Geoffrey Gates

First Draft Julia

Julia is a girl from a novel – one she is trying to write. And so, one always gets mixed up in her fictional subplots. She treats everyone in the same brash, authorial way. It is always I going to her flat and not the other way around.

I ring her bell. I hear her pushing back a chair, running to the door, flinging it wide. I am framed in spring sunlight – a poet she has captured in her butterfly net (I read this later on her typewriter).

‘Kiss me!’ she says, flinging her body around mine. She is in a good mood, and Julia is even more exhausting when she is being creative.

‘Can you write dialogue?’ she asks, as she closes the door behind me. She has taken my hand and is leading me towards her typewriter. I resist, and fall onto her bed. It is large and luxurious. It has a white quilt with a back outline, like a framed blank page.

‘I am a poet, as you say, and have no need to write dialogue,’ I reply ironically.

This is my view of Julia’s room. In arm’s reach, a bookshelf. Beside the bookshelf, the large old fashioned desk Julia told me she stole from a dying uncle. The typewriter sits plonk in the middle of the desk, with a sheet of white paper, half filled with text. This is the real console, but I seek only consolation.

She comes to me, where I lay, already removing her sweater. I glance her soft skin, the fall of her hair against my neck. Julia and I, together again.



A moment or two passes, a shadow enters the room, and her voice is soft and persuasive.

‘We can try again, this time listen to what I am saying, okay?’

She moves over to her desk, and removes the paper from the typewriter.

‘Take me by force, and throw me onto the bed,’ she says, ‘here, it is already written. I want to hear how the dialogue reads. It is hard to write a bedroom scene.’

I take my script, and note the verisimilitude. It begins with my own entrance. I have character, and dreamlike eyes.

‘Ready? With some kraft!’

I rise and do as she asks. After all, this is her novel.

The next part of the script is difficult to read – it largely consists of symbolic representations of groaning, half in German. Also, Julia is wildly thrashing around. There are verbs on the verge of collapsing. There are nouns about to leave town. And then, the page seems to lift from my hands, and float freely, right out of the widow. It doesn’t seem to matter at all.

She is puffing as she types again. ‘Better, much better than the first draft!’

Later, I stand outside, and light a cigarette.

I wonder how literally I should take Julia. ‘I thought I was the first draft,’ I say to myself, as I unlock my bike. Should wait a while? Perhaps another boy will soon arrive and another page float out the window?

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