The Perils of a 21st Century Writer

“Wow this, keyboard is sure dusty. I’m sure I need to spend at least ten minutes cleaning it before I start in on this assignment.”
Eliza sent off her text to Teri, then tweeted her observation and, just for good measure, stuck it up on Tumblr after finding the perfect gif.
“Are you working on your essay yet?” Teri texted back half an hour later.
“Just getting started”
“Turn off wifi and mute your phone.”
Teri always had the best advice.
Eliza stared at the blank document in front of her. Write, just write. The last time she’d written an essay was almost ten years ago. This going-back-to-school thing had seemed like such a good idea, but now that she had to buckle down and write and study, everything was much more real. The kids were in bed; now was prime time to write this essay.
Her mind wandered to the pile of dirty clothes in the bedroom hamper. Were there enough socks for everyone tomorrow? Black socks are essential when you only wear black pants to work. Would anyone notice, really, if she wore blue socks instead? Or brown? Come to think of it, those might be dirty too. Eliza’s fingers paused on the keyboard. Should she go check her drawer just to make sure that her only remaining pair weren’t fuzzy purple socks? No. Keep writing.
Eliza’s phone buzzed. She had managed to mute it, but the vibrate was still on. Her hand reached to her pocket and glanced at the screen. It showed an email from her local thrift store advertising a 40% off dishware sale.
Cursing herself for having checked something so irrelevant, she moved the phone across the room and resumed her place at the desk. Type, type, type. She checked how many words she’d written and sighed. Across the room, her phone buzzed again. How could vibrate be so loud? She tried to focus, knowing that it was likely to be another spam email or possibly a retweet of her oh-so-hilarious observation on keyboard cleaning.
But maybe it was Nick, texting to say he’d be home early or late or asking if she wanted him to pick up milk on the way home. She refused to get up off her chair; instead, she rolled it over to the table and checked her phone.It was a retweet, and a response, even! Someone had added “This is so me!” while quoting her tweet. Breathing slowly in and out, she resumed her place and typed for another fifteen minutes.
“Mommy! Mommy” called a sleepy voice from the kids’ room and Eliza sighed. Her own distractions and procrastinations were one thing, but the kids could not be blamed for distracting her. Nora was awake. She needed a drink of water, then to use the bathroom. Then, ten minutes after seeming to be asleep, she called again, this time needing her covers pulled back up after kicking them all to the foot of her bed.
Eliza yawned and stretched. Clearly it was time for a pick me up. Coffee was probably the best solution for tonight; tea just wasn’t going to cut it and she was not into the energy drinks her younger classmates guzzled. She put the kettle on to boil and spooned the grounds into the french press. Her travel mug was dirty, so that would have to be washed. There would be no repeating of the keyboard-coffee incident.
After the coffee was poured, she set it beside her computer and leaned back to snap a photo, tagging it with #latenightstudying and #nofilter before putting it up on Instagram.
Seriously now, Eliza thought. Let’s do this.

a warm welcome

I stare out into the snow, falling like fat chunks of cloud and covering everything in sight. The snowflakes make it hard for me to see if you are coming.

I am anxious, wondering if our spells worked, if our excited incantations and mysterious recipes have called up the magic that will bring you here to me this night.

Everything is ready; the tea is brewed, the fire roars in grate, the afghan is warmed. The chill of winter’s night cannot steal you away once you are inside.

I see a figure plow through the drifts towards the patch of light cast from my window. My heart rises to my throat. Several minutes later, there is a knock at my door.

I open it. You are here at last, I say, smiling as warmly as your surroundings. You take off your coat, your boots, shake the snow from your hair. You are relieved to have found me.

I offer you the best armchair, the one nearest the fire. The tea steams as you pour it. You settle in, letting the blanket surround you, the chair enfold you. The spells are working. You are comfortable.

I hold my breath a moment; now is the moment.

You turn to me and say, “This is almost perfect. All we need is a good story.”

The web is complete. The trap snaps shut. You are mine.