the novelist

the war goes on. it happens all over. it happens on your street. that bombs fall in the night. that sirens wail and planes crash. crash so often that you no longer wake when they explode. and you no longer cry. and the dead are left out now. for the dogs and the children to play with. and a novelist lives on your block. in that big old house on the corner. you know, the old one, with shutters and gables and chimneys. that big old rooming house. the one that somehow has never been hit in an attack, so that it towers above the rubble now.

the novelist lives there, in a room by himself. writing by night. and each day, he goes out searching. searching and scavenging for paper. searching in empty lots, in trash cans. among the debris of burned-out houses. he writes on the back of old letters, in the margins of newspapers, on the inside of boxes. or sometimes, he writes in different colored inks, between the lines of pages he has already written on.

now, however. now that there is no paper left. not anywhere. not even scraps. no, the novelist has begun to write his novel on the walls of his single room. he has begun in the upper left-hand corner, by the ceiling. next to the window. he stands on a ladder. he writes with a pencil stub. he presses as softly as he can. he writes as small as possible.