CHARACTERS • by R.D. Ronstad

The characters in my first novel refuse to be written; they think only of themselves, never of me. They keep their distance, and their own counsel. I think it’s unbecoming, really, in fictional characters, to be so standoffish — unless they’re being standoffish for the sake of the story. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on.

Why do they resist immortality anyway? Okay…that’s…probably wrong. They more likely seek immortality but don’t think I’m up to the task of dispensing it. Well, how will we ever know if they won’t even speak to me? They won’t call or write or pay a simple courtesy visit. Perhaps they fear if they did, I’d start taking notes. But really, what’s so bad about taking notes?

Maybe their minds have been poisoned against me by certain mutual acquaintances. Maybe Holden Caulfield told them I’m a big fat phony. Maybe Gregor Samsa said that I bug even him. Maybe Milton’s Satan whispered in their ears that I’m holding out on them. Maybe that Emma Bovary chick said I took advantage of her. Who knows? Anything’s possible. But they should know better, really, than to trust the words of walking lies.

Or maybe it’s that they don’t like some of the characters I associate with. Perhaps they’re too proud or fearful or squeamish to talk to someone who’s been in the company of a Rodion Raskolnikov or a Bill Sikes or a Macbeth or a Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Well, they just need to get used to living in the unreal world. That’s what I say.

My greatest fear, though, is that they’re carrying on a dalliance with some famous word wrangler. Someone who’s written a dozen novels, been nominated for or won hundreds of awards, and for years has gotten top dollar for giving talks. In short, I’m afraid they’re after a sure thing and don’t want the challenge of working with a relative unknown. That would be a severe disappointment, because that’s not the way I imagined them.

Whatever the reason for their silence, I hope they know I will always be here, waiting and hoping, with a warm heart, and open arms, and a sympathetic ear. After all, I only want what’s best for them.

So, that’s what I wrote yesterday. Then this morning after I arose, got sort of dressed, glanced in the mirror, thought about shaving, French-pressed some coffee, sat down at my desk and lifted the cover on my laptop, this appeared on the screen in the middle of the white space below what I’d written the day before:

Who are you?

So, apparently they’ve gone from ignoring me to trolling me — “trolling” because they must already know I have no answer to that question. If I did have an answer, why would I be trying to write a novel? Still though, their snark has led me to see brighter days ahead. At least now we’re communicating.

R.D. Ronstad writes mainly humor pieces and poetry. His work has appeared at Defenestration, The Big Jewel, Points in Case, CommuterLit, Rat’s Ass Review and several other online sites. A native Chicagoan, he currently lives in Phoenix, Az.

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