The Final Chapter

By-Shashank Reddy

A single ray of sunlight manages to sneak its way past the heavy, dust laden curtains. It travels past stacks of pizza boxes and cartons of used cigarettes, gently rounding past the bottles with their contents in various stages of completion, taking care not to touch the non-existent floor before gently settling on the man asleep in a corner. He lies on a couch, torn and tattered with the burden of holding him all these years. The man awakes, and gently takes in the room that is his home. He is average. Average of height, average of build, average of age and average of looks. Long, black, shaggy hair descends in waves from the top of his head till his shoulder. A haircut, he thinks. Then he remembers that whether he has long hair or not is inconsequential today, as is every other ritual that he has followed in his lifetime. There is only one thing left to do. The man finds his laptop lying on top of one of the great pizza towers, and boots it up.

His magnum opus lies before his eyes. 1084 pages of his life’s work. He considers himself a writer and has tried to become one, but apart from a few small magazines that published a few odd poems of his that no one bothered to read, luck has never really favored him. Manuscript after manuscript of his got rejected as he saw less talented writers making it big. Taking what is rightfully mine, he thought aloud. This will show them. This magnum opus of mine. Which throws open the world for the world to see. But first, there is something to finish. The final chapter of the book.

*

The man sat thinking about the last line, or the lack of it. His pizza box towers and used cigarette stubs drawn around him in a semi-circle. The last line to end his greatest piece. The greatest piece ever written, he thought. He thought back to his family and friends. The ones he had disconnected from his life, so that it was only words, his words that kept him company. Words he forced himself to write. 1084 pages worth of words. Words about a poet in search of his poem. Words about a singer finding his voice. And words about a writer in search of his life. And today is a new day, he writes. The last line. And today is a new day.

There is no need to revise the manuscript or edit it, he assures himself. It is perfect. He marches down to the corner printing shop, prints, binds and posts the book to the publisher. He knows it will be selected. He can feel it in his gut. His house again, the rope, the ceiling, the knot. It is all ready. It is a good day to die, he smiles. Death will arrive at 12:00 PM sharp. A good time to die. It hits 12. The knot is ready, the man is ready and death awaits in a corner with a smirk on his face. The writer gently climbs onto a chair, positions the knot around his neck, smiles at death and pushes the chair away. It is all a part of the soon to be legend.

The editor looks at 1084 pages in her hand. A tiny bead of sweat makes its way down her temple. She has a goldmine on her hands.

*

The man sat thinking about the last line, or the lack of it. His pizza box towers and used cigarette stubs drawn around him in a semi-circle. The last line to end his greatest piece. The greatest piece ever written, he thought. He thought back to his family and friends. The ones he had disconnected from his life, so that it was only words, his words that kept him company. Words he forced himself to write. 1084 pages worth of words. Words about a poet in search of his poem. Words about a singer finding his voice. And words about a writer in search of his life. And today is a new day, he writes. The last line. And today is a new day. His own words, taken from his own words.

There is no need to revise the manuscript or edit it, he assures himself. It is perfect. He marches down to the corner printing shop, prints, binds and posts the book to the publisher. He knows it will be selected. He can feel it in his gut. His house again, the rope, the ceiling, the knot. It is all ready. It is a good day to die, he smiles. Death will arrive at 12:00 PM sharp. A good time to die. It hits 12. The knot is ready, the man is ready and death awaits in a corner with a smirk on his face. The writer gently climbs onto a chair, positions the knot around his neck, smiles at death and pushes the chair away. It is all a part of the soon to be legend.

The editor looks at the 1084 pages in her hand. A tiny bead of sweat makes its way down her temple. She throws the bundle in the bin. The heat is unbearable.

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5 thoughts on “The Final Chapter

  1. Oooh, Shashank, this seems to be a goldmine waiting to be published! I loved it. I haven’t felt chills of this proportion after reading something since I read Roald Dahl’s Short Stories! Well done!
    One small typo, though. Shouldn’t “awakes” be “awakens”? [Para 1, Line 5]

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