“In Pursuit of Originality” by John Ralston

It was a dark and…

“No, no, no! You can’t write that, you idiot, that’s plagiarism!” screamed my editor.

Four score and seven…

“That’s Abraham Lincoln, you dolt!” he shrieked.

We writers often worry about the health of our editor. Namely, about whether it has lasted too long. Ahem, back to the perfect beginning.

Call me…

“I swear,” exclaimed the editor (frequently, I might add) “if you try to copy the opening of Moby Dick, I’ll wring your throat until it’s dry!”

“Actually, I’m already pretty thirsty, could you bring me a glass of water,” I questioned innocently.

I have to admit, you had to give the man credit for a sense of humor. He did such a spot-on impersonation of disbelief that I had to laugh out loud and slap him on the shoulder for being alright.

“Thanks,” I finally managed between rollicking gasps. “Plenty of ice, please.”

As I returned to my desk, my mind continued to search for the perfect story. Already days had passed since my last article and word of my deficiency of ideas was starting to spread. It seemed that everything I came up with had already been taken. Since I held the job of investigative journalist, I decided maybe I should try looking for some facts for a change.

At that moment, trouble walked through the door. Her eyes were like pupils. Golden curls, red high-heel shoes, and pouty lips that were constantly smirking completed the outfit. Bringing all my occasionally sufficient intelligence to bear, I deduced that it was a woman. She made a beeline for my desk.

“I hear you’re looking for a story, sugar,” she said, her voice drifting over the room like sweet molasses on a yam.

“Uh…um, well, haha, rmmhph,” I suavely replied, merely capsizing three coffee mugs and two piles of papers in my attempt to strike a casual pose.

“Can I sit down?” she smiled.

Correctly interpreting my unintelligible noises and inability to achieve eye contact with her as “Yes, oh please, yes!” she took a seat opposite mine and began to tell her engrossing tale.

“About two days ago, you remember, it was dark and…”

“Nope, you can’t say that,” I interrupted.

Startled, she blinked a few times before continuing her report.

“Anyway, I was at my nephew’s hockey game and the score was four to seven…”

“Can’t say that either, you copycat!” I accidentally shouted.

Somewhat rattled by my interruptions, the lady stood up, fidgeting nervously with her curls, giving me the look one makes when trying to decide if dolphins count as an intelligent lifeform. For my part, I had already decided that they didn’t, but I was curious as to what made her think of them at a time like this.

“Well, if you decide you want the story, you can call me…”

“No, no, no! You can’t say that, it’s plagiarism!” I yelled, kindly.

After she had left (my companions preferred the term “fled”), I leaned back at my desk, bemoaning the lack of originality some people display. They just never learn. Ah, now back to my perfect, original, opening.

These are the voyages…


Photograph made available by Noah Näf via Unsplash

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