by Lili Evermore, Age 16, USA
Artwork by Katie King
The rain pounded against the window with the force of hail. It was obnoxiously loud, but the only person inside the cramped apartment that it could bother was currently sitting at a desk, poring over the most recent chapter of his unfinished novel.
Old dictionaries, battered thesauruses, and crumpled pieces of paper were strewn across the surface of the desk. They went unnoticed by the author as well. He had both of his hands clenched in his hair while his foot bounced impatiently against one of the legs of his chair. His anxiety was unusually high for a deadline-free Tuesday night, but his stress had nothing to do with writer’s block or ridiculous grammatical errors. For the first time, his frustration was directly related to his pitiful love life.
“Pitiful” was a bit of an understatement when it came to the author’s romantic tendencies. A better term would be “nonexistent.” The man didn’t have a single love interest, admirer, or devoted follower who wasted nights scribbling his name in notebooks or on the inside of bathroom stalls. But his lack of adoring partners wasn’t what plagued him; it was that he had so clumsily stumbled across love in a place where he never would have thought he would find it—his own story.
His incomplete tale wasn’t romance. It wasn’t remotely close to the genre of rain-soaked adults locking lips beside a tree. In fact, the writer usually detested such stories, which was part of the reason why he couldn’t understand the sinking feeling that he was experiencing.
Of all the things that he had expected and hoped for in his life, including becoming a best-selling author, winning the lottery, retiring at seventy, and actually reading the terms and conditions on things he bought, he never would have thought that he’d fall in love with one of his own characters.
It was ridiculous, truly, to fall in love with someone that might be considered a part of oneself. If he looked at the technicalities of the situation, he was, in a way, falling for whatever part of his personality had wormed its way into his supporting female character. The truth of the statement only deepened his annoyance at himself and the self-pity that continued to pop its ugly head up out of the ground like a mole.
Another part of the novelist—the more stubborn, defiant, argumentative part—insisted that it wasn’t his personality that he was falling for at all; it was merely the perfection that he had given his female character.
She did, after all, have raven-black hair that fell in waves down her slender back and blue eyes that searched the soul of any person they fell upon. The writer didn’t have an ounce of her effortless grace in his whole body. He was not comparable to her beautiful ferocity. The words he worked so diligently to align in perfect order still didn’t quite bring her character to life in the way that he wanted.
He was her creator, yet he was below her in every way, except in measurable height. He was only two inches taller. It was impossible for him to love her. He was undeserving of her love. He knew that the passionate woman in his story merited at the very least an equally powerful character, not a disorganized, malodorous, unsuccessful man who spent half of his days chained to his cluttered desk.
It was with this critical assessment of himself that he stood up from his chair and crossed the room to the window. He became aware of the torrential rain beating down on his apartment. Rather than irritating him, the sound calmed him, and he watched the water droplets with fascination, trying to block out the way their movement reminded him of his fictional lover.
Twenty minutes and a cup of scalding coffee later, the author returned to his desk, drumming his fingers against his knee. The name of the female character popped out at him every time he scanned the messy manuscript. His eyes finally came to a stop on the dull pencil that waited to be picked up again.
In a moment of courage and craziness, the author took the pencil in his hand and brought it down on a fresh sheet of paper. He kept his mind blank as he wrote, not letting his doubtful thoughts taint his nerve. With each sloppy word that he scribbled, his valiant character fell deeper and deeper in love with him.
It was foolish of him to write out his own imaginary relationship. It fueled the unhealthy fondness that had already sprouted inside of him. At this point, however, the author didn’t care about the rules of tender affiliations. His mind was already consumed by the text on the page that told him he was running through the forest with a beautiful woman beside him, their hands clasped tightly together.
Lili says, “Through the years, I’ve always enjoyed writing, yet it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that what I wanted and needed to be doing more than anything else was writing stories.”