Erasmus looked through the silken glass at the best seller’s shelf, ‘The Dreamer’s Stagnant Poise’, a new book by Dr. Randall Bay. There was something about it that called him to it, asking him to give it a read, to stroke and feel each page, and swallow every word and make it a part of him. Another side of him taunted him strongly, to leave it and just walk off, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
He knew what the book was about. It was a novel about a wealthy middle-aged man overflowing with talent who always fell short of complete expression of his innate gifts because of his addiction to dreaming about the future.
‘Sir, why don’t you come on in, it’s getting pretty itchy outside with this heat’, the book store teller urged Erasmus in. There wasn’t much on Erasmus’ schedule for the day anyway, he toddled his way in slowly, a part of him pulling him away, the major part of him submitting to curiosity.
Erasmus thought to himself, book stores smell really good, one of those places you could spend time at even if you didn’t want much to do with books. Erasmus tried his best to stay away from ‘The Dreamer’s Stagnant Poise’, pretending to himself that he could find some other book in the store that would make him forget all about Dr. Bay’s new hit.
He eyed the bookseller with contempt and irritation, wondering why he catered to his welcome.
To add to his battle between curiosity and ignorance, a very unwanted voice came ringing in from behind as Erasmus made his way through the other shelves of fiction. ‘You might want to have a look at this one sir, it’s been selling like mistletoe during Christmas’, the book store owner was now standing near the bestseller shelf, pointing at ‘The Dreamer’s Stagnant Poise’. Erasmus would never understand his weakness to the suggestion of strangers he sincerely wanted to ignore. He walked up to the bestseller shelf and picked up the book of conflict.
Without having a second look at the cover of the book, he paid the man, collected his receipt, and headed off out into the burning sting of summer walking home as quickly as he could.
It didn’t take him much time to finish the first ten chapters. Calvin the protagonist of the book was a gifted pianist who wasted twenty of the best years of his life in doubt, never expressing his skills to properness because of his endless fear of failure. Calvin was now forty, with all the wealth in the world he could imagine, running successful businesses for which he cared too less to hoard or be proud of. Calvin was a broken man, with a wife he dreamed of abandoning every night and a daily routine he loathed as much as his involuntary fear of failure.
The tears rolled all too easily onto the pages of ‘The Dreamer’s Stagnant Poise’. What had Erasmus done wrong? What had he done so wrong that he was left with nothing but an empty hollow within him that filled itself with uncomfortable adrenaline every time he read or heard of the success of his peers?
As he flung his newly purchased book across the floor, he buried his face in his palm and sobbed. What had he done so wrong that he was left looking forward to nothing but the embarrassment and failure of the friends he involuntarily loathed? Randall Bay was nothing at all before the monumental talent that Erasmus was. He was a man who identified perhaps a couple of skills and a few moments from his life that he worked into two of the best-selling novels in the last two years. There was no soul in these novels, but there was enough sweetness, charm, and conflict that would excite a million readers.
Randall was one of Erasmus’ closest friends. He had known him since he was eighteen. And now Erasmus was forty. While Erasmus was ever more skilled and gifted than Randall, Randall wrote, while Erasmus dreamed. He dreamed of what to write, and how to write. He did write, those rare few lines that carried power and magic, but few lines every three months or so. Erasmus dreamed, while Randall wrote. While the world read and entertained themselves to the technically crafted artwork of Randall Bay, the bitter tears that graced the pages of ‘The Dreamer’s Stagnant Poise’ remained to be the only testament to the once possible alternate fate of Erasmus Slade, a gifted writer who dreamed of many words, but wrote too few.