Characters in a Story (flash fiction)
— Do you ever feel like a character in a story? he asked.
— A character in a story? she asked.
— No, not really, she said.
— But what if our actions have already been decided, you know, written down?
— So… you think what I’m going to do tomorrow has already been written down, like it’s my fate?
— I don’t know for sure, of course. I’m just wondering.
— How you can you know for sure if you’re right or not? she asked.
— I don’t know that either, he said.
— And who’s the person writing all of this down?
— Not sure on that point, either. But I hope he has a sense of adventure and a great sense of humor.
— He? she asked. Why he? What if this grand author is a woman?
— I don’t know if that would make much difference. Do women authors write more than characters pining for true love in fields and on hilltops strewn with wildflowers?
— Of course, you dope. A woman wrote Frankenstein, after all.
— True. Frankenstein’s monster is one of literature’s greatest creations.
— But was he really a monster, or simply a misunderstood creature? she asked.
— Aren’t they the same thing?
— Of course not. But what’s important is that he had a will of his own. Separate from his creator, the doctor.
— Okay, he said. But the author controlled both of them. And I wonder if an author controls our thoughts and our actions.
— If so, then all your thinking has already been written down. Including your meditation over if you’re a character in a story.
— Good point. I guess that’s more a sense of humor than a sense of adventure.
— Suppose so, she said. But are you laughing with the joke?
— Not really, no. Same with all the mistakes that I keep repeating.
— Repeating your mistakes?
— Happens a lot. Kind of like telling the same joke over and over again.
— What about the same joys? she asked. Does your happiness repeat, too?
— Oh, sure, he said. I suppose there’s an attempt at balance there.
— But all good stories have drama in them. You have to have danger for it to be exciting.
— There’s where the sense of adventure comes in.
— And what kind of story is yours? Horror? Comedy? Romance?
— A little of everything, I suppose. Lots of various things. What kind of story would you write if you were the one writing it?
— If I was writing my own story? she asked.
— I suppose it would be a little of everything. Keep it from getting boring. I’d rather write it myself. But maybe it’s written by someone else. Who knows? As long as it’s not written by one of those loony post-modern authors.
— Post-modern authors? he asked.
— Yep. The ones that don’t capitalize properly and use dashes instead of quotation marks, like Joyce did. I can’t stand that pretentious, experimental, post-modern crap.
— Is it pretentious to say Joyce instead of James Joyce?
— Possibly, she said. But you get my meaning.
— True. What was there before post-modern? Just simply modern?
— Stories that made sense. Stories that flowed from one event to the next, and it all fit together nicely. It’s nice to have stories where everything makes sense. And those stories have well-rounded characters, not flat pieces of cardboard that merely serve a purpose in the author’s puppetry.
— Sometimes I feel that way. A flat piece of cardboard. Just a guy with hunger and thirst, bouncing from boring times to exciting ones and back again.
— That’s a boring way to describe life.
— But I didn’t really think or say that. It was written for me.