• Daniela Sylmae

The Writer's Pen | Sylmae Tales

The pen is mightier than the sword when the writer yielding it feels the weight of the iron weapon; when they do not, it is just a pen.


For a writer, there is no worse prison than that of writer's block. For the past five years, I have grown very close to the thick, claustrophobic feel of it, and it has left a heavier mark than that of an abhorred tattoo.


I reach my spacious desk with enough room for two lazy cats, or that of my writing if I were not confined. The room is perfectly still, the air carrying the salty scent of sea water. I inhale deeply with eyes closed as I sit in my rather uncomfortable seat. I open my eyes to see the waves dance against the burning sand right outside my window. I feel a small, nostalgic grin form on my lips to see my old friend; the sea is the only pleasant companion that visits me in my imprisonment.


I reach down to the second-to-last drawer. Right behind the golden handle, I can see the oak wood, worn from my fingers constantly brushing against it. I open to find a stack of unscathed sheets of lined paper. My breathing becomes lazy, but heavy, for even though it is an unbroken routine, the excitement of being able to create, at long last, never falters.


The page feels as empty as an anxious safe residing in a rich man's mansion. I lift it carelessly onto the desk, leaving it crooked against the wood as I search for my pen. With a single lift of the eyes, I find the black pen. It's at the top right corner of the desk, resting indifferently. The pen is a dark midnight shade with a bright, silver nib, both of which are covered in scratches of concentrating fingernails. The cap lies far from it, lazy and bored. Though I want to scowl at the scratch marks on it, I let my tired eyes speak for me. I pick it up like the air itself and lift it across the desk over to the sheet of paper where it stays, hovering in my hand.


This is the part I dread. I can feel the weight of the bags under my eyes increase to unbearable standards. My fingers rub against one another with impatience. My chest now accepts the mild depression that comes with the inability to write. I lick my lips, biting them slightly, a way to distract myself from the gloom I experience in my prison.


With the slippery, slick move of a poisonous, sly snake, the inner critic begins to whisper without me noticing his arrival until the first word comes out.


"Pitiful... Disgraceful... Unworthy. It's almost disgusting now to see you even try. Every word you write will just be a waste of space, ink, time."


"It can be improve, easily. It's just a start," I reply in defense.


"Your first word is enough to turn your reader away. You really need to stop this; you're embarrasing yourself."


Its venomous words punctured my confidence.


"It's not that bad. I can leave it and read it again tomorrow. I can make sure it says what I want it to say."


"You only wait because you finally see it! That's why you can't write anything now, isn't it? You finally realize your lack of talent. Don't worry. Writing isn't for everyone. It certainly isn't meant for your pathetic self."


His voice is like molasses, thick and dark. At the right angle, it will move to all parts of the mind. My self-confience is ensnared and buried beneath the snake's words.


"I just need to give myself some time. I'll write again when I know what to write..."


"Just give up. There's no point. Don't you see? Now one wants to read your terrible writing!"


My eyes lower to my shaky hands. "It's not good enough yet. No one wants to read this. It's terrible!"


Adding fuel to my destructive fire, he continues, "Anything you write will be illogical, inconsiderate, ridiculous, incorrect."


"This is the worst writing I've ever done. My writing is just awful..."


"Perhaps a look into the past will remind you of your evident failure whenever you reach for a pen," his now fading voice reminds me.


My eyes glance over to my right where I see the patch of imperfect floorboard with awful scratches. It was three years into my imprisonment on a cold, winter night. I used to write incredible things on winter nights, and I suppose my rarely optimistic-self felt as thought the winter night would spark an inspirational fire within me.


I found myself, three hours later, with an empty page, crying eyes, and the stench of soiled wine.


With an enraged, jerking hand, I grabbed my glass of wine and threw it to the ground. I stared at it for hours. I didn't even clean it up until the morning after. My writing hand wasn't harmed by the broken glass, but my spirit was, for after that day, my excited skipping step became the lagging stroll of a lost wanderer.


I stare at my writing hand and feel the frown appear. Days come and go where my mind pictures a scar across the palm, and with this wound, I can see the reason why I cannot write. I can physically see the very culprit that sent me behind thick, restricting walls. With a clear image of the criminal, I can feel a sense of relief in myself, for Relief only stays the night when Worry leaves the room.


Imagination is good for that, giving shivering Anxiety a security blanket with the perfume that only Relief owns; but beautiful Imagination can only keep the game going for so long. The scar on my palm disappears and my writer's block no longer has its clear explanation, and I sigh.


I push away from the desk and stand. Grabbing the blue, cotton cardigan, I quickly walk out the back door without a second glance to the empty sheet.


I am greeted with the great embrace of the sun's overly enthusiastic warmth and the gentle breeze of the ocean's considerate waves. Despite the sun's descent signaling the approaching dusk, I can feel its thick warmth, and though not my favorite feeling, I welcome it all the same.


The pressure in my chest lifts slightly with the soothing sound of gentle roaring waves, my familiar lullaby. I stare at the waves as they move against one another. They move with a harmonious randomness that gingerly sends swimming bodies into the arms of the current. I felt the urge of an eager child, desperately wanting to swim in the sea and feel the embrace.


Soothing and lustful colors paint the sky with hues of purple, pink, and gold. My mind begins to scramble through the mess of letters to see if I can come up with a way to put the beauty of colors into words, but there is nothing worthy of ink. Colors are meant to be seen. The man who can describe a color to a blind man, and have the blind man smile, has a mightier sword than that of King Arthur's own Exaclibur.


As hopeless writers do, I begin to cry. I cry without realization until the breeze makes the wet streaks on my cheek go cold. I blink my eyes furiously to stop the tears from falling.


With a pink background, the ocean becomes the color of gorgeous obsidian, and so does the head that pops out.


My eyes begin to blink again from pure shock and misunderstanding. The head of a woman pops out of the waves with onyx-black hair. She is close enough for me to see her pale, shimmery skin that resembles bioluminescence. Her eyes are wide and deep with dark colors searching for light. There is a slight tremble in her lips, almost as if she is unsure whether to threaten me or to smile at me.


There is no hesitation in my smile, and though it was the tiniest of them, it resonates with her, for she inches the corner of her lips upward just enough for my heart to feel instantly warm and loved.


No motions of the head or waving of the hands are necessary for me to see the polite farewell she offers in her eyes. I only hope my eyes do the same.


She turns around, sending foamy water splashing around her. She lifts her arms above her head and dives down. Behind her comes the vibrant, emerald tail of a fish with scales that reflect the last of the sun's rays. As quick as the tail reached the surface, it vanishes beneath the wave.


The waves flood my ears with the sound of the sea. I feel my mind empty itself of muck and dust. I feel my hand twitching and reaching, and without another moment of hesitation, I turn and head back home.


My desk greets me with a warm and amiable welcome, for the shackles have been, at last, removed.


For the first time in five years, the pen is heavy like iron against my fingertips, and I write my first words.


"The pen is mightier than the sword when the writer yielding it feels the weight of the iron weapon; when they do not, it is just a pen."



Copyright ©️ 2020 Daniela Sylmae. All rights reserved.

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