Thirty Days of Solitude
There were two things Wesley Greene was afraid of. The first was car washes- they were too loud and he didn’t like the flashing lights. The other thing was people trying to contact him.
Wesley didn’t know why people were so anxious to talk to him. The UPS man would try to strike up a conversation about the weather, men in black suits would ask if he knew the Lord and Saviour, and his sister left a dozen messages on the answering machine each week. It was exhausting. Not to mention his inbox. It was filled with hundreds of emails from his publisher asking if he had finished the manuscript yet. Wesley didn’t have the heart to reply back and confess that he spent hours staring at a blank document cursing his empty brain.
There was too much noise in the world and he couldn’t focus. Every day when he turned on the TV, the news blared loudly and advertisements with bright lights told him to buy an exercise machine.
Fools, he thought, I don’t even exercise.
It was on a bleak Tuesday morning that Welsey made the decision to cut himself off from humanity. He had been staring into his bowl of soggy cornflakes, trying to come up with a story idea, when his TV suddenly turned out. He jumped in surprise and clutched his chest.
“You stupid thing!” Wesley bellowed, his chair screeching across the floor as he jumped to his feet. The TV plug was ripped out of the wall and the house fell silent. The quiet was broken seconds later when Wesley heaved the TV through the front door. It sailed through the air and landed by a bunch of hostas in the overgrown garden.
The mailman who had almost gotten hit by the flying appliance trotted up the driveway. His hands were shaking so violently that he almost dropped the stack of envelopes. Wesley ripped them out of the mailman’s hands and quickly flipped through them. Bills, fliers, Indian men trying to steal his credit card; nothing interesting except for a thick manila envelope with the postmark from Toronto.
He tore the envelope open and pulled out a packet of forms. It was from his publishing company, requesting that he send his manuscript before March 2020 or else the publishing deal would be terminated. He had thirty days before he would lose his job.
He stuffed the papers back in the envelope and promptly dropped them into the garbage bin. “Good riddance,” Wesley spat, slamming the door shut.
He paced the living room for several minutes, stewing over what happened. I don’t want to lose my job, so I need to get this stupid book written. But I can’t do that when the only thing I hear is noise from outside.
“I’ve had enough with people. I don’t care about them, I don’t need them, and I don’t want them. From this day forward, I vow to not speak to another person until my book is finished.” Wesley nodded twice, content with his decision, and walked into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of wine. It was only a little past nine in the morning but that was beside the point. He needed to celebrate.
Two hours later and half a bottle gone, Wesley peeled himself off the kitchen chair and entered his office. He sat down on the swivel chair and turned on his computer. It opened up to the empty document from before. And then he started to write. Or rather, he liked to pretend he wrote and hadn’t fallen down an internet rabbit hole YouTubing cello covers.
That continued on for three days. Three days of solitude, blissful silence, and zero words written.
By the fourth day, Wesley resorted to banging his head against the wall in an effort to dislodge an idea. It resulted in nothing but a blistering headache and a red spot on his forehead.
On Sunday he rolled out of bed at eleven, hungover and tired. Wesley trudged to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He stepped under the frigid water, fully closed, and squeezed his eyes shut. Why does my brain refuse to work? If inspiration was alcohol I would be overflowing.
Wesley stood under the spray, watching the water swirl down the drain. Suddenly, he was hit with a wave of ideas. What if he wrote a story about a circus that was secretly an underground drug ring? It was different from his normal stories, science fiction thrillers, but this idea had potential. It was new and fresh and might pull him out of the creative rut.
He jumped out of the shower and dried himself off with a rumpled towel laying on the tile floor. The man ran to his office, bursting with new ideas for the plot and characters. His hand couldn’t keep up with his mind and the words were spilling off the page in incomplete sentences. Ink smeared on the paper and not before long the notebook was filled with scribbled notes and small character sketches.
Wesley was too busy to notice that dinner had come and gone; he hadn’t looked up from his desktop until the sun had sunken behind the highrises and small stars were appearing in the darkening sky.
Taking a small break to eat a bagel, the hyped-up man paced the length of the kitchen waiting for the coffee to finish. His fingers were itching to let the words loose. Rinsing a mug out in the sink, he poured steaming black coffee and added some cream.
Wesley hurried back to the office, his bathrobe flapping behind him. He cracked his knuckles, opened up the empty document, and started writing.
The next five hours were glorious. He churned out page after page, only stopping to take a sip of his cold coffee. The words were flowing and Wesley missed the feeling of exhilaration and breathlessness that came with working on a new project.
He didn’t sleep at all that night, writing until the mid-morning before exhaustion stopped him from starting another chapter. His eyes burned from staring at the bright screen for so long, but Wesley didn’t care. It was like his life was back together. He was writing again and nobody was bothering him, it couldn’t get better than this.
Wesley collapsed on his bed and promptly fell fast asleep.
Over the next two weeks, Wesley turned into a night owl, preferring to work all night and sleep during the day. He stopped bothering to delete the messages on his answering machine and let the mail pile up on the doorstep. It was all junk anyway.
But soon enough, Wesley saw the hitch in his plan. He was running out of food and he wasn’t about to venture out into the world. The only thing left was a freezer-burned loaf of bread and some Nutella, but he could live off of that. After all, he was more than halfway done with his novel.
Wesley didn’t budge from his desk chair for two solid days. His desk had become a sea of crushed energy drink cans and empty coffee mugs. “It’s a good thing I’m not going outside, I look like a crazy person,” he muttered to himself, pushing his overgrown hair out his eyes and stroking the stubble on his jaw. Grey bags hung heavy under his bloodshot eyes.
Wesley turned back to his computer. Fingers flying fast across the keyboard, he could feel the blood pumping hard in his chest. It was almost the peak of the climax, everything depended on this moment.
How can I make the characters react to the antagonist’s death? Well, Timothée would probably cry and scream, Francine would cackle, and Maria would- his train of thought was interrupted by the furious knocking on the door.
Groaning, Wesley ignored the pounding on the door. Or at least he tried too, but the visitor was persistent and started holding down on the doorbell.
“Stupid people.” He got up from his desk, muscles aching from sitting for so long. Hurrying down the hallway, Wesley skirted a pile of dirty dishes laying on the floor and opened the door a couple of inches.
“What do you want?” he growled through the crack.
“Excuse me sir, but can you open the door please?” A deep muffled voice came from the other side.
Two uniformed police officers stood on his front porch, ankle-deep in envelopes and newspaper. They both had blue gloves on and a medical mask. “Thank you. Your sister requested that we do a welfare check on you. She was concerned that you might have caught Covid-19 and died.”
Wesley snorted. “Is this some kind of joke? What’s Covid-19 and since when as Wendy cared about me?”
“I know these are unprecedented times, but we have to work together and socially distance. Here, take a brochure on the proper ways to wash your hands and when to wear a mask.” One of the officers produced a folded pamphlet from his jacket pocket and handed it to Welsey. He took it and gave the paper a quick scan.
Since when had the world descended into panic and chaos? There was not only forest fires, sickness, but a whole revolution in America. This would make a great book plot. Wesley chuckled to himself. “So this is actually happening, it isn’t a prank?”
The two officers nodded. “We require a two-week quarantine if you get sick, and try your best to stay in your house instead of visiting friends and family.”
Wesley was befuddled. He had to stay inside against his own free will? That wasn’t right.
“I’m sorry sir,” the police officer gave him a bottle of hand sanitizer and a couple of medical masks, “but this is the new normal. Have a nice day.”
“You too,” Wesly murmured and shut the door. He leaned against the wall and started laughing. “They want to keep me locked up inside, expect me to wear these stupid pieces of cloth on my face, and not visit family, well those police officers are in for a surprise. Watch out world, Wesley Greene is on the warpath.”
He tugged on a pair of crocs, flung open the front door, and stepped outside, breaking his thirty days of solitude.
I had to write this story for school, and liked it so much I decided to share it with you. The story prompt was 2020 themed, so that’s why there’s the mask wearing dudes. Oh how far the ‘rona’s influence has spread.
Have a lovely day.