I have no idea where this came from. Probably my own current writer’s block (which isn’t so much a block as it is like looking at a desk piled with papers and scribbles and trying to figure out how you’re going to sort it all) – but I’m quite fond of Trystan and Magnolia. I might do more of these, if they help jog my writerly self back into stride.
There was a vampire in my room.
I threw a gel pen at him. It was the pink one, and the ink was so light it was impossible to read anyway. “Go away.”
“Is that any way to treat a guest?”
“You aren’t a guest unless you’re invited,” I reminded him. “And I don’t remember sending out invitations.”
“You didn’t have to.” He bent down and picked up the pen carefully between his thumb and forefinger.
“It’s in the rules.”
“As a figment of your imagination, I say ‘hang the rules.’” He held out the pen. “Here’s your pen.”
I stared at it long and hard before taking it back and setting it down on the bed. “What do you want?”
He pulled out my computer chair and swiveled it around to face me before straddling it backwards. He folded his arms over the back and pushed his lower lip out in a pout. “I miss you, Mags.”
“Well, I have a little thing called school,” I said, holding up the wrinkled, ink-smeared pieces of paper that were slowly coming together to form my essay on J. R. R. Tolkien. “And as much as I’d like to say it wasn’t so, school has to take preference over you.”
He pressed his hand over his heart. “I’m hurt.”
“You can’t be,” I said. “You don’t have a heart. Louis ripped it out in chapter twelve.”
He pulled away the folds of his shirt and peered at his pale chest. “Oh,” he said. “It was so long ago, I must have forgotten. It’s all becoming a distant memory.”
“It hasn’t been that long. Three weeks.”
“Mmhmm.” He spun the chair around once and stopped, leveling his cold blue eyes at me. With a mock adoring smile he said, “And it feels like three hundred weeks.”
I glanced at him over my shoulder. “So what do you want me to do about it? Drop out?”
“You’re homeschooled,” he pointed out. “You can’t drop out.”
“Aha! Exactly.” I threw the pen back at him, but this time he reached out and caught it before it hit his face.
“Magnolia Jillian Everhart!” He clicked his tongue in disapproval.
I straightened and swung my legs over the side of the bed, giving him a narrow-eyed look of my own. “Mags to you,” I said. “Actually, you could call me anything of sufficient respect – ‘author,’ ‘your highness,’ ‘the be all and end all’…”
“…the Great Neglector,” he finished.
I groaned and bent double. My socks had holes in the toes, but they were fuzzy and purple and I was putting off throwing them away. “I’m sorry,” I mumbled.
“What’s that? I can’t hear you.”
I looked up and glared at him. He had one hand cupped around his ear, an look of expectance on his face. “I said, ‘I’m sorry’! I’ve been trying to write! There’s even an open document behind you.”
He turned the chair around and clicked the screensaver away. “Oh, look,” he said, eyeing the blinking cursor.
“I started, anyway,” I sighed.
He did a sixty-degree to look at me out of the corner of one eye. “You wrote ‘he’. That’s all.”
“There was more in my head.”
“Oh, well, then.” He rolled his eyes. “Of course that makes all the difference. Do you have any idea what we do while we’re waiting for you to snap out of your ‘writer’s block’” – he made air quotes on either side of his head – “and get back to us?”
I twisted my mouth. “You…hang out in limbo?”
He lowered his eyelids. “Ha,” he said flatly. “Ha, ha.”
“No,” he said, sliding the chair forward so his face was inches from mine, “we play cards. We drink way too much tea. We read, and re-read, and re-read what you’ve already written.”
“So…” I spread my hands, waiting for him to finish.
“I’m bored,” he said.
“Oh.” I gave him an apologetic smile that felt more like a wince. “Sorry.”
“Mmhmm.” He leaned back. “You said that already.”
“Well, I am! How do you think I feel? I create an epic six-hundred-year-old vampire, not to mention dozens of other characters, and I start a book, and then I’m too busy to finish it!”
“You poor, pitiful thing,” he said dryly. “I feel so sorry for you.”
I stood up and smacked the side of his head. His hair was damp, like he’d just taken a shower. “Get out of the chair.”
He obliged and leaned against the door instead. “What are you doing?”
I pulled the keyboard out and cracked my knuckles.
“Chapter twenty-three,” I said aloud, typing as I spoke. “Trystan was pacing his room, wondering what to do with his day, when a hollow knock sounded at his door.”
“This,” he said, lifting his eyebrows, “is not up to your usual standards.”
“Shush,” I told him. “He strode to the door and opened it. Immediately, Buffy the Vampire Slayer stepped through the opening, a wooden stake in each hand—”
He grabbed the back of the chair and hauled it away from the desk. “You’re hilarious, Mags! Enough, now.”
I spun around to face him and folded my arms across my chest. I didn’t bother to keep the smug smile off my face. “Then stop pestering me and let me finish my homework.”
He rubbed the back of his neck. I noticed he was wearing jeans and a black button-down shirt I had never seen before, not even in my mind’s eye. Maybe he had robbed a clothing store out of boredom. “All right.” He held up a finger. “But I’m coming back tomorrow.” He leaned down, closer. “And the next day. And the next” – good grief, I had written his eyes very blue – “until you get on that keyboard and actually write something worth my time.”
I opened my mouth but he gave me a too-wide, too-squinty smile. “Good, I’m glad we got that settled. I’ll see you tomorrow, Neglector.”
I dragged my hands over my face. “Is that going to be my new nickname now?”
“You earned it.” He winked, and was gone. The only sign he’d ever been here was the computer chair, pulled halfway across the room.
I licked my lips and risked a look at the computer.
The cursor pulsed like a heart monitor in, out, in, out, in…