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By Ji Won Jeong May 1, 2018

Blank Paper

Illustrated by Madina Masharipova

Ten past nine. Everyone else was typing their way through. We had the weekend to prepare our plot. I swear, I did think about my plot. Maybe I thought about it too much. I came up with ninety-seven different plots: sixty on Friday, twenty-three on Saturday, and fourteen on Sunday. Honestly, I could have gone on forever, but human obstacles are always present. Twenty past nine. We were supposed to have two hours to write a scene in the computer lab. Unfortunately, my teacher reserved the hospital-looking one where all the students in it look like they’re getting their life sucked out by the aliens disguised in computers.

All the other keyboards were still clattering non-stop. The only thing I saw on the white digital page was the thin black line blinking. Blinking. I could start my scene like that, I thought. Sentences were running through my head. I took a deep breath and finally laid down my sweaty fingers on the keyboard. As I was about to type the word He, I stopped. I stopped because he meant that my protagonist was a boy. Boys. They’re such complex characters. I have never understood boys. Boys have never understood me. Better not have a boy as my protagonist, I thought. She might have been a better start for me. Not that she was an easy character to create but since I was a girl, I might have understood a “she” better than how I understood boys. Jesus, it was taking me forever.

“Rosie”

For a second, I got a déjà-vu of my mom walking into my shower.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you, but you should start writing. You’ve only got an hour left,” said my teacher, tapping his hairy index finger on his worn-out leather watch.

My writing lab teacher. He was an interesting character, like all boys. He wasn’t a boy anymore though; I think it had been ages that he has been teaching at this school. The irony of him being a teacher was that he seemed to really enjoy his subject, but each time he had to talk about it with his students, he seemed to hate us because we were so goddamn ignorant. 

“Yeup, I was about to,” I replied, putting down my fingers on the greasy keyboard.

And then, he gave me the look. The I-warned-you-don’t-complain-if-you-become-homeless-because-you-failed-this-course look. The worst part was that I felt his presence right behind me even after giving me the look. And when I said “I felt”, I literally meant it. He breathes so loud all the time through his nose that you can literally feel the air coming out of his nostrils onto your face. This time, I was feeling it on my neck. I started typing a random sentence about a girl meeting this guy for the first time and falling in love. I stopped when I didn’t feel the air blown on my neck anymore. In a split second, the sentence was deleted and my paper was blank once again.

“What are you writing about?” I asked the girl next to me.

“I don’t think we’re allowed to talk,” answered the girl, not even bothering to look at me.

The funny thing was she was usually the kid who talked all the time when the teacher was talking. Since she refused to tell me what she wrote, I decided to take a peek at what she wrote myself.

…lips. He gently grabbed her face in his hands and kissed her. Her lips were as soft as a baby’s butt and as sweet as honey.   

It killed me. I didn’t know if she was conscious of the fact that a seventy-year-old man was going to read this, nor of the fact that comparing a girl’s lips to a baby’s butt was not the most romantic comparison.

I looked back at my blank paper and started wondering why the cursor was designed to blink. Then, I made an extraordinary discovery. Each blink equaled one second. I had to count the number of times the cursor blinked in one minute to find that out. I had to repeat this experiment a few times just to make sure. I suddenly felt this crazy urge to tell this secret to the girl next to me, in fact, to the whole class. It was like one of the things that was right in front your eyes, but nobody ever noticed it. I swear, I felt like Edward Snowden for a second. And when I said “for a second”, I literally meant it, because at the end of that one second when I felt superior to everyone else in the world, I heard my teacher saying:

“Fifteen minutes left!”

I heard a few whispers of swear words and the speed of typing increasing. My brain started to recall at an incredible speed all the plots I had written down during the weekend. There was one about an old lady who had to pick up her groceries on a rainy day. There was another one with a similar plot, except the girl was a teenage girl. The other one was exactly the same plot, except the girl had a boyfriend. And the next forty plots were exactly the same as the first one, except her husband was still alive, or she was actually a stripper or a serial killer. I really didn’t understand how I was supposed write a scene within two hours and hold responsibility of what I typed on the blank paper. I knew I could have written anything on that blank paper, but I didn’t know if I could hold responsibility of what I would write. I laid down my fingers for the last time on the black shiny keyboard.

            As soon as I clicked “Print”, I heard the heated printer go on again. I breathed in the burning smell of the printer, then I picked up my paper. I carried it to my teacher’s desk and gently put it down on the pile of typed letters.

About the author

Ji Won Jeong is currently in her second year studying Cinema-Communications at Dawson College. She loves creating as much as she enjoys observing.

About the illustrator

Madina Masharipova studies Illustration and Animation. She loves to paint with oil and watercolour paints; James Jean is one of her biggest inspirations.

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