The Midnight Writer
by Jarad Johnson
The Witching Hour. The dead of night. The middle of the night. Midnight evokes within the human imagination an endless source of fascination and dread. It is said that midnight (the time I’m writing this) is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest. What ghosts may come and tell me their haunting stories of the afterlife? What ghouls and phantoms shall visit me at this perilous hour? If you, like me, are just on the edge of slipping into the world of dreams, you may see something out of the corner of your eye. Was it a cat, a flash of light, or perhaps something more sinister? You may pull the covers just a little tighter, till the cold light of day reimposes logic into your mind.
Or, if you’re like me, you may yell out, “hi!” very loudly in hopes that the ghost will come have a cup of tea with you. After all, social distancing doesn’t apply to ghosts. They’re already dead! However, a ghost with a cold might be a danger and a terrific puzzle for the scientific community. But I digress. Tiredness has a way of doing that to me.
I often feel the urge to write at odd hours. Sometimes I wake up well before the sun makes its appearance, and I feel as though I must hash out a few phrases before Helios and his chariot steal my ideas with the golden dawn. Or, conversely, if I wake up late, and the sun is already out, I’d rather just go for a walk rather than waste more of the day. There are also times, like tonight, that I can’t sleep. I can be as exhausted as Atlas holding up the world, but my mind keeps turning. Then I start imaging little plot lines, adding to them, and creating characters. By then I’m tired, but if I go to sleep, I will have no idea what I thought of last night. This is why I never get anything done. My brain is nocturnal, but my body wants to sleep.
So, I must stay awake. I must write out my fantastic newest idea. I need to at least write out a general summary and then I’ll go to bed and finish it tomorrow. But wait! I must add to this, change that, and add a pinch of salt for flavor. Just after this last sentence, I will resign myself to the necessity of rest. I have to put something down, otherwise it’s gone forever. Fix a cup of tea; hell, fix several! Sleep is for mortals and those who aren’t in the liberal arts, like engineers or accountants. You know, boring people. People who have remunerative careers for which they must rise at a sensible hour. Writers must stay caffeinated enough to move their fingers across the keyboards, lest we risk our ideas slipping into the ether, and the time of day is of no consequence to the writing brain.
I continue to type furiously. I churn out a few pages, a few lines of dialogue, surrounded by empty teacups and a cat who is angry that I won’t turn off the light. Like the stereotypical Romantic poet, cooped up in his or her study to furiously scribble the next haunting line on the parchment. “Quoth the kitty, “Nevermore!””
I nodded off, dreaming of black cats upon the head of Pallas, warning me of some impending doom. The only doom I know of is to let such a gorgeous story go unwritten.
What was that noise? Some unearthly spirit must have come to enact mischief on me! They are loathe to see my story written! Perhaps it’s that one uncle who never liked me, or the other uncle who never liked me. Ah, it was only a bird.
My tiredness makes me write faster. Red lines appear all over my computer mimicking the red lines in my eyes. What a torture this story is! If only it would write itself and leave me out of it! I cannot bear the clacking of the keys any longer, I must stop!
By now, I see Helios and his chariot coming to steal my thoughts. The light of day never made for good storytelling anyhow. But alas, I must write! I must..write! I must……sleep…
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!