Let Her In or Let Her Go by F. MacKenzie
When writing calls, answer her immediately.
Stop whatever you are doing. Drop your science notes, shut off your phone, draw the blinds closed, and lock the door.
Pick up the receiver, cling on the handset like a lifeline, and have a conversation with her. Scribble on the nearest thing you can get your hands on — the back of a yellowing receipt, the crooked margins on your essay, the note pinned on your corkboard with the list of things you have yet to finish.
And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to be late for work or if it’s a lesson you should be paying attention to or if you’re in the middle of the crowd bopping around “Shake It Off.”
Cut yourself off from reality and take up her call, even if she just wants you to hang out with one of your ghosts.
When writing tears through the parties you didn’t invite her to, wearing the dress that doesn’t match yours, give her your most beautiful smile and be her best escort. Dance with her in the slow songs and shout with her when she sings the lyrics to punk rock music. Trade her your cake and ice cream for her stories.
Sure, there’s always a possibility that your friends will hate you for it. You’re in the counter with a ballpen you’re trying to pen in her ilk while they’re playing the card game or pouring themselves shotglasses of beer. But at the end of the night, when you do exactly what she whispers in your ears, writing will leave you with a peck on the cheek and a set of words you’d wish you could tattoo on your ribs. Your friends will be left with a hangover in the morning while you will have in your palms a masterpiece.
When she taps you on the shoulder while you’re in the cereal aisle wearing pajamas, a worn shirt, and a pair of sleepy eyes, turn around and face her. Even if you already know she’s just going to jabber about how the weather changes the way your last girl friend’s feeling did, even if it’s just about how the glare of that saleslady triggered your anxiety, listen to her — and listen carefully. Put back the items into the shelf even though you wanted that cereal so bad for breakfast, and open your wallet where you still hide your ex’s photograph, and make a list of every word that flies out of her mouth. Ignore the man at the cashier staring at you like you’re a madman, talking to yourself in the middle of the store, nodding and mumbling words no one could fathom, and let the usual chatter around the grocery fade into a background noise.
Minutes later, you will realize that your hands are shaking the way they used to when your past lover held you. Her voice will echo once more just before it becomes completely inaudible. You will come back to your senses a blink after she leaves you breathless with poetry and power quivering between your fingers, behind the face of someone who has only loved you with leftovers.
And sure, your stomach will protest louder minute by minute, and you will look lost in that cubicle setting, but that’s fine. You can pay for that cereal now and wipe your palms on the soft fabric of your pants. Smooth the photograph and put it back to where it was once placed. Go home with a scar that has started bleeding again and poetry as both your blade and your bandage.
See, one thing I’ve learned about writing is that it’s never convenient. Inspiration doesn’t always pour along the rain hammering your roof. Sometimes, it creeps up on you while you’re coating your hair in shampoo or while waiting for the school bus to take you home. And the truth is, she is as disastrous and as unpredictable as a lightning that strikes in the middle of a heat-storm. You have to stop time for her. And it’s not easy knowing you might be missing something in reality while drunken in fiction and ink, but in the end, when you read the work you sacrificed your date or your lesson or you movie night for, you will realize that the time and the effort you give her is always worth it.
When she is not around, you can try to search for her in silence, in the aroma of your father’s favorite coffee, in the walk along the shore, but if she doesn’t want to be found, you’ll just be left with half-baked ideas and a pond of words.
So when she arrives, in any way, welcome her with a shiver in your spine and a warmth in your bones. Dissolve in her presence. Treat her like she holds your atoms intact, like she’s the reverent breath you’d take last in your deathbed. Treat her like she is your most loyal lover (because she is), even though sometimes she only leaves you bleeding in front of your computer or in the face of an empty sheet. Let her pierce through the muscles that house your very soul. Let her in the minute she knocks on your door, because if you waste a second hesitating, she will go.
And it’s only up to her deft, cryptic self when will she ever return.
Fransivan MacKenzie is a tiger princess who swallows words for a living. Just kidding! F. MacKenzie is a poet, a storyteller, and an aspiring novelist who has been playing the games of rhymes and deadly metaphors since she was six. She always scribbles poems in the margins of her essays, cries over medical dramas, and drowns her veins in coffee. She’s also a former thespian, a mental health advocate, and a bookworm who’s always torn between fiction and reality. More than anything else, she loves the sky, the rain, the open sea, and the magic of tales trapped in pages and ink.