The Room

TV in room

Every time I sit down to write, my hand reaches for the remote. I can’t help it, it is almost an instinctive reaction I have to blank pages awaiting eagerly to be filled with words. I wish I knew what it was that drives me to turn on that annoying TV. Although, on second thought, it seems only reasonable to expect that the straight and stiff lines on the paper might have a hard time competing for my attention against the lively images on the screen. But even when I try and force myself to turn my gaze away from the screen and back to the paper, I am faced with mutiny by the muscles of my neck.

I recently bought a larger TV screen to enjoy the cinematic experience at home. The problem is that now movie plots feel so real that I can’t watch anything even slightly upsetting if I want to be able to sleep at night. Writing is the only thing that helps when I have trouble distinguishing what is real from what is not.

I mostly write about the feeling of loneliness. After all, I am an expert on the topic, for I have spent my whole life on my own. However, it wasn’t until I lost my cat that I found out what feeling lonely actually meant. What a lovely cat he was. Unfortunately, he broke his spine while jumping down a staircase. If he had only used the handrail … I take solace in the fact that he never had to suffer deprivation and seemed to lead a happy life, so much so that, by the end of it, he looked more like an elephant than an actual cat, one who couldn’t but sit and listen to the news of my oneiric escapades through the desert on the back of a feral horse that played the piano beautifully and wouldn’t judge me.

The TV is on, again. It is screening pictures of rhinos, which is a peculiar animal in that it boasts a threatening physique, but has a kind look in its eyes. Kind of like the unicorn. I would know, for I have a special gift for discerning what looks mean. I change the channel. Another rhino. What are the chances? I change again. This time, I stumble on a weather forecast in Japanese. I turn the volume down and look back at the paper. I try writing, but the words seem stuck inside of me.

I insert a cowboy into the story, a cowboy and a sheriff. They throw themselves on my bed, open some cans of an unidentifiable greenish fluid and drain them. They don’t even bother to take off their dirty boots. That pisses me off, so I kick them out of the story. I change the channel and tune in to an Arabic soap opera. Before I know it, I have watched the whole series, one thousand and one episodes. The voices of the cowboy and the sheriff still linger in the background.

After that, right before buckling down on the task of writing the story of my life, I watch a horror film that has just started playing on the screen. It is about a chubby cold-hearted killer who likes to impale his victims. He bears a striking resemblance to that of a rhino.

Then, I turn my gaze to the paper once again, but this time, I actually start writing, and what I write is a story that I have been wanting to write down since I was a child, but never managed to get to it.

Who needs horror flicks given how horrifying real life is per se? The room suddenly fills up with ghosts from the past, each carrying some doodad that makes them recognizable: microphones, balloons, dolls, dishes, popcorn buckets, machine guns, … I try adding some cheerful soundtrack to the picture. They all start spinning to the music. The movie has turned into a visual and aural carnival. Heady atmospheres unsettle me. Hence, I decide it’s time to hit the sack. To make sure nothing disturbs me in my sleep, I take two pills, both blue, a muscle relaxant and a painkiller.


Written by Ahmed Abdelreheem.