I didn’t end up here by accident. You don’t choose to relocate you entire life in an instant without giving things a bit of thought. Back in LA, everyone knew me, everyone was expectantly waiting for the new book. They all had so may questions and so may suggestions. I needed to get out. I chose Melbourne because it was so far away and I had a friend here I was hoping to run into. Arriving here and doing some searching revealed that she was now married and I found myself at the other end of the phone making up a lie about how I needed to skip town the very same night. I was going to meet Allison in Melbourne, rekindle a past flame. I was still being 24. Allison, who was much older than I, and decidedly more wiser had detected something in my voice and had pressed for a meeting. I declined, I said I would come back to Melbourne in a few weeks and we would catch up then. But I never left. I sat idly in dingy back packer apartments and cafés reminiscing and creating new characters for my book. And for a while, I seemed to be making progress.
My character, the advertising guy, I cast him as a fun loving happy person. He was impressing clients, bosses and even the right women. The pages were coming along nicely and I was starting to weave a plot of how this guy would help a record store that he visited come out from bankruptcy. It was going to be a serious book, a literary marvel of our times… Ive always wanted a book review to say that about my work. As you can probably tell, I quite the dreamer.
But a few weeks ago, when I sent the working draft to my agent, he suggested I come back to LA. The book was not looking good. He wanted me to continue with the Young Adult genre and I was desperately trying not to retread old ground. It was too painful to create a new 18 year old and give him a happy life when at 24, I suddenly had started to consider myself a failure. And besides, what is this absurd liking for happy endings anyway? Why do people expect a happy ending when in life, clearly, they are so rare? Show me the Hollywood movie that honestly talks about 27 weddings where a woman is depressed because she is always the bridesmaid and never the bride and trust me, in real life… she whould have been dead by wedding number five. Seriosuly, if your 27 friends have all been married and chosen you as a bridesmaid, you are pretty much forgiven for shooting youself in the head.
My routine at the Morrocan café is always the same. I come here at around mid-afternoon. Order a large mocha, pull out my laptop and stare at my screen. Soon, I get bored, order a muffin or a second mocha and start surfing the net, reading about different topics. I was reading about Jewish customs last week and about crop circles and mysticism yesterday. There is no set pattern, im looking for research.
By mid week, because the university is in full session, the crowd in the café is typically slim. This has meant that Erika, the waitress here has started to chat me up. She studies psychology at the university and is attractive enough. I told her I was a writer during our first conversation and I have avoided mentioning what books. I don’t want her to know, I don’t want anyone to know. Mebourne is a place for new beginnigns. She is curious what I’m writing and I think she fancies she could be my muse. She is sweet and I’m surprised she takes interest. I wonder if she could perhaps be one of my chracters, maybe she is merely friendly and im imprinting these chracteristics on her.
You see how messed up I am? I can’t even imagine why people will be nice to me anymore.
A woman walks in, she is wearing a tight black leggings and a white jaket, a black… wait for it… hat. She also has shades. Wait, when did I end up in Paris? She is dressed in luxury and carrying an expensive looking Louis Vuitton bag. She smiles at Erika who, judging by her jovial greeting clearly knows the woman intimately. Not a new customer then, she must be a regular. She takes a seat in a table across from me, places her order and is soon lost with her phone. Im still trying to get over the hat which she has now placed on the table.
Im terrible at placing a womans age, but I guess early thirties. She looks up and finally notices me which is my cue to look away and pretend to start writing. Moments later when I look up, she is doig the same, she has her laptop out and is typing away.
‘The mysterious woman in the café’
I stare at the words and every criticism I have ever heard about my writing comes lashing out at me like a whip. I close my laptop in a sudden rage and call Erika to get my cheque. This is still not my day.
‘Write anything today Adam?’ Erika asks as she hands me the bill.
‘No. A few ideas, but nothing good’
‘Well, see you again tomorrow!’
When Erika does that, make tomorrow sound cheerful and hopeful, I hate her. What is there to like about tomorrow? Didn’t Scarlette O’Hara always put her miseries and worries for tomorrow? Tomorrow is like the bastard child no one should want to talk about. Nothing good happens… ‘tomorrow’ Yet, I smile and leave. Through the entire interaction, the woman at the table didn’t stop typing even for a moment. For some reason, this bothers me.