He tapped the pencil against the empty coffee mug. The one his sister gave him from a trip to Puerto Rico with her husband. It was blue and chipped on one side. Perfect, he thought when he chipped it. As a right-handed artist, he always grabbed his coffee mug with his left hand while sketching. The chip was strategically placed on the opposite side of where his lips sipped. The image of the orange sunset stared at him as he raised the mug of black and terribly sweet coffee for an added boost of inspiration. Yet, it didn’t come. The inspiration didn’t magically appear as it had so many times before.
It was easy to be inspired. For him, walking to the grocery store, watching a movie or hearing a song added elements to half-cooked concoctions of art in his mind. Once he realized what was missing, the ability to paint, sketch and create came without effort. This is why he loved his art.
He got up from his desk to close the window. It was starting to get cold outside. The tall, athletically built man always looked capable of so much and few pinned him for artistic quality until they found him behind a brush. He walked around his small apartment, pulled out the silver-colored hair tie and shook his head. “C’mon, now. You got this.”
There wasn’t a deadline besides his desire to create. Tonight, though, tonight this was going to be a little more difficult than other pieces made during the bewitching hour. Then a song started. “Oh, God it’s raining, but I’m not complaining, it’s filling me up with new life…”
Magic. His pencil stood on its lead tip and he watched it dance in front of him on a blank sheet of thick sketching paper. It danced to the beat of the heavily syncopated synth-pop rhythms of the ‘80s. What he thought, emerged on the sketch pad and without touching the dancing pencil, he felt the bumps and grooves of the tiny fibers that made up his canvas for the night. “The stars in the sky bring tears to my eyes. They’re lighting my way tonight…”
The intricacies of the pencil on the tablet formed details he wasn’t even focused on creating yet. His mind was not set on the tiny pieces, though the black lead took its own initiative to create the shapes he saw. He felt the loss of control. “The moon is shining in the sky, reminding me of so many other nights, but not like tonight…”
The song ended. The pencil stopped its swirling dance. He stared at what he created. He turned the pencil upside down and erased a few errors his eyes caught. The creation was not what he was thinking about. The shading, the outline, the details were all wrong. He had been back-stabbed by his inspiration.
He tied his hair back in a tight pony-tail at the nape of his neck. He had no words for what he felt.
Hours had passed without a creative thought in his mind and when it finally happened, it disappointed him. He grabbed the blue mug with his right hand, the chip on the side where he would drink from. From the corner of his kitchen, he grabbed a box of sugar cubes and threw eight in his mug. The ninth he tossed in the back of his mouth, the corners and edges cut into the roof of his mouth as he begins to suck on the cube. “You’re going to rot your teeth,” his mom would tell him when she saw him sneak a cube on his way out to skateboard. The crystals boosted his ambition, but somehow, it didn’t work tonight.
He poured the coffee in the mug over the sugar slowly in order to watch them melt into the black mud, drowning with his incapacitated inspiration.