Jamal's First Story by Roy Neyman

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SUMMARY: You have to have seen Finding Forrester for this...

Jamal sat in the half-dark staring at the keys of the ancient Royal typewriter as the old man wandered about the apartment. He couldn't make his fingers move because he couldn't raise any coherent idea that he thought might weave itself into something worthwhile. Claire came to mind. He was still amazed that the obviously well bred girl paid him any attention at all, but she had, ...and apparently not just because his tour of Mailor Callow had been her assignment that day. She was a genuinely nice, caring, thoughtful girl. Imagination finally kicked in.

Arriving at her front door, he wrote, she pulled her small bundle of keys from her calf skin purse and pushed the heavier of the two into the lock. That's all there were on the ring, only two keys and the small silver teddy bear that daddy had given her on her sixteenth birthday. This key ring celebrated the only things she cared about in her life: her daddy, her home, and her diary. Her daddy was the protector of her life, her home was where her life resided, and her diary was where her heart beat.

She felt the dull, mechanical rattle of the key as it turned in the lock more in the tips of her slim teenage fingers than she heard it with her delicate teenage ears. She pulled the key from the lock, stepped inside, and shoved the heavy oak door closed with that single movement that came from having accomplished the same simple feat time after time, day after day for years. It settled in its frame with a satisfyingly solid clunk-latch that symbolized the safety and comfort that she took for granted. A satisfyingly similar sound sealed her feeling of security as she turned the deadbolt to.

Rubbing the silver bear between her thumb and middle finger, she walked up the gracefully curving staircase, sliding her other hand along the polished mahogany banister. Her penny loafers made only a muffled whisper on the heavy Persian carpet runner that was held in place by polished brass rods. The deep reds, dark blues, and golden swirls drew Claire's attention to the visual conversation between the oriental weave and the more natural pattern of the wooden stair treads.

Turning to the right at the upper landing, Claire was about even with the top of the crystal chandelier that dominated the volume enclosed by the staircase. Sun poured in through the windows and sent myriad tiny rainbows through space to splash themselves onto the walls and the paintings that adorned them. They make the gilt frames seem cheap, she thought to herself. One, though, had appointed itself as a beacon, shining on her diary as it sat, clasped safely shut, on her bedside table.

Claire's bed sighed beneath her as she sat upon the Delfth blue quilt. Laying back, she sank into the pillows and turned her head as she stretched the languid length of her arm out for her diary. It felt good in her hands. The leather binding was polished smooth with handling, the small brass lock bright around the key hole with a thousand turns of the little brass key. Claire inserted it and opened the lock. She flipped casually past the hundreds of pages, each a small, safe harbor for her innermost thoughts.

Finally arriving at a blank page, she pulled the small ball point pen from it's sheath in the spine and began to write: "I met a boy today, ..."