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Killing your own characters is tough.

I raised her up from the first word, I breathed life into her, and made her walk about my created world. But she has to die. She has to die for the plot to be served. And no amount of pleading will help her, either. And all characters plead to be saved, to have the last word on the page. To continue for many pages more. Their need is there. It is real. I don’t ignore them exactly. But I don’t stop either. The pen moves on and doesn’t slow down for man or woman, steamrolling them in ink and blood. My pen can cut the mighty down, the strong, the weak, the fearful, and the brave. And the plot goes on and on, wearing them all down.

“I don’t want to die,” she says, eyes wide… wider than wide.

“We all die sometime,” I say, making a B on the page.

“I don’t have to die… why can’t somebody else die?”

“The plot must be served,” I say adding a U.

“You could make me immortal,” she says the light of idea coming into her eye. “Like the girl from that one story of yours. The one with the boyfriend.”

“I cannot make you immortal anymore than I could make myself immortal," I reply looking down at my new word and trying to figure out what comes next.

“Why not? You made me! Don’t you have some responsibility to keep me safe?”

“None at all,” I say adding another word. It’s like a game of hangman now. How far can she get before I finish the sentence… can she keep me talking until my inkwell runs dry? She does not know what I know, how can she hope to survive?

“None at all!” she says. “No! No! Look, you made me… are you saying that my life has just been building up to my death? That I have no other point than this?”

“Oh course not,” I say, proudly looking down at my newly constructed string of words. “You were instrumental in the character development of the protagonist and antagonist, also you helped work in the back-story.”

She is aghast. “You can’t be so cruel! I’ll help develop them more. I’ll tell the back-story, all of it if you want. Anything. Please.”

“I wish I could.”

“But you can!”

“But I cannot. You really don’t understand,” I say. I’ve dipped my pen again. She must feel the weigh above her now because she starts crying.

“Please… please? Please!”

I finish the sentence in a stroke. There is now silence, the room is empty of her voice. My alarm clock ticks away and the wind outside goes by whispering.

“Hello?” I ask the room.

Nothing answers back.

I look down at what I’d written. It’s there in shiny black. The ink is still wet and if I crossed it out or smeared it she might come back. Instead, I blow on it a little and turn the page. Clear through to the other side, reversed but still legible, are the words:

But time would not stop for her and the story went on.


For Ann, who is not here anymore to read it.

copyright D.B. Stevens 2008