I have good reason to be ticked at Hemingway.
Kneeling in front of the airtight last week, I caught a flash of black to my left. Duc le Chat came out of nowhere and batted a ball towards me. I twisted in response, reached back to the left and stretched with all my might. Too fast. Too far. Too late…pop!
After treatment, the Physiotherapist told me I could not sit – only stand or lie down. I realized I would have to write standing up. Suddenly, I morphed into Ernest Hemingway.
However, if that booze-swilling, self-centered, cantankerous and demanding Hemingway could write standing up, I decided it was time to figure out what was so danged great about it.
I put my laptop on a stool that sits atop a decorative desk at the bay window of my living room. This means I’ve moved from a measly peek out a door’s window to a glorious vista encompassing 180 degrees of nature.
As I write, a float plane rises over a harbour filled with brilliant sunshine. Windows of homes perched on rocks across the harbour twinkle in response to a day that lures islanders outside to clean yards, burn debris, get in a sail and enjoy a latte alfresco.
Where’s my disciplined armour against distraction?
My neighbour, one of the members of the Grapes of Wrath, watches his clippings burn which tempts me to run out and add old branches to his fire. “You must lift nothing,” the Physio had warned.
Cloud formations, full of contrast and texture, move with meditative invitation. I’d like to move my woodpile with as much grace and haul my airtight’s next supply to rest conveniently outside the sliding window. “Either stand or lie, no heavy anything.”
A cacophony of crows sound like politicians at a session in parliament. I work at concentrating as I stand like Ernest Hemingway, plunking on the keys. Then I notice my neighbour heading out for her walk. A light goes on – no wonder Ernest faced a blank wall.
That insensitive, unfaithful, elusive, demand-agent likely shut out the world. He could. There were others who worried about life for him.
Okay, it must be obvious. I’m avoiding disclosure of a major resentment I have toward Ernest Hemingway. I’ll get honest…
Four years ago, a respected psychic said I incarnated very quickly. I died in the 1920s and came into this current life in the 1940s – apparently atypically.
A tall, slim, svelte, black-haired, British beauty, I attended functions where I photographed the rich and famous in London during the early 1900s. The psychic described my previous incarnation, “With a drink in one hand and a long cigarette holder in another, wearing elbow-length black-satin gloves, you watched for opportunities to shoot the glories that would appeal to, and pacify, the crème de la crème of London.”
However, I began an affair with the wrong man. I fell hopelessly in love. His unavailability went beyond his marital status. His imminent return to America forced me to ignore telltale signs of his over-indulgance in most pleasures. I wanted him in my life. I decided to express my love in writing.
I laboured over perfect wording. After all, he was a writer. I chose the finest paper, used a delicately nibbed pen with azure-blue ink and emptied my heart in my best handwriting.
I was late arriving at the prescribed gathering. Bursting with eagerness, I spotted my love across the crowded ballroom entertaining a circle of guests. Flailing his arms and ignoring the splashes from his drink, he appeared to be telling a story. The group looked entranced. Suddenly they broke into laughter. I quickly took advantage of the moment and slipped in beside him. I thrust my letter into his hand and whispered into his ear, “This is for later, darling.”
After photographing a number of keen-to-be-seen people, I heard my lover’s voice roar above the din, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been gifted with the most astonishing news. But as most of you are bored with my words by now, let me read the ones presented to me.”
I saw him teeter as he stepped up onto a small platform. I reached for my drink, happy to have a break from photography.
I choked as this man minced, mocked and maimed the words I’d carefully crafted – meant only for him. Through tears, I saw a blur of faces turning my way. I set down my drink, stubbed my cigarette, left my camera and raced for the exit.
I never took another photograph. Instead I drank myself into an alcoholic stupor, lived in a hovel of filth and disrepair, broke out in bodily sores and died of alcoholic poisoning only months later.
“Now, Amy,” the psychic said. “Write this story. It will release tentacles of torture that have carried into this lifetime.”
I began to research dates, events, and people who would have been part of the rich and famous in London during that time. My instincts told me the “writer” was Ernest Hemingway. When I researched his life, comings and goings, marriages and travels, it seemed to fit. I read different biographies of his life. Descriptions of his personality and behaviour were so familiar, I felt I could have written those books.
So, Ernest Hemingway, as I grow tired, standing as I write, I want to declare before this glorious vista in my alcohol-free life, with not a whiff of cigarette smoke in my home, with my camera close by, “I forgive you. I forgive you, I forgive you!”
“But, Ernest, please know…you’re lucky I didn’t run into you this lifetime. I would have boxed your ears!”
“And another thing? It’s no big deal to write standing up. Something more important happens to be the big deal. I just might be able to declare my love to a man before this lifetime runs out.”