A Waste of Paper – Flash Fiction

The paper had mounted up around the wastepaper basket, over the hours. Michelle tore yet another sheet of her pad and crumpled it up into the smallest of balls. She pressed the paper between her fist until her knuckles went white and the paper cut into her skin. Once the ball had been compressed as tight as she could make it, she threw it in the direction of the bin. The ball bounced a couple of times, before falling on the floor, beside several other pieces

Michelle had written three dissertations and countless essays, none had been as hard as this. She stared at the white paper, it appeared to mock her, as she tried to find an opening line that did the subject justice. A line came to her and she scratched it into the paper. The sound soothed her nerves, as the pencil flew across the page. She looked down at the line.

No, it was like something she had written before, but that line had been better. Stumbling to the waste paper bin she tipped all the little balls onto the floor in front of her. Leaning against the wall, she went through the painstaking task of smoothing out the paper. Running the palms of her hands over the paper a couple of times to make it flat. After the pile had been stacked on her knees, she went through them, one at a time looking for her missing line.

She found it three-quarters of the way through. Still, it could have been worse it could have been the last page. Placing the missing line beside her, she went through the same ritual of crumbling the pages back into tight balls. This time she placed them all in the waste paper basket. Taking the saved piece of paper to her desk, she altered the line on the pad to this one.

Again she carried on writing, scratching her thoughts across the page. For as long as she could remember she had always written in pencil. The feel of the shiny wood in her hand. The way the lead scratched the words into the paper. When she made a mistake, she could flip the pencil over erasing it. She brushed the rubbings off, creating a little mountain of blue shavings beside her pad. Later when she finished, she would bring the waste paper basket over and sweep them on top of the balls of paper.

Halfway down the page, she looked at the next line. No, she had written something similar before. Going back to the waste paper basket, she went through the same ritual with the paper, as before. This time she found the missing line a third of the way through the pile.

Michelle rubbed her eyes and massaged her neck with her left hand. She felt the muscles relax as she squeezed them. Six hours she had been sat over this paper trying to write the most important speech of her life. So far she had managed one page that was okay. Several friends had told her they could find someone to write this for her. She was adamant though that this should be all her own work. It wasn’t every day, you became the first female president of the USA.

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