The trouble with having no inspiration, Kasey thought, is that you want to get something done, and try though you might, nothing happens.
His desk was a shambles of books, pens, cards, headphones, rulers, and stacks of paper. The few spots of wood that could be seen between the rubbish were all covered with a thin layer of grime. His printer was out of ink, and the flashing indicator light was giving him a headache, as was his computer's psychedelic screen saver.
It was too early in the day for this, Kasey decided, staring dejectedly at the mess he faced. It was too early to be faced with no ideas and no way out. He had homework to do, sure, but that was a constant. He wanted to do something special, something artsy, but the one day he got up the guts to get out his supplies, the inspiration abandoned him, leaving him looking like a messy idiot.
A few hours later saw him cleaning up his mess with a skulky look on his face. Upstairs, his mother was making lasagna and singing some song from the sixties that made Kasey want to scream. It wasn't that his mother didn't have a good singing voice, it was just that she sang the same few bars again and again, and it was somehow just so annoying.
"Honey?" she called.
"Yes, mom?" Kasey shouted back upstairs.
"Come up here!"
Kasey groaned. All of a sudden, he was furious, like a switch had been flipped in the wrong direction. He stomped up the stairs to the kitchen.
"What is it?"
His mother's smile fell a little as she sensed the venom in his words. "I was just wondering what you were doing," she said, smiling. "I was getting a little lonely up here." She spoke in the voice they used to both use with each other when Kasey was little, but he wasn't little any more, and now it just bothered him.
"I was trying to work on a project," he said, aware even as he spoke of the self-importance in his voice. A small frown tugged at the corners of his mother's cheeks.
"Well," she started, "I could use a little help up here." Kasey sighed, and anger flashed across his mother's face, anger that was held in check by a careful disposition. "Sit down at the counter."
Kasey did as he was told, making more of an effort out of it than need be. He yawned and sighed, and glared. "Could you read me the recipe? Going back and forth is impossible."
She was trying, trying so hard, but Kasey wasn't understanding. He muttered directions without looking at her, keeping his eyes glued to the page.
Finally, as she had to, she snapped.
"You know what, maybe you should just go about your business," his mother said quickly, snatching up the book. Kasey felt something akin to shame in his chest, even if he wasn't aware of why just yet.
"No, we're fine," he insisted half-heartedly, leaning on the countertop. He felt so tired when he was around her.
She was mad now, and he realized it a moment too late. "No, you go on and leave. I wanted to do this together, but I can see that you're not in the mood."
Kasey tried to rectify the situation with a quick, "I'm sorry, Mom--"
"No, just go. Get out of the kitchen, go do whatever you were doing; I'm sorry I disrupted your activities."
"I'm sorry, Mom, can't we start over? I wasn't thinking, and I really do want to help."
She was at her wit's end. "No, you don't, that's the problem. You never think, you never want to help. Rather than pitch in and do something, you sit around and mope and feel sorry for yourself. I was having a perfectly good day, and then you came in with your attitude, and--fine, if you want to be that way, that's your choice, but I don't need you doing that to my day." She turned her back on Kasey and braced herself on the counter, the lasagna standing half-finished on the counter. Kasey moved towards her, but she barked at him to leave.
Back in the basement, Kasey sat in his chair, staring at his clean desk. He could hear his mother moving around upstairs, talking to herself. That was harder than the singing because he knew it was about him. About his faults, his bad deeds. It wasn't annoying; he felt ashamed. Kasey's cheeks were on fire.
He tried to think of something that he could do, but to no avail: he had no inspiration whatsoever.