1. being only partly in existence or operation : incipient; especially : imperfectly formed or formulated: formless, incoherent

Everything was planned.

It had taken the better half of last year and the beginning of this year, but in a matter of hours, everything would be wrapped up. He would finally be done. There were just a few errands he had to run. One of which was returning a book to the library.

It was his obsessive nature that would cause him to do something like this on today of all days. His first therapist said he had a fear of success and relied on his obsessive nature as a way of limiting his possibilities. She said that’s why he never finished anything he started.

No, he hadn’t finished half the projects in his house. Yes, he’d given up on his bachelor’s degree during freshman year. And he still had yet to finish any of his novels. He always got down to the last quarter of the book and stalled, not knowing how to end it. But this he could do. He planned to stop off at the drugstore before heading home to write one final note, but first he needed to return this book.

Five years ago he’d gone through an elaborate scheme to successfully steal one book, his muse, The Grapes of Wrath. With that book near him, he felt like writing something of that caliber was more attainable. And at one point it almost was…at least in his mind. But his new therapist questioned the validity of his rationale. Returning the book seemed only right. He wasn’t going to need it any longer.

He dried his hands on his jeans. Now he was sweating just as much as when he had originally stolen the ninth edition copy.

“Excuse me…”

He turned around to see who was speaking.

“Down here…”

A kid in a wheelchair stared up at him.

“Would you mind handing me this book off the shelf?”

The kid handed him a scrap of paper with letters and numbers scrawled on it.

“Can you hurry? I told the librarian I didn’t need any help, and I don’t want him coming to look for me–guy gives me the creeps.”

He found the book quickly. The call number was one he’d memorized a month after taking the book to his house. He pulled down the book he had just placed on the shelf.

“A heavy book for a pithy youth?”

“I like your vocabulary,” the kid said with a lopsided grin. “But I guess you have to know a bunch of words to be a writer.”

“You guessed I was a writer based on my vocabulary?”

“And the fact that you have ink stains on your right hand, but your left hand is spotless.”

“You’re smart, kid.”

“I’m observant, but my therapist thinks my obsession with details is going to prevent me from accomplishing anything meaningful with my life… Can you hand me that book, now?”

“Oh, yeah…”

He tossed the book to the kid. It seemed fitting to pass along his former muse to someone younger, leaving an inheritance for the next generation.

“Only believe half of what your therapist says, kid, they’re usually the ones who need to be on the couch talking to someone, they just never get the chance.”

The kid laughed too loud for the library.

“You’re smart, old man,” the kid said, grinning.

“I’m not that old.”

“You look like you’re 27, but I’m 14, so you’re old to me… but yeah, I’d guess you’ve got a long life to live and lots of books to write as you live it.”

He pondered the words of someone who was spot-on about his age, but knew fewer details about him than his therapist.

“When you’re famous, old man, I’m going to look you up and see if you can get me a gold-plated wheelchair… or a new spine, whichever is more expensive.”

The kid had a weird sense of humor.

“What’s your name, old man?”

He laughed.

“Andrew. Yours, kid?”

The kid’s eyes brightened with amusement.

“The same. But you can call me kid. I like that as much as I like calling you old man.”

Andrew wheeled his chair away from the bookshelf and pivoted.

“Keep writing, old man,”Andrew said with his lopsided grin. “You’re giving me hope that 27 could look pretty decent.”

And just like that Andrew’s plan withered into an inchoate idea, as heavy and permanent as the morning fog in the light of dawn. Just another incomplete project. With those plans laid to waste, a small rumbling began in the back of his mind, a sliver of a thought for an ending to a book he’d never considered writing until now.

*This story was inspired by Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day.

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