mat byerly

Posted on July 10, 2017


In My Head

            I sit at my desk, with a pen and a notebook, which is surprisingly blank. No sound is in the air. No sound is in my head, just empty and useless. I need an idea. I have a deadline (tomorrow of all days).

            Okay, I think I got it. I’ll write about a rebellious teenager at a private school. It will be a coming-of-age-like story.

            “That’s Catcher in the Rye, asshole,” says someone.

            I look up from my desk, and I have an audience. It’s as if I’m a college professor at a desk in front of a stadium-seated student section. It’s not a normal audience; this audience is small, about 20 people, of almost all men. All these men kind of look like me, but each varies from the next.

            “Who said that?” I ask.

A tattooed version of me with a Mohawk raises his hand. “Me,” he states. “You should continue with the rebellious character, but make him older like 25 and make him a part of an anarchist group.”

            I stare at him. Maybe. That’s not a bad idea.

            “Nah, that’s boring and highly unintellectual,” calmly murmurs a nerdy looking me with thick large glasses, sitting in the first row. He raises his finger.

            I point at him. “Yes, you can continue.”

            He puts his hand down. “How about you write a captivating piece about a genius janitor at MIT who solves problems…”

            The audience moans in annoyance while some “Boo,” loudly and out of tune.

            “What?” questions the nerd.

            “That’s Good Will Hunting, jackass,” voices a low-voiced guy wearing a letterman jacket. “You should write about sports!”

            A few audience members shout “Yeah,” but I’m not sold.

            “That’s kinda vague,” I respond to the sports enthusiast version of me.

            “Sports…Like football, baseball, hockey,” retorts the letterman.

            I roll my eyes. I know what sports are. Just based on that response, I’m not going to write about sports. I take my pen, and toss it at letterman me. He disappears into nothingness, to my surprise. The audience cheers.

            I stand up and preach, “Let that be a lesson to all of you.” I return to my seat as I search for another writing utensil (so I could use it to write/throw at my-selves) in my desk drawer.

            I find a pencil, and I stare determined at my so-called canvas on which I’m going to paint my verbal masterpiece. The crowd is silent, like right before a championship tennis match serve.

            An occasional cough rumbles in the audience, and breaks my concentration. I look up, sternly, and the coughing source gets bashful and then looks down.

            “I have an idea,” squeaks a high-pitched voice.

            I’m alerted like a dog at a noise in the distance. I scan the indifferent congregation. I come across the only possible subject, who is a female, in fact, the only female. (Well…I’m pretty sure it’s a female.) It could just be me in female clothing. She’s just what I imagine what my twin sister would look like. I point at her for a response.

            “What about a story about an Amazoness society?” she questions, politely.

            The masculine audience hisses, and moans about her feminist idea. I ponder the idea, with my hand rubbing my scruffy chin.

            “I like it,” I answer. “What should happen?”

            “Murder!” shouts an individual in the back.

            I stand, chucking a pencil at him. He pops like a bubble on contact. “No murder,” I notify my support group. I search for another pencil, and slam the drawer. “Any other pointless suggestions?”

            “Suicide,” one says. A pencil is tossed…he’s gone.

            “Drug addiction,” says another. A pencil is tossed…he’s gone.

            “Apathy,” whispers a shy character. A pen is tossed…he’s gone.

            “An emotional tug-of-war between an Amazoness beauty and a forbidden fruit from another clan,” shouts a confident soul.

            I stand, “That’s a powerful idea.” The confident soul, wearing the same exact clothing as I’m wearing, grins widely, while slowly nodding his head back-and-forth as if he already knows what I’m going to say. I toss my brand-new pencil at him like a fastball catching the batter totally off-guard as well as bursting him into a cloud of dust. “I fucking hate that idea,” I say to the vacant spot. “When you think you know me, then you don’t.” I sit back down in front of the confused, shaken audience.

            The crowd, now about ten, is jaded. Among the group, there is the nerdy me, female me, tattooed me, and the rest have been totally silent (or unless they just have been sleeping).

            I open my drawer, and grab a fist full of pens and pencils. I toss them at the sleepy folk, eliminating them permanently from our conversation. I get up, and sit on top of my desk. “All you guys sit in the three seats right in front of me.” I point at the two seats to the right of nerdy me. Tattooed me and female me get up, and they sit next to nerdy me respectfully in that order from the left to the right. “Now we could have an intimate conversation. So we got the Amazoness society. Now, what?”

            All of them look down. No one is noticeably nervous, except for nerdy me. The sweat growing around his collar and arm pits. The sweat drops like a mid-summer downpour off of his face. He hasn’t said anything in awhile.

            I call on the nerd, like a douche bag high school math teacher who just hates his job and he just wants to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims. “You have any wise ideas?” I examine.

            The nerd stays still as the moisture does not let up, riding his face like the windshield of a parked car in a storm. Though, he’s like a statue except he blinks continuously as his eyes dance. “Well,” he says but stops to clear his throat calmly. “How about you look at one girl’s view of the world, outside of her little society? This would lead to her wandering off looking at the world as if she was an Amish girl going through the world during Rumspringa.”  

            I nod, and hop off my desk. I point my pencil at the nerd. He grows more frightened than ever and I say, “Okay.” He becomes befuddled as I pace in front of them.

            Tattooed me coughs. “But that’s stupid,” he whispers. I quickly turn, and stare at him.

            “What?” I demand.

            “I said that’s stupid.”

            I shake my head. “No,” I say as I continue to pace back-and-forth. “No, no, no.” I shovel pass him my pencil, and he pops, like all the rest.

            Now, it’s just us three. I hop back on the desk, touching my face like a heavily bearded fellow. I look down, contemplating ideas.

            “Are you really gonna write about this subject?” queries my female twin.

            I continue to rub my chin, periodically shifting looks between the final two and the ground. I remove my hand from my face, and hop up onto my feet.

            I find a new pen in my desk, and I toss it high in the air. “No,” I proclaim to her, and the pen flies down and pops the nerd, ending its parabolic shaping. “You want to get out of here?” I ask the woman.

            Female me smiles, and gets up. “I thought you would never ask.” I put my arm around her and we walk away.

            This is how to overcome writer’s block.


mat byerly graduated from Robert Morris University with a Bachelors of Arts in Applied Mathematics, and he is a M.F.A. (in Creative Writing Fiction) dropout. He has a short story published in Adelaide Magazine’s Spring 2017 Edition called “Boys”. He writes screenplays, songs, short stories, and poems.  He loves to write stories with strong internal conflicts, but has a tendency to write humorous material as well as strange, unconventional stories.

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