Harold tapped lightly on the door and waited, knowing better than to enter Julia’s study unannounced. And he waited and waited. There was a faint clicking sound from inside the room, the laptop keys no doubt but no response to enter. Hesitant to knock again he decided to wait a little while longer. The light lunch he had prepared was accompanied with a small glass of sparkling wine, Julia’s favorite. Drawing in a breath he tapped again and grimaced involuntarily as Julia bellowed.
“What the hell do you want now, Harold? I’m busy.”
“I’ve brought you some lunch – you should eat.”
A huffing sound was followed by footsteps and the door opening. Underneath Julia’s eyes were dark circles and her hair was lank against her neck. Harold stepped forward with the tray in his hands.
“You must eat, Julia, you’ve been in there for two days now.”
“Two days? Surely not.”
“I’ve taken away several trays of food my dear. Why don’t you come downstairs for a while? Maybe have a shower and a walk around the garden?”
Julia’s mouth opened and closed obviously undecided on what to do. Julia swayed and put her hand out to steady herself. Harold quickly placed the tray on the side table and encircled Julia’s waist.
“Come, my dear, you need to rest for a while. I’ll run you a nice bath while you eat and then you can have a nap.”
“I do feel rather light headed and all of a sudden I’m ravenous. Thank you, dear.”
Harold guided his wife to the large bay window overlooking the garden and then returned with her lunch.
“Shall I run your bath now, Julia?”
“Let me finish this wonderfully prepared lunch first, Harold, thank you. I may need to take that nap before my bath.”
Harold sits opposite his wife as she hungrily consumes her lunch in silence. She looks so tired and he notices her skin is very pale. Her writing is frenzied – an obsession that cannot be tamed – she is its slave.
“Thank you, Harold, you look after me so well. I will sleep now and have a bath later.”
“As you wish, my dear, let me take the tray. I have closed the bedroom curtains and turned down the covers. Do you need me to wake you at a particular time?”
“No I don’t think so, dear, you think of everything.”
As Harold closes the bedroom door he hears Julia’s breathing relax – she had fallen asleep really quickly. He returns to the study and sits at her writing desk and begins to read. Julia would be infuriated if she knew he was reading her manuscript before it was finished. But the world she had created was so spell binding he couldn’t help himself. It had been pure chance that he had glanced at the first chapter – it had gripped his imagination and now he needed to know more. The pile of papers beside her laptop showed him that Julia had written numerous chapters over the last couple of days. He would immerse himself in the story until he heard movement from the room next door.
Julia smiled in her sleep transported to her imaginary world, the characters as real to her as anyone in the ‘real’ world. These invented people guided her through the story leading her to situations and resolutions she would not have believed or thought of herself. She had left them for a while but once refreshed she would go back – their lure like a magnet – an irresistible force.