A Case of Writer’s Block
Clodomira could not work on her novel anymore.
Her amygdala, congenitally small, blew a couple of nuclei. That caused a fiber in her subiculum, long frayed, to brown-out. And down the line, in quick succession, the mammillary nuclei, lateral hypothalamus, and entorhinal cortex all shorted — and finally, her prefrontal cortex went dark.
It was then that Clodomira’s pet seahorse spoke to her: “I order you to make biomorphic art. Today and every day going forward. Make me a curtain for the aquarium out of your used tampons. I love that shade of carmine you make.”
Clodomira had only the current tampon in use, her last, but she carefully removed it and placed it on her manuscript. In the kitchen she replaced it with a wad of Bounty — “the quicker picker upper,” she sang. After a quick trip to the U-Totem-M, she estimated she could have three more used tampons for the biomorphic curtain by tomorrow, but then her period would end. She resigned herself to living with writer’s block for another month until she could make the curtains the seahorse requested of her.
She wondered if she could use ketchup to trick the seahorse, but it quickly cut her off and yelled: “No, fuck you! Don’t you know I know everything that goes on with you. Prepare for stasis and inertia until you build the tampon curtain for me.”
“What if I call my friends and ask them to help?”
“No,” the seahorse said. “It must be your blood… or the blood of Jesus.”
She looked in the White Pages to see if she could find an address for Jesus. She found a Jesus Montero that lived a couple of towns over. Clodomira called Jesus Montero and explained her problem. He was willing to help her out if she would go out on a date with him. She hesitated, then acquiesced. They set a meeting time for seven o’clock that evening. They would meet at the airport chapel — the Chapel of the Sacred Humors.
Seven o’clock came and went and she sat at the rear of the chapel staring at Mary and the infant Jesus cradled at her breast. Abruptly, Mary dropped Jesus. Jesus thunked on the floor and rolled around a bit like a coin.
Then he stood up and said, “I’m sorry I’m late. Mom needed me to do her a favor. I couldn’t say no.” Clodomira walked up front and sat at the first pew and tapped the bench signaling Jesus to sit beside her.
He sat. She took out a syringe and said, “give me some blood.”
He asked where they were going that evening. She said dinner and a screening of Oliver at the Miracle Theater at 9. He said, “groovy, far out!”
Jesus held out his arm, and as he was doing so she took a telescopic truncheon out of her purse and beat him unconscious. She stuck the syringe in his mainline artery and removed 40 milliliters. She injected herself with his blood and nodded out in the blue redeeming light of Jesus.
The seahorse came to Clodomira in the darkness and told her to prostrate herself before him in the aquarium, when she arrived home, and bleed herself in order to create the tampon curtain sooner. “Do not tarry,” he said.
Upon regaining consciousness Clodomira replaced the passed out Jesus back into Mary’s arms but he would not stay in place. She tried fitting him into her purse but he was too large and inflexible; she could not fold him in as he had turned to wood again. She was stumped on what to do with Jesus now. Then she knew.
As Clodomira left the chapel she dunked him in the font by the door. He was momentarily submerged. He floated back up just in time to see her cross herself as she exited the chapel.
“Sometimes my stories thrilled readers. Sometimes my stories bored them. Whatever the response I upheld my part of the bargain. I read, I wrote, I revised … and I persisted.”
— Jesmyn Ward / Navigate Your Stars