THE TORTURED LIFE OF A TEEN PROTAGONIST • by Cheryl Zaidan

The young adult protagonist sat patiently in front of her bedroom mirror, waiting for the author to write her. As she brushed her long brown hair, she stared critically at her reflection. She thought of herself as quite plain, although everyone thought she was beautiful, but even though she was beautiful, she had to believe she was plain. It was the rule.

Her eyes were big and of an unusual color. Her skin was porcelain except for a light smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose but sometimes they disappeared when the author forgot to write them in. The nose and chin were standard issue.

Eventually the author came in with her usual hurried unkempt appearance, coffee mug in hand.

“I have it now,” she said, taking a sip from her mug. “Two guys are fighting over you.”

“Again?” The girl sighed wearily and put her head down onto the desk. 

“It’s going to be different this time. This time it’s… wait for it,” the author took another sip. “It’s vampires.”

“AGAIN?”

“What’s wrong with vampires? I thought you liked vampires.”

“Screw vampires!” the girl cried.

“That’s the general idea,” said the author.

“But it’s necrophilia. Can’t I have a human this time around?”

“How can it be necrophilia?” The author spilled some of the liquid from her mug onto the floor. The stain showed red against the cream-colored carpet. It wasn’t coffee she’d been drinking. 

“But they’re the undead.” The girl sighed in exasperation.

“That means ‘not dead’ dearest,” the author replied as she unsuccessfully tried to pull a pencil from the mess of hair she had piled on top of her head. After a few attempts she just left it there.

The protagonist crossed the room and absentmindedly kicked at a stack of albums that were piled nearby. She would much rather be listening to J-pop but the author said that wasn’t “edgy enough” so she was stuck listening to the Ramones on vinyl. She hated it.

“Okay, honey, let’s come up with something better. I’ll get rid of the love triangle, but you have to fall in love with a paranormal. Deal?”

The girl threw her brush to the ground and stomped over to the bed. There was a teddy bear that was always there. She didn’t remember why she had it or where she had gotten it but it was a teen girl’s room, so it had to be there. She grabbed the bear and held it tightly to her chest.

The author ignored the girl’s anger and looked up at the ceiling, brow furrowed in thought.

“Okay, how about a werewolf?” she asked.

The girl stuck her tongue out. “Ugh, bestiality.” She threw the teddy bear onto the lace comforter, wrinkling her nose in disgust.

“How about an ancient Egyptian mummy?” The author smiled widely. She was obviously proud of herself for coming up with that one.

“Too old,” the girl replied. “Like a 5000-year-old dude is going to like, meet me in high school or something?”

“Of course not. He’d inhabit the body of a young man, who would be his reincarnation, and you could be his lost love or something.”

“You just made that up.” The girl glared.

“That’s what I do,” replied the author, not unkindly, as she tugged at the dirty t-shirt she was wearing. The girl noticed it was the same one the author had been wearing every day that week. That was probably okay as she doubted the author ever left the house anyways.

The author sighed. “Okay, you hate all my ideas, tell me what YOU want.”

The girl smiled for the first time.

“I want to have adventures. I don’t want my identity to be dependent on a man. I don’t want two guys fighting over me. I DO NOT WANT TO BE THE CHOSEN ONE. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want others to be able to see themselves in me and in turn I want to see myself in them. I want to be real!”

The author remained quiet for some time. She had finally managed to dislodge the pencil from her hair and was tapping it against her chin as she thought. Finally, she spoke.

“Just for that, you’re getting three dudes and one of them is going to be a werewolf/vampire hybrid.” She tossed the pencil to the ground and walked out, slamming the door as she did so.

The girl went back to staring at her plain beautiful face in the mirror again. Then she picked up the pencil from the floor. She was going to write her own story.


Cheryl Zaidan is a full-time marketer, part-time writer and diehard dreamer. She currently resides in Michigan where she is working on her first novel.


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