Here’s another piece for the #300DaysofFlashWriting challenge, where participants write for ten minutes only on a prompt posted online by my friend Shekina on her blog and social channels. This was written from the Day 6 prompt, ‘Furniture’.
Haunted, He Wrote
He didn’t know that the desk was haunted when he bought it.
He found it on the top floor of the antiques centre, nestled between a baroque dresser and a faded art deco wardrobe. Huge, rectangular, sturdy, old. A subtle sheen to the worn red-brown grain. Three drawers with elaborately carved knobs. The desk looked out of place in the shop; it should have been in a panelled study in a stately home. The woman who ran the shop gave him a look when he handed over the cash, but didn’t say anything.
He installed it in the spare bedroom, throwing out years of accumulated junk to create a study of his own. Books were drafted on that desk – stories of serial killers and hardened detectives, of monsters and demons, of rogue assassins and robots. He was delighted with the variety his imagination spewed forth; he had never before felt inclined to stray from his usual works of dull, middling literary fiction that didn’t sell particularly well. This new direction pleased his agent and publisher and he grew rich, taking the desk with him as his family moved into ever bigger properties.
As he grew into old age, he felt the desk start to pull at him. There was no other way to describe it; he would be in the kitchen or in bed and then suddenly feel the urge to sit at his desk, even though he was writing less the slower his brain became as he approached eighty.
One day, he was trying not to nod off at the desk when the pull became more insistent.
“What do you want?” he asked in his now querulous voice, not expecting an answer
He could have sworn that the desk whispered back. He hunched over it, bringing his left ear to the surface.
“Say it again? Please?”
Close your eyes. Go to sleep.
The man straightened up again and looked suspiciously at the desk. Then he realised that he really did feel tired.
He laid his head down on the desk and went to sleep for the last time, his life force spilling into the desk, where it joined countless other occupants to take up residence in the warm grain of the wood.
Six months later, the desk was back in the antiques centre. A twenty-something woman bought the desk, and was surprised when she suddenly felt the urge to write dull, middling literary fiction.
© 2021 Dipika Mummery