Someone knocked on my front door. From my bedroom window I could see a dash of blonde hair but nothing else. Another knock. And again. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.
When I opened the door she pushed inside, grabbed me by the throat and shoved me against the exposed brick wall. She loomed over me. She was dressed in brown leather boots and trousers with a sky blue linen shirt and two wide leather straps across her chest. She looked familiar. Her hair shifted revealing two pointed ears. That along with her aquiline features confirmed it.
“Do you know me?” she asked, squeezing my throat.
“…Yes…” I said. Her name was embarrassingly similar to a creature in Harry Potter so let’s just call her V. She was the main character of my first attempt at a novel, started when I was ten years old.
She let go of my throat and I felt my hair and clothes tear away from the bricks like Velcro.
“Do you know why I’m here?” V asked.
“I don’t know how you’re here,” I said.
“You never finished my story.”
“Oh.” Was that a logical explanation for why someone, who didn’t rightly exist, was standing in my hallway? If so, how many more visitors could I expect this week?
“What do you want?”
“I want you to finish my story.”
“It won’t take long, only a few more thousand words. You’ve written fifty thousand words in one month before.”
“How do you know that?” I raised my hand to my head. Suddenly every character I’d ever half-dreamed up was there, having tea parties, playing golf and scrutinizing my every move.
V threw up her hands and groaned. She ducked into my bedroom, returning with my laptop and charger cable and set them up at the end of the IKEA dining table.
“There,” she said. She came back over and steered me to the laptop by the shoulders and forced me into the chair, “Get to work.”
“But I don’t even write fantasy anymore,” I said.
She scoffed, “Then what do you write?”
“I write… I try to write… literary fiction.”
She laughed out loud, “The last half decent thing you wrote had a talking dog.”
“I was making a statement.”
“So was the dog.”
I turned on the laptop, “Wouldn’t you rather wait until I was a better writer. I haven’t even been published yet.”
“I don’t care about that,” she said, standing over me.
“What do you care about?”
“Look, I had a happy life when I was a kid. Mum, Dad, my pet phoenix. But you killed them.”
“Not the Phoenix.”
“Then you sent me to live in some backwards tree dwelling town with my hick relatives but even that didn’t last long. You sent me on an adventure, telling me I was going to save the world. And then what do you do?”
“Nothing. So get writing.”
I still had the story after all these years. Buried deep in a system of folders. 7652 words. I’d thought that was massive when I wrote it. I scanned the document. By the end of the almost 8000 words V had been made an orphan, moved in with relatives who were actually strangers living in a foreign culture, received a prophecy, set out on a quest, outwitted orcs and a lake spirit, been gifted with a magical sword, lost her Phoenix, was reunited with her Phoenix, and parted ways with her cousin Swan. Now what? The prophecy didn’t stand as much of a road map, it was just a plot device to get her out the door.
V was rummaging through my fridge and emerged with a Coke which she popped and sculled.
“Can you make me a coffee?” I asked.
“Does that mean you’ll finish my story?”
“I suppose it does.” My fingers skittered over the keyboard as I began to write, ideas coming quick and delicious.
V brought me my coffee and pulled over a chair to sit beside me.
“Don’t look!” I snapped, “Don’t look until it’s done.”
“Fine,” she said, picking up the sword and scabbard she had hung on the coat stand and strapping it around her hips, “I’ll be back.”
I delved into the story. I’d missed it, fantasy, the fights and magic and monsters. V and Swan ended up dual protagonists. Would be friends caught on opposite sides of the fight. It was harrowing stuff. Six hours later it was finished. I spoiled myself with a glass of $15 Sauvignon Blanc. When I heard V come in I poured her a wine as well.
“What do you think?” I asked, offering her the glass.
“You killed me,” she said, “I’m dead.”
I put the wine back on the bench, “Well, yes. But you save Swan…”
“I hate Swan.”
“I didn’t want to reconcile.”
“It was heroic, tragic… you asked for an ending.”
“I didn’t mean this.”
“Tough,” I said, “This is the ending I wrote, so this is the ending you get.”
V drew her sword and levelled it at my throat, “Rewrite it.”