Time: 15 minutes
Prompt: "This man follows me everywhere with nothing but his goatskin parchment and writes incessantly."
Source: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Sometimes I have this dream—not always when I'm asleep, neither—I have this dream where this man follows me everywhere with nothing but his goatskin parchment and writes incessantly. He just writes and writes and he follows me around and then he disappears.
I had the dream this morning and I wasn't asleep. I was loading river rock from where the dump truck left it for a landscaping job out on the East side. I was loading it into a wheelbarrow and I looked up and there was the guy with the parchment. He was just leaning against a fir tree, writing. Writing on his dirty old piece of parchment and looking over at me now and then.
So I said to him—and it weren't the first time I tried talking to him even though he never answers—I said, "That parchment of yours has gotta be about used up by now," and then I said, "What are you writing, anyway?" And at first I thought he would ignore me and just fade away into thin air like he'd always done before, or just keep writing. I scooped up another shovel of river rocks from the pile, but then he talked and I put the shovel down.
He said, "Yes, Casey, the book is nearly complete—nearly full."
"So you can talk," I said. "My dream can talk."
And he said, "I'm not your dream, Casey," and I said he had to be my dream or my hallucination or something 'cause nobody else had seen him and he appeared and disappeared and sometimes I saw him when I was asleep and if he wasn't my dream then what the hell was he and he said, "I'm your chronicler."
"What the hell do I need a chronicler for? I'm nobody important." Even though I didn't think he was real, I wanted him to know that I knew the word chronicler, because he acted like he thought I might not know it and if he was chronicling my life, he ought to know that I knew a lot of stuff. I finished school and I read a lot of books, so I have a big vocabulary even if I don't talk like I do so as to not sound pretentious around other folk. And I knew something else.
I knew that as long as he only used words I knew, he might still be my dream or my hallucination, so I tried to keep him talking and I listened real close, cause he'd got my attention. Got me listening. When he said the thing about the book being nearly complete. Thinking about that after he said he was my chronicler, well that kind of made me nervous.
"So what happens when you finish the book?" I said.
[about my timed writing exercises]