The Last Poem's Poet
by Oro

After their release of public service, all of the words became invisible.

So he sits, trying to unearth them before he forgets they ever existed. Retrospect seems to have evaded him in his attempt to catch what others didn't, to give a careful, measured analysis of idealism's fallout into disappointment. He wants to go back again to see everything from a million different perspectives, and not think of that part of his life at all ever again.

He pours coffee down his throat like water now. You'd think it would be alcohol, but he just wants to stay awake before everything is numb in his mind, before all of the memories wilt and die a slow, warm death. Warm like scotch, warm like blood, warm like all of the reasons he nearly had to check into a rehab center after he no longer had his job. He likes the cold and sober now, says it's his touch to the real world. His senses went dead as his skin got thicker, and this process of growing up, growing old, made his hair greyer than it ought to be at his age. He wants to have words before he's unable to pronounce them.

It's nearly five in the morning and he wants his skin to prick with the electricity of inspiration, but it only vaguely shudders at the bitter caffeine rush.

Toby can't remember when he started dying inside, but he'd like to write about it before the devil comes to take his talent away. One last story, but he can't think. Coffee covers his tongue black, his insides black, burning into an empty void.


He is burning from the inside out, until he is nothing but his own outline.


After their release of fast-paced politics, his step became slower.

Daylight permeates his vision slowly, mixing with the golden light of the overly heated lamp. There's something about lamplight that can't possibly compete with sunlight, so he turns off the former and stays in the relative dark. His pupils grow large, engulfing his natural dark with their sinister black.

The paper is just white enough to taunt him, and his brain buzzes with a caffeine rush. He can practically feel his blood boiling, vibrating. He's still stuck on the first sentence, hell, the first word, something good that would make the rest come easily, naturally. He's stuck in an idealistic state of mind that's going to get him absolutely nowhere. He tried to outline everything, wrap his mind around everything he has to tell the world, and it seemed too much.

Everyone always knew he'd be the first to write a memoir, everyone always said that. They said that he'd be first and Sam would be second, because Sam is still licking his wounds in California, still licking ass to get votes. Sam's too busy to write about the disillusionment of Toby Ziegler, who didn't have too many expectations to begin with.

He gets up slowly, his bones creaking slightly so that only he can hear.

It's too late to write.

The sun is up.


Light burns through the skies, but he closes the curtains and goes to sleep.


After they lost and found themselves, he is still at the point of having no direction.

Saturday evening finds him with his eyelids stuck together, his body an exhausted muck. The silver alarm clock flashes a neon-green 5:04pm, and he finds himself apathetic. He loses days, he loses count on them. He loses time that should be precious, slowly losing his own sanity.

He needs a goal, and lately he's been spending his nights losing a battle to a blank page. The page, like his mind, is empty, and he's still surprised that he's not used to losing anymore. It's how a winning streak damages you so you can't see the end of it. He's seen the end and this is not it, it's what comes after the end.

It's a slow death before he burns into ashes and rises again; he can't see resurrection; he can barely see what's outside his own window. He can't face retrospect, their story always getting in the way of telling history as he knows it, and his fear of remembering them is bigger than his fear of forgetting her altogether.

He trips over his boy's yellow toy truck on his way to the shower.


The water burns his skin red, gliding from the top of his head down the rest of his naked body.


After they weren't anymore, she went to California without saying a word.

He wraps a towel around his waist and brushes his teeth, not bothering to glance at the mirror as he spits spitefully at nothing specific. The green towel is soft and wet underneath his feet.

He gets dressed and sits at his desk again like the masochist he's become.

There's a package he hasn't opened yet, from her publisher in California.

He thinks of cutting his own skin just to see if he could literally bleed the words onto the paper. Maybe the devil had already been there when he wasn't looking, while he was too busy with the other things to notice. Maybe he missed his chance to tell one last story and wrote a shopping list on a yellow post-it instead.

His babies were teething and she packed her bags and took a plane and stayed there until he got it into his head that there was nothing to wait for. At the time, it did not occur to him that she would get tired of waiting for him to stop fucking around with Andi and her problems and his problems.

She left and took his words with her in a heavy leather suitcase her father bought her when she graduated college.


She stole his words and used them to beat him to it. He rips the brown paper apart to reveal the smooth, white papers, tarnished with lines and lines of black words he couldn't write on his own. There's a note that says a simple "sorry," and his body is old and heavy as he turns to read.


His blood burns inside. He picks up his pen and puts it back down again.


Her words are true and eloquent. He closes the manuscript and feels resurrection tingle at the tips of his fingers.


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