A failing writer, Benjamin Purefoy, had retreated into the Outeniqua mountains outside of Wilderness to make use of his Uncle’s secluded woodland cabin. There, in perfect solitude, he would attempt to craft a novel of substance and prestige. For long days on end he would sit down in front of the typewriter and rage and claw and hemorrhage, listening to the sounds of the forest and fighting for that elusive, perfect string of words – the words that would one day grasp the reader by the hand and lead them, tug them or drag them screaming into the next page and the next.

He wrestled tirelessly with the blank page and with himself, but all his fingertips seemed capable of producing were mere fractions of stories. The thin, unravelling knots of plots. His cheap, unbelievable characters broke apart into pieces and scattered into the squall like these dead forest leaves.

His back broke beneath the weight of time and expectation and the genius he knew he possessed, but just couldn’t seem to find the right words for.


The whole problem, he was told, was that he simply used too many hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian words, and it was all just too damn pretentious to bear.

“You’ll never be a famous writer,” said every human being who’d read his work. “Not like this.”

Benjamin had set out into the wild to recapture his passions and prove the naysayers wrong.

Long weeks of dysania and inefficiency passed up there upon spring’s spry bend. This all changed on the first day of the new moon when, out on a walk amongst the trees and rocks and birds, Benjamin Purefoy stumbled upon a cave, the home of a man-eating animal of sorts, and inside he found something that he believed would change his life forever.

Inside, he found love, such a simple little word, enclosed in the pages of a red leather-bound diary clutched to the chest of a half-eaten skeleton.

The next morning, by sunrise, his car was packed and he was gone, having gathered all of his belongings together during the night. The woodland cabin stood empty and silent. The pages of his ostentatious manuscript were left scattered and abandoned across the desk and floor, and when that man-eating animal of sorts came sniffing around the cabin for its stolen treasure, it found nothing at all.




You can read the full story over on Jalada’s website in their LANGUAGE anthology, or simply follow this link – Sweetheart, what have we done?


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