The perfect line
He paced through the room restlessly. He was shivering and embracing himself, he rubbed his arms to warm up his body.
“It’s in my head, it’s there, it’s in my head,” he muttered silently more to himself than to anyone else. “I just have to let it out!”
He kept on walking, following the pattern of the white tiles on the floor. Suddenly the wall that had made him turn every time he had reached it before, stopped him. He softly banged his head against the cool surface and let out a desperate sigh.
“Why did this happen to me? It used to flow so naturally. I never had this problem! I know I can do it… I always did. Why not now? What’s wrong with me?”
“So, Ylönen, what have you got for me?”
The sharp voice made him twirl around. He stared at the woman. Her piercing cold blue eyes locked with his. She crossed her arms and tapped her left foot impatiently at the floor.
“Well, I… I’ve thought about… there are…” Lauri stuttered insecurely.
“Oh, come on, Ylönen, that senseless stammering, is that all you got?”
“No… I… I don’t…”
She laughed out sarcastically. “Has our little poet been left by inspiration?” She stepped forward and slid her cool fingers down his cheek.
Lauri shrugged. He felt like ice had just burned his skin. He backed up against the wall.
Her breath stroke his ear when she whispered, “Remember your promise? Always writing the best lyrics, the perfect lyrics. So, where is it? That perfect line?”
These last words were like a stabbing knife in his ears.
He pressed his hands against his ears and shoved the woman out of his way.
“I can do it. I have it. I can tell you. It’s right here.”
“Goddammnit, Ylönen! Then tell me!”
Lauri took deep breath and nervously scratched his fingernails along his forearms.
”Breathe out so I can breathe you in.”
She laughed out again. “Do you really think I wouldn’t realize that this line was written by the Foo Fighters?”
”Somewhere in my soul there’s always rock ‘n roll,” Lauri went on quickly.
The woman snorted. “Joe Strummer.”
”The killer in me is the killer in you,” Lauri tried again.
She rose her eyebrows. “And now Smashing Pumpinks? Oh, Ylönen, don’t you think you can do better than that?”
Lauri tried to swallow the lump in his throat and wiped his sweaty palms along his pants. He started to shake. Why couldn’t he think about lyrics anymore? He always had been able to write great stuff and he had always dreamed of writing the perfect line. He could do it. He knew it. Just the more he tried, the more he felt like he was paralysed. He had to do it, he just had to. Writing that perfect line, that goddamn perfect line…
The woman sighed. “Well, obviously you can’t.”
She walked towards him, her glance full with disdain.
Lauri looked at the floor, trying to hold back the tears that were watering his eyes. He kept scratching his arms, leaving red marks on the skin.
“Who would have thought? What happened to that big star? That glorious songwriter? If they could just see you right now, not being able to write a single line! What would they think? About that always so self-conscious guy you once were? And look at you now! You’re nothing! Seems like all these critics were right when they said you’re just an average wannabe rockstar! You are nothing! You are a joke!”
“Shut up!” He suddenly yelled and hit his hands against his ears. He sunk to the floor and whimpered, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
“Shut up? Why? Because she is telling you the truth?”
Lauri turned to look at the man who was kneeling next to him.
“We both know that she’s saying the truth, don’t we? Why don’t you just forget about that perfect line. It would save all of us a lot of time and nerves if you admit that you can’t write,” the man whispered coldly into Lauri’s ear.
“But I can write, I can, I can, I will show you, I’m not a joke, I’m gonna write you that song with that perfect line,” Lauri replied hectically and feverishly scratched the delicate skin on the inside of his wrist. A few of the red marks had already drawn blood.
The man gave him an evil grin. “Write it down? How? They haven’t even given you a pen and paper, how do you want to write it down? They’ve given you nothing! No chair, no table, no pens… and do you know why? Because you don’t deserve it! You’re not worth it! You’re scum, you hardly deserve the air you’re breathing. Even the dirt under your fingernails is worth more than you are!”
“No, no, no, you’re lying,” Lauri sobbed but he sounded like he was more trying to convince himself than the man. “The perfect line, I’ll find the perfect line…”
“What is he doing?” Eero looked through the little window of the door. “Who is he taking to?”
Lauri was sitting in the middle of the empty white room, his back towards the door, rocking his body back and forth.
“He is talking to imaginary people. We are not sure but we think he’s trying to come up with song lyrics for these people,” the doctor explained.
Eero sighed sadly. “We would never have thought that this could happen! I mean, of course we were all under pressure when writing the new album after all the success. But then Lauri had this writer’s block… which was just the beginning of… this.” He nodded through the little window. “Is there anything we can do to help him?”
The doctor shook his head. “I’m afraid no. But I promise you we will do everything we can. Maybe he just needs some time to get over this.”
“Why don’t you give him some paper and a pen so he can write down if he comes up with some lyrics?” Eero asked.
“We tried that but last time Mr. Ylönen stabbed the pen through his hand. We’re afraid he could harm himself more severely next time.”
Lauri watched the blood that gathered slowly in little drops on his wrist. He kept scratching the skin with his nails.
The laughter of the man and woman was still echoing in his ears. He knew they were still standing in the corner of the room, watching him. He didn’t have to raise his head, he knew they were there, standing close, arm in arm, looking at him with satisfied smiles.
“Perfect line, the perfect line, perfect…” he mumbled silently over and over again.
The man chuckled. “Stupid boy. Little does he know he already has written his perfect line!”
Lauri’s nails kept rushing over his wrist until his fingertips were tinted red. Then he began to write on the white floor.
”But I, I’d rather kill myself than turn into their slave.”