I told the officer it was an accident, but he didn’t believe me. I suppose my case would have been stronger if I hadn’t left so much evidence behind. It wouldn’t take fingerprints or DNA or even Chris Meloni to figure this one out. I might as well confess. I did it. I killed my darling.
I had accomplices—Stephen King, Mark Twain, Faulkner, Nabokov, and Sir Arthur Quiller, and scores of other authors who get attribution for suggesting scenicide as a path to better writing. It should be an acceptable defense. My only true justification, however, was that the scene was asking for it.
I tried to ignore my darling’s flaws; the plotlines and incidental characters strewn about like dirty socks. It was the best wordplay I’d ever had and I couldn’t stay away. Even when I found out that my darling screwed with my timeline, I kept coming back for more.
I couldn’t bring myself to push delete, so I took the coward’s path. I avoided it. It would be my little secret. Eventually, I’d figure out the fix, or get tired and bored and kick it to the curb.
My darling, however, wouldn’t go quietly. It fought, and it fought dirty.
I was moving index cards around my corkboard when we came face to face. I pretended not to notice, but it was too late.
“Hey you,” it called out. It was not the singsong “Hey you” you greet your cat with when you get home. My darling was hacked.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. Anything you want to tell me?”
The question hung in the air. I fiddled with my pencil. “I’ve been busy.” There is nothing more insincere than a writer playing with a pencil while sitting in front of a computer.
“You haven’t taken me out in ages, and you only stop by for grins when it suits you.”
I rolled my eyes and tossed the pencil onto the desktop. “Don’t get all dramatic on me.” I’m a humorist, after all.
“You get rid of me, your book is toast.”
It was a well-constructed scene. It played well. It had great dialogue, more than one witty turn of phrase. If the chapter had a title, however, it would be “So What?”
My darling sneered. “I’m the best game you’ve got. You may never write anything this good again. I can hear you already, telling stories to your grandchildren about this great scene you wrote twenty years ago for this book you never finished.”
“Wow. Talk about hitting where it hurts. Can we move on to bargaining now?”
“I’m doing quite well with anger, thank you very much.”
So much for Kubler-Ross. I had no time for this. It would be so much easier to just cut the sucker and move on. Surely it can’t have been the only decent thing I’ve ever written. I moved for the mouse.
“Wait!” My darling adopted a more conciliatory tone. “There’s got to be another way. I’m sorry I’ve been so difficult, but you wrote me. It’s not exactly my fault.”
It had a point. “Maybe you’re right. Give me some time, and perhaps we’ll find our way back to one another.”
“Who knows, while finishing that piece of crap you’re writing now, you’ll learn enough to be worthy of me.”
Then again, writers have no time for remorse. “Go whine to Stephen King.”
Words by J. B. Everett
Photography “Magnifying Glass” by Auntie P © 2005 Creative Commons