him. Sam drawled out each syllable on the word anthropomorphize and then for good measure spat on the ground.
“I don’t even know what that word means,” he grumbled.
June slugged him in the shoulder, and not softly, either.
“Ow!” Sam yelped. “What did you do that for?”
“Because I’m tired of listening to you whine,” she retorted, leaning down to pluck a tall grass stem to chew on.
June and Sam had lived next door to each other since they were born, and had the (sometimes dubious) pleasure of being each other’s constant companions since they were both only children and lived at the very last stop on the bus stop about a thirty minute’s walk from their nearest classmate.
“Besides,” June continued, “how hard could it be to write about this grass I’m chewing on? Or the rock you so viciously kicked down the road. Or that bumblebee right there?”
June was much more even tempered than Sam, who had a tendency to dramatize and fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. Or pout – whichever seemed most likely to get him what he wanted at the time.
“C’mon, Sam,” June wheedled, grinning around the grass stem in her mouth, “it’ll be fun.”
Sam shrugged and followed June into the shade under the old maple tree and out of the blazing heat. Once under the shade, he promptly felt better and brushed a tired hand across his watery eyes.
Sam had never been terribly healthy, especially compared to June’s vibrancy and energetic enjoyment of all life had to offer. Sam suffered from frequent headaches, and what his mother called “spells” where the world just seemed to go out of focus and waver and glimmer and end up in a throbbing in his head and stabbing pain in his temples.
Sam decided if he was going to write about anything, it would be about the sneaky, sudden attacks and what brought them on. Surely they had a life of their own.
Sam’s imagination quite clearly painted a picture of a dark, shapeless blob that crouched in a dim corner of an abandoned and dusty room. The blob would spend hours, days, sometimes even weeks, in complete isolation and Sam would forget that the blob even existed.
And then something would change. The blob would begin to grow and spread and reflect brilliant colors, rather like a prism that caught the sun. The room that had been so dark and still became brilliantly lit, painfully so, and the blob would shiver and tremble and throb in time to the shifting changing lights.
As the blob grew bigger and sucked up the light, Sam’s vision would grow darker and the pain would begin. Sam wasn’t sure if his head was keeping time to the changing shapes of the blob, or if the blob was mirroring the tempo thudding in his head, but they were perfectly matched.
Just when Sam would reach a point where he felt he must scream or bash his head against a wall just to create a different pain, the blob would suddenly stiffen and then slowly begin to contract, pulling the vivid lights and painful sounds with him until eventually the blob crouched in the still, silent, musty corner in a dim room.
Sam’s sight would slowly return and the rushing noise in his head diminished and he could feel his feet on the ground again – connected, alive.
Yes, Sam decided, he would do his best to write about this specter that haunted him and sprang out at inconvenient, unexpected times. Maybe if he grew to understand it better, he could keep it small and still.
Sam could hope. Sometimes, his wishes came true.