By Cat Sole
It was the dog days of January, and she was dreaming of the beach. She lay in a pool of humid
sweat on the single mattress, in the sunless room that was too small – and thought of blue skies, and sea-salt air, and blank sheets of paper.
She thought of well-intentioned words of caution. “It’s a very difficult profession, you
know.” “Very few people make a living of it.” “It doesn’t hurt to have a fallback plan.” And she had smiled and nodded and imagined a city of artists, stretching like a labyrinth through urban
landscapes and studios and underground cultures. There she would write – really write.
She had found the apartment, on the left of the couple with the cat with the missing ear, and
on the right of the bass player whose chords pounded through the walls. A Stygian spot of mould
gazed down at her from the ceiling, but it was her ceiling and her apartment and her space, and free from distraction she would finally write.
A job in a coffee shop paid the rent. She would smile to herself, thinking of a future where
she would look back at this time with nostalgia, chapter two in the autobiography: ‘Humble
Beginnings’. The hours were long and her feet grew tired, but it was all okay, because in the
evenings she would write, she would write, she told herself, when she had a night off. When she
wasn’t so tired. When the time was right.
A year passed, and then five. The coffee shop closed and another one opened. The cat was found
one early November morning, missing more than its ear, and the bass player was replaced by a
fresh-faced girl who arrived with the cherry blossoms in August. A fresh-faced girl with a sun
kissed smile who could have walked out of the photo beside the single mattress in the sunless room that was too small.
The photo was the only remnant of home she had brought with her. White sand. Cerulean
water. Smiling faces. It was framed by shells, carefully collected by smaller hands. Hands that had filled notebook upon notebook with ink and life, that had caused everyone around her to exclaim, “You’re going to be a great writer some day!” Some day, some day.
She lay on the single mattress in the dog days of January. The Stygian spot of mould had
grown, spreading its tendrils like tree roots, choking the white paint. She liked that; she should write it down. She rolled over to look at the blank sheets of paper. She continued to look at the blank sheets of paper. She dreamed of the beach.
One thought on “The Dog Days of January”
I found Cat Sole’s “The Dog Days of January” quite realistic. Most writers do start from humble beginnings, similar to the writer described in this short passage. When she wrote “A job in a coffee shop paid the rent,” I thought of John Steinbeck, who once drove a cab in Manhattan to pay his bills while he struggled as a writer. Frank Kowal