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The Heartwood Factor

The sudden appearance of living tissue on the keyboard, especially near the enter key and the space bar was simultaneously disconcerting and reassuring.  She had always told him it would come to this, and he had, until this moment, not believed her.  At two in the morning, passing by the open doorframe to his office on her way to the bathroom, she only momentarily let her eyes meet his, and he was glad for that small mercy.

She had begun to think he was obsessed, and he had begun to think she was right.  These mornings, he’d wake up with this word or that phrase repeating itself, sometimes angrily and insistently, sometimes melodically, soothingly inside his head, sometimes tripping off his tonguetip, refusing to be denied.  Sometimes she called him Rainman.

This morning he’d slept as late as five, and he warmed up at the keyboard by writing about a strange living tissue suddenly appearing there, of undisclosed origin and of indiscernible type. This was, however, merely a finger exercise to keep him interested until the coffee kicked in; was only an idea that occurred to him as he headed down the hall toward the keyboard.

What interested him more, though, was the possibility of making something of those thoughts, those few ungraspable images that inevitably occurred (and just as inevitably faded) shortly before he fully woke, in that semi-lucid dream state on the border of his coffee and keyboard reality.

This morning, as best he could recall, those images had something to do with the possibility of combustion and the prevalence of heartwood in the cords stacked in four of five locations on the small riverside lot.  There had been a huge bonfire in the middle of a downpour, and the heartwood factor had not only kept the fire alive, but also protected those nearest the conflagration from even a hint of moisture. 

He knew, of course, even as he made the short walk from his bed to his office, that he would never be able to fully express his wonder at this phenomenon.  This was not because there was anything so marvelous about a fire in a rainstorm, but because there was clearly something different about this particular hard, red wood snapping and popping its way down to glowing embers in this specific torrent that made it impossible to express, even given the uncommon language he’d worked hard to acquire for just such occasions.

Instead, he settled himself in, stared off into the empty space of his own small lot by the river’s edge, and began to write about the sudden and disconcerting appearance of some kind of living tissue taking over his keyboard, writhing and squirming as he typed.  

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My words seem to writhe as I write them down with a pen. At the keyboard, I always thought of my fingers as two 'Pentapusses' making up a 'Decapus' - a kind of distant cousin of the Octopus. The two extra short thumb-like legs are handy for attacking the space bar. I guess my fingers do writhe as they write. I don't often watch them while they are typing. But after your post I see them in a different light... writhing away while I'm staring at the computer screen. Their writhing results in my writing.

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A vivid picture

You paint a vivid picture. Fire as shelter is I think one of our oldest and most comforting archetypes -- to tie that into new life appearing at the keyboard is perhaps a new archetype (a dream? a nightmare?) anyone who writes has probably struggled with.

Now if we could only encourage life at the keyboard to manifest into the muse....

-- Wen