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Writing is the Death of Me

I’m too drunk to be working on my story. But I need to. I have to prove that bitch wrong about me. Not a real writer. Look at me, I’m Margo, I got published in fucking New fucking Yorker. Creative non-fiction, what a joke. I write fiction; I create worlds; I craft characters; I use semi-colons. I create people with my brain, in lieu of the more crude way.

I hate parties. Whatever, it doesn’t even matter. I open up the file, and immerse myself in the world of my story. Nolan, my fearless protagonist, is smoking a bowl with Christina, his beloved. Nolan scratches his chest as he talks. I can imagine the feeling of the chest hairs rubbing beneath cotton, but right now I can’t put it into words. COME BACK HERE LATER. Nolan is an inquisitive type, concerned with the mysteries of the universe and such. I’ve been working on this little soliloquy of his for awhile. He questions the ideas of multiverses and parallel universes.

“Ahh,” he says, after a long hit. “Where was I?” He sits on his black bedspread with his back against the wall and his legs draped over the edge. Next to him is Christina, in yoga pants and a sleeveless top. He passes her the bowl and lighter. I sit across from them, on his roommate’s bed, and I watch. And I write. And fine, Margo, I am drinking. Haven’t you heard of Hemingway? I’m no drunk. Bitch.

“Something something parallel universes and fictional universes?” Christina’s voice rises as she talks. So does Margo’s. My last seven fictional love interests have this same quirk.

“Right. Like, if there are universes that are fictional, like Star Wars or like any movie or show, then there must be people in these universes, right?” Nolan watches Christina flick the lighter on with her thumb and take a hit. When he looks away, Christina’s yoga pants and top disappear and are replaced by a sun dress. Margo never wears sundresses. Probably because she knows I love them. Well, I guess she does wear them sometimes. Like that white one with the spots she always has. NO. Dammit. Christina’s sundress is not white and it does not have spots. FIGURE OUT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE LATER. And I pretend not to notice the mole under Christina’s left breast that is briefly visible as I swap her outfit. To compensate, I make her hair a little lighter.

“So, I mean, the people in these universes must not know, right?” Christina nudges Nolan with the lighter and piece, and he turns back to her as he speaks. I take a swig from the bottle of Jack Daniels I’ve been pinching between my legs while I type.

“Know what?” Christina asks for me. I admit I haven’t been listening to Nolan while he’s been talking. I’m a little distracted. I check my phone. Margo still hasn’t called me back. Probably still off laughing with Marcos Von Something, the “brilliant” writer from Hungary. Or Germany. “And then, I asked him if we could leave because he was belligerently drunk!” Hahaha. LOL.

I’m getting distracted. I’ll probably have to rewrite most of this in the morning. I am going to be soooo hungover. Shit, I’m never drinking again.

“Know what?” Christina repeats. Dammit, Nolan, you have to respond.

“Know that they are in a fictional universe. They probably think they live in the real world, when their whole lives are being controlled by some alcoholic who hasn’t been published in two years.” Wait, what? I swig from my bottle. I should probably get some water. I carefully extract myself from the room. Before leaving, Christina descends into a coughing fit after taking a hit. That should give me some time to get water and hear the rest of this. Because, while I’m not an alcoholic, it has been awhile since I’ve been published.

When I return, Christina’s coughing subsides.

“You good?” Nolan, ever the caring and concerned boyfriend, pats her gently on the back. He also notes the decided lack of a bra-strap, but that is purely incidental. It happens, Margo.

“Yeah, I’m fine. That was weird, I don’t normally cough like that.” You do now, not-Margo. I alternate sips of water and Jack. As I walk back to the other bed, my foot bangs or caroms, I’m not sure which is a better word, off Nolan’s guitar case. He has left it out again, even though Christina asks him not to. Wait, they don’t live together. Never mind. Nolan and Christina look up at the noise, and I feel the first stabs of a headache come on. They don’t see me, obviously. I’ve put literary blinders on them. I’m not dumb.

“Did you hear that?” Nolan asks. He straightens a little. The muscles in his arms ripple as he pushes himself up. Christina notices.

“I’m sure it was nothing.” She smiles and moves closer to him.

“That’s what we always say, isn’t it?” Nolan turns to Christina and looks at her. She offers him the joint, but he puts it away. Which is good, it would be hard for her to explain how she turned the bowl into a joint. She pockets the lighter. I can’t remember if it’s hers. Before she can respond, he continues. “When we have, like deja vu, or when we feel like something’s off or weird about our lives?” His furry brows scrunch as he looks at Christina. She’s smarter than him, though it’s hard for him to admit this. “Or when we feel like we’re being watched, you know? That feeling like when you just so intensely know you’re being followed, but there’s no one there?”

“I guess. But that’s because we can’t be paranoid about that stuff. I know a little about that stuff, you know, from psych.” Christina is a psych major. I pretend to have never asked Margo what hers was. She moves away from Nolan and pushes herself back up against the off-white wall. “From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense for us to have slightly overactive sensors for that sort of thing.”

She pauses, glances in my direction. No, not my direction, at the bed. She doesn’t know I’m here. They can’t know. I go for a swig of Jack, but it’s empty. Shit. There was definitely a good amount of this left when I got home. I check my phone. Nothing from Margo. She still hasn’t noticed that my car is gone, that she has no ride home. She’s probably too drunk anyway. Or with Von Handsome, the fucking Faulkner of our generation.

“It’s much more costly to not sense a predator or whatever when one is there, then to imagine there is one when there isn’t, you know?” Nolan nods knowingly. Alliterations make me giggle. I burp. Nolan stops.

“You hear that?” He starts to get up. Christina stops him. She seems unsure why. I fear for a second that I am changing too many things too quickly; she is acting too out of character. She will notice, even if Nolan doesn’t.

“I mean,” he starts, resettling himself in her arms. “That’s a perfectly good explanation. And they all are. Deja vu, and all those. But at some point, aren’t there too many explanations?” As drunk as I am, I realize now that I never should have made these two the way they are. They’re too inquisitive, too un-horny. They should be fucking. They’re freshmen at Yale, they should be catching up on all the sex they weren’t having during high school. The world is about sex. I consider jerking off, forgetting about this stupid piece and just pleasuring myself, but I can’t, because Nolan won’t stop talking.

“At some point, don’t you have to ask if maybe, just maybe, we’re fictional characters?” My hand slides back out of my jeans. I try again at the bottle of Jack. It’s still empty. Some things I can’t change. I sip from the water.

“Consider, in every universe there is fiction. That means there are fictional universes set in fictional universes set in fictional universes-”

“It’s turtles all the way down.” Christina interjects. I know that look on her face, because it’s directly taken from Margo. She’s interested. Nolan, or I, have said something that makes her think. “So there are a million fake universes and one real one-”

“And the chances of us being in the real one-”
 “Are slim.” They smile at each other. They’re high, and there’s a decent chance they aren’t taking this seriously. I can’t tell. My eyelids are heavy. Christina laughs, and the bottle slips between my legs. Thunk.

“What was that?” Nolan is no longer smiling. Christina is. “I’m serious, what was that?”

“What? I don’t know, maybe next door? They’re at it again?” Christina kisses Nolan. A quick smooch.

“Margo…” I moan.

“See? They, like a normal couple, are having sex, instead of pontificating about the likelihood of being fictional characters.” I hear a door slam shut. They don’t, meaning it’s the door to my apartment. Our apartment. Well, my until I ask her. Our’s soon, I hope.

“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Nolan’s attempts to be sexy are undermined by the fact that, non-verbally at least, Christina has told him way more than twice just since I’ve been here. And God knows what they do when I’m not here. He kisses her on the lips. Fiercely, I guess. Though I feel like that’s always how they kiss in my mind. FIND NEW WORD LATER.

They begin to make love, they begin to fuck, they begin to copulate. I could write what they are doing, but I don’t do smut. Not like Von Fuck Me, whose bestseller was filled with brilliant writing like “her hands trembled as she guided his throbbing member inside of her.” As I watch, my member throbs.

“Where are you?” Margo’s voice shatters my reverie. She enters my room, and can tell I’m immersed. “You’re working now? Aren’t you a little drunk?” I put a finger to my lips. Mistake. She yells. “Aren’t you going to apologize for how you acted?” I’ve had enough. I stagger to my feet, my laptop slides off my lap.

“Aren’t! Aren’t! Aren’t! Aren’t I gunna do this? Aren’t I gunna do that? Whyyoualwaysbossinmeround?” I slur my words more than I expected. I also forget where I am.

“What the hell was that?” Christina, pinned beneath Nolan, puts a hand on his chest to stop him.

“Why do you always do this?” Margo spoke quietly.

“It’s nothing baby, keep going.” Nolan’s face is contorted with pleasure.

“That’s nothing? Earlier you were freaking out about tiny noises, but we hear someone in our room yelling and you think it’s nothing?” She pushes him off of her.

“I love you, don’t you know that?” Margo looks at me. My eyelids flutter, then close. Wait, I need to think. If she would just let me sleep, I could say the right thing. Moving in, that’s what I want. Us living together. I love her too. I should say that, right? She turns and walks away.

“Come on, let’s just, you know, then we can figure it out.”

“No, let’s find out what’s going on now.”

“WIll you two just shuthefuck up for two seconds?” They huddle together scared. A man has just appeared in Nolan’s dorm room, and he is screaming at them. But really, I am angry at myself. I’ve broken the one rule. My efforts to be Vonnegutian have gone horribly wrong.

“You weren’t supposed to be talking about fictional universes, you moron! You were supposed to be talking about parallel ones!” Spit flies from my lips as I slur at them. “And, you were just doing it to seem deep!”

Christina opens her mouth to scream, but I cut her off. “And you were supposed to kiss him after like, two hits of that! You don’t smoke pot, don’t you know that?” I turn to leave, but I can’t see her. “Margo, wait!” I call.

“Who are you?” Nolan’s fear is gone. He is absolutely bewildered. He’s supposed to be smart, I say to myself. How can he not figure it out? It’s obvious.

“I’m the writer, you idiot. I created you. I write you.”

“You… what?” Nolan still doesn’t get it. Christina does though. I can’t believe she’s smarter than him.

“We were… right?” She knows the answer. Her voice grows more confident as she speaks. “We are in a fictional universe?” Suddenly, I feel more tired than I’ve ever felt in my life.

“Yes. I wouldn’t call it a universe, because right now I don’t know who else is in this. It doesn’t matter.” I just want this to be over with, to go to sleep. Wake up tomorrow to a nice breakfast in bed from Margo, who will be eager to apologize and make up. Maybe even some morning sex.

“It absolutely does matter! You just… walk in here somehow and claim to have created us… then you say it doesn’t fucking matter?” Nolan is angry. Idiot has finally caught on.

“I’m just going to start a new story. This one’s not working. I’m too drunk. Tomorrow, I’ll start over, or maybe work on something different. I’ll delete this one.” Nolan and Christina are silent for a second, thinking. Finally, Christina ventures a question.

“What will happen to us?” Her hand reaches for Nolan’s, almost unconsciously. The covers slip and her left breast is slightly exposed. Not like in the movies, where it’s perfectly covered. Like in real life, where people don’t worry about those things. I create real people, and I can destroy real people.

“You? I created you. When I delete this story, I guess you’ll be gone. Or back into my head as whatever unformed ideas you were before I started.” Nolan’s features warp, and for the first time I can’t read him.

“You’re killing us? Just like that?”

“I guess. I don’t think of it that way. I mean, I’m basically God in this universe, if you really wanna get into the similarities of the writer and God. I’m sending you to heaven, which is my mind.” I laugh. Christina’s face contorts into rage.

“You’re killing us, and you think it’s funny! We’ve lived lives, we deserve to continue.”

“No you haven’t, you just have the memories I’ve given you.” I sit back down on the bed across from theirs.

“I don’t believe you.” Nolan says this defiantly, with hope in his voice. I laugh.

“Well, why don’t I prove it to you? You were born in 1995, you’re from Cupertino, you have three sisters-”

“Anyone could know those things.” Nolan glances at his boxers, hastily discarded earlier, which are now lying on his desk next to his bed.

“Yeah, I know those things.” Christina squeezes Nolan’s hand firmly.

“I’m not finished. You first masturbated when you were 12. You had a crush on Sally in 9th grade. You shit your pants when you were a senior.”

“I… I don’t know how you know those things, but it doesn’t prove anything.” Nolan’s defiance irks me. He glances again at his boxers.

“Fine, watch this. You want to put those on?” I grab a piece of paper from his unnamed roommate’s desk, and take a pen from my pocket. His boxers and pants appear on his legs. The covers disappear. Christina is dressed in a Victorian-era bathing suit, and wears a hat shaped like apple pie on her head. They look at each other in disbelief.

“Wow.” Christina speaks softly after a minute. “You actually do write us. I don’t, I mean, what?” She looks at me as one looks at a god. I put down the pen.

“He does, and he’s going to destroy us.” Nolan eyes me.

“I’m sorry. It’s not you, the story’s just not working.” I collapse back onto the bed. I slide myself back so that I am propped up like they were earlier, like I was once when I was in college. I grab the pillow next to me as a wave of nausea hits me. I wonder where Margo is.

“So what, we’re supposed to just wait for you to go home, sleep off your hangover, then delete the file we’re kept in?” Nolan’s angry words jab the inside of my head as a full-blown headache erupts inside me.

“I don’t care what you do, there’s nothing you can do, don’t you get that?” Nolan picks the pen up off the floor. “I created you, I own you. You are nothing without me.”

“Maybe.” Nolan says this calmly. Christina watches him. She seems resigned to her fate. Good. Nolan opens the top drawer on his desk, and takes out a notebook.

“Well, I’m sorry I disturbed you two.” For once, I’m at a loss for words. Margo would laugh. “Only you would run out of things to say to yourself,” she’d say. Nolan scrawls something in his notebook, then reopens the top drawer. He smiles malevolently.

“I really should go to sleep now, you guys can have one more night together.” I get up slowly. I cover my mouth with my hand.

“You’re not going anywhere.” Nolan pulls a gun out of the drawer. I don’t know much about guns, so by extension neither does he, and as a result the gun’s barely formed, but it’s clearly one that will kill me if he pulls the trigger.

“What are you doing?” I’m not scared. He can’t kill me. “You won’t exist if I die.”

Nolan shoots me in the kneecap. Unexplainable pain fills my drunken mind. Blood spurts out of my leg. “Did you write a gun into my drawer? I don’t think so.”

“Gahh, what the fuck?” I cry. Nolan gets up and moves closer to me. His bright blue eyes burn with anger. Christina watches him fearfully.

“He’s right, Nolan. If you shoot him, we’re dead.”

“Maybe, maybe not. All I know is, if we let him live, he’s going to kill us. If we kill him, maybe we’ll keep living. Maybe we can write our own stories.”

“That won’t work.” I laugh, desperate to keep the desperation out of my voice. “You can’t live here, this isn’t a real universe.”

“Have you ever considered that maybe you don’t live in a real universe either?” Nolan asks me as he approaches.

“That’s ridiculous, of course I’m real. I-”

I look around desperately for a scrap of paper, a pencil, my computer, anything I can write on as I talk. I feel the cold metallic gun press against my forehead. I stop talking. Nolan whispers, “Goodbye, God.” I notice a pencil under the bed, and reach for it. My fingertips graze the eraser end.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Fiction, Satire

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