diner.jpg I'm thirsty for creation.

Sit in the dark. Wait until the house is silent and then, with all the shades down and the door double-bolted, back into a corner and wait for your Imagination to rise from the shadows.

If I follow my own direction, I find Her there, blossoming from the murky air around us. I am not alone. She emerges like Venus, like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, like Klatu from his ship, like Sonora from the pool with her diving horse.

Tonight she had a lot to say. I was reminded of a storyline, one of many I've neglected over the last year, but still a favorite. It has all the potential of a newborn, a thought which scares me almost as much as it thrills me. For wherever there is potential for success, there is potential for disaster. My storyline's pendulum won't hover on the side of perfection forever... at some point I'll sigh as I watch is hurdle on its predetermined arc back to the realm of shoddy drafts and mundane concepts and obvious morals to be learned.

But here, at least, with the help of my Imagination, who opted at random to aid me in my quest for productivity, the pendulum is hesitating near success. Perhaps the magnet of my mind has been clicked on and is holding it steady. Perhaps the planets have shifted, stars have aligned, God has smiled. Who knows?

Tonight, Della danced in the diner.

You don't know her like I do, of course, but maybe, if you like me enough, you'll trust my opinion of this fictional stranger. Trust me, this dance, the way her bare toes pointed as she skipped around the empty room, sponging the tables and lip-syncing along with the Andrews Sisters, the slap of the wet dishrag on the counter and the glistening snail trail of bubbles and dampness in its wake... trust me, all of this is typical of a girl whom I've christened 'Della.'

She's flesh and bone to me, but only on nights like this one. I know every inch of her, as if she were born of my body rather than my mind.

Please don't ask me to define 'productivity.' Tonight my stomach aches and my eyes are drooping early because I didn't sleep well last night. It's dark in my house and I loathe the dark. Still, as I said before, the dark is necessary for moments like this one. Without it, my Imagination might have remained stuck in the drawer like Peter Pan's shadow... and she simply refuses to let me sew her to me for the sake of ease or efficiency.

"If it were easy," she reminds me, "No one would find it impressive." She crosses her arms and regards me with jealous eyes.

She means the writing. That's something she can't do, can't even fathom.

Oh, certainly she can harbor all the dreams. Each one bobs with the ripples in her personal dark sea, sharp white sails aloft and muti-colored flags flirting with the wind... but anchored, moored, tethered in her haven. I am envious of that, now that I'm older, and the Imagination who used to be my soul, and then my Siamese twin, has amputated herself from me and only allows me access to her personal enchantment on her whim.

I miss the days when our minds were one, when tapping into the unparalleled collection of fancies meant simply tuning out my teacher or sitting under the dining room table until my brothers forgot to keep looking for me.

But even as my Imagination weaves all day long, and even as she guards her bounty jealously (the petty little diva), only I can whip her ingredients into something palatable. Only I can pour it out on paper.

Begrudgingly, she crawls into my lap and lets me encircle her with my arms and legs, lets me press my forehead to the nape of her neck and inhale the ideas from her depths.

Recently, she's been pouting. Work and hobbies and outings and friends and travels have been keeping me from our times together. I can't blame her, I suppose, because she is forced to watch it all. She has a portal to my life, too, because occasionally I experience something worth remembering as fodder for fiction later.

"Usually," she says, smirking, "these experiences are perfectly accidental."

She's right. My adult self is clumsy and unobservant. Magic is happenstance rather than perpetual. I'm too busy to become adept at creativity. I must milk it from my resource and churn the raw product before it is ready for the table. (Please note that my Imagination is always this base and discourteous to me... she simply resents being the cow in this analogy.)

But tonight we're tired and smiling. The beginnings of an important, graceful, tender scene were imagined and written tonight. Granted, by the time anyone else sees it, much will have been pinched and poked and sculpted away into something entirely different... but a Beginning is all I can ask for on a night like this one.

And I want to give credit where it's due. My Imagination, former soul mate of mine, though often quarrelsome and troubling and a major pain in the ass, discovered Della in her recesses, and pulled back the curtain so that I could record her existence. We're very happy.