Today I have Mohammed Refaat on my blog. Mohammed is currently working on his first novel, a contemporary fiction piece, The Crack in the Ceiling. Here is an excerpt from his work in progress.
“Help me out man”, the homeless guy on my street says, his voice muffled behind the closed window of my car. This morning mantra snaps me back from my memories about Claire. Since my brief lunch with Claire yesterday, those memories from two years ago have been playing on a loop in my head; a nagging loop that keeps reminding me that maybe I’m no different than all her neighbours, all her work colleagues and that old man.
I hand the homeless man the usual folded bills and as I roll the window back up, I leave it only half-closed and light up a cigarette.
I don’t feel like doing any work today, so I hide behind my cubicle, leaning back in the chair and gazing at the open sky through the slice of window that I can see from over the cubicle wall. I let my mind run free with images of a brightly lit street, a riverside café and a smiling baby. And then Claire’s battered face flashes before me, reminding me of the reality of life. I consider asking her to join me for lunch again today but a quick visit from Edward to my cubicle reminds me of the reality of this office. I decide it’s a safer idea just to pass by her desk a little earlier on my way out so we can have some more time to chat.
At lunch time, I slip into the men’s room until I’m fairly sure everyone has left for their break and then I go back to my desk and pull out a few empty sheets of paper and start writing. I want to try to capture as many of the details and feelings of those visions as possible, but everything seems blurry in my mind’s eye.
“It’s about time.” Those words, and the voice that spoke them, are the only thing I can recall as clearly as if they were being spoken to me right now.
I pass by Claire’s space on my way out and we chat for a short while before I excuse myself. I mention I need to pick up a couple of things on my way home to prepare for Joey’s visit tomorrow.
“Oh, right, it’s time for his weekly visit.” She says. “Are you going to be ok?” She asks, sounding concerned, no doubt referring to me seeing Lillian when she drops Joey off.
I force a smile. “Sure. I can’t keep getting worked up over it after all this time. See you tomorrow.” I say and make my way to the fast elevator. I take out my lighter and a cigarette. The stares of the people around me remind me that I’m still inside the elevator. I keep my hands busy flicking the lighter open then flicking it back shut until I’m out on the street.
After a few hours of cleaning, the place is ready for Joey’s visit tomorrow. I throw myself back on the couch and sit there facing the window with a fresh box of cigarettes, the lighter and an empty plate/ashtray on the table. Next to them a paperback copy of the best of Edgar Allan Poe lies open at a page half way through the book. The title at the top is (The Tell-Tale Heart).
I fight the urge to check my watch, but when I get up to get the prescription bottles from the night stand, the sky outside is dark, the plate that was empty is now full and the box of cigarettes that was full is now empty.
I sit back down in the same spot. I line all the remaining six tablets on the table. I begin to take them one by one. With the last pill, my eyes glance over the open book on the table. I throw back what’s left in the glass of water; place it on the table and sit back, thinking to myself, “It’s about time.”
As I succumb to the invisible power pulling me into limbo, the opening lines ring like an echo, “TRUE!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”
A man torn between two worlds struggles to grasp what is real and what is not, trying to put together the pieces of his shattered life. As he journeys through the labyrinths of mind and soul, will he find what he wants? And will he be able to pay the price of discovering the truth?
About the Author
Mohammed Refaat is a freelance writer and blogger. With a degree in pharmaceuticals and 6 years of experience working in the field of psychotropic drugs, he decided to write about the more subtle effects that every day stress can create in people’s lives. Being an introvert and an avid reader, Mohammed posts regularly about reading, writing and introversion on his blog. You can also follow him via Twitter. Mohammed currently lives in Qatar with his wife and three-year old daughter. The Crack In The Ceiling is his debut novel. It will be released in 2014.
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