written by Vita Lusty | illustrated by Carlos Brito
When I moved to Joshua Tree last year, I carried a dream of pounding out the remaining chapters to my book. The desert would give me time, silence and provide infinite space.
There was a block that came with the desert rain. The sand smelled like cinnamon. The mountains hid behind clouds. My computer was left untouched.
My finger snapped under a dog collar while breaking up a dogfight. I required surgery; two pins put my bone back together. A few weeks and I would be back to writing.
A young woman moved into our house. She rented a spare room for a couple hundred a month, and we bonded over cinnamon whisky, LSD and mutual flirtation. My mind was back on track, but my whole hand was still in a cast. Three weeks went by, then four. My bone wasn’t healing. I was still working at a pizza shop, still drinking and still smoking. I couldn’t bathe, cook or dress myself. It was the first time I was forced to ask for help as an adult.
My computer sat there on my desk. Quiet. Sad. Blank.
Some suggested voice-to-text software. “I don’t write that way,” I explained. They shrugged their shoulders as if it were an excuse. Words come out of my fingers differently than my throat. Sentences surprise me. Ideas are more organized. Words flow instead of spilling over each other.
Five weeks and then six. I stopped working. I stopped smoking and regularly took prenatal supplements and Vitamin D to encourage bone growth. The ideas weren’t draining from my cerebral pipeline. They were backing up, creaking and groaning like a broken bathroom sink. Buzzing into my shaggy head of hair and fleeing out of open windows like a nagging fly.
The depression thickened. My ex-boyfriend was arrested and jailed while trying to find money to cover rent. The young woman moved out after our first kiss and our first fight. I was alone.
Seven weeks then eight. The pins were pulled out. The cast removed. I could finally write. I picked at the crisp, ugly, plastic layer of skin on my hand.
The words were so backed up inside of me, I still couldn’t write. I stared at my computer, and nothing came. I slept. I watched TV. I cried for no reason.
Yesterday, two people wrote me on Facebook. The first, a mutual Jim Morrison admirer in a secret fan club. We’ve never met. He bought me a painting in exchange for the promise that I keep writing. The second, a peer from my graduate writing program. “Live up to that great name of yours. Every day is precious and gone forever once that sun dips below the ridge,” he wrote.
Then I wrote this.
About the artists:
Carlos Brito is an award-winning Brazilian artist, painter, graphic and pattern designer and children’s book illustrator. He is also an author of a book of images, published by Editora Moderna.
Vita Lusty graduated from Antioch University’s Creative Writing program in 2014. She is now hiding in the Joshua Tree desert, finishing her first book and working as a teacher.