Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What a character!

Today, I want to talk about characters, more specifically, my characters.  The characters I discover become living, breathing, and feeling creatures of my imagination.  They jump forward at inopportune times (meetings, in the car, watching tv, etc) begging to have their voice heard, which can be quite annoying.  Some characters are content with just letting me know they are present, and others weave into my imagination and force me to create adventures and journeys for them.  I feel what my characters feel, see what they see, and experience life through their eyes.  Do I sound crazy yet? 

Characters are the main reason that I write.  I write because I have an overactive imagination that is curious about the human experience and what drives people to choose the actions they do.  This endless curiosity allows me to live scenarios as someone else and then analyze why the decision was made or the path taken.  Okay, now I definitely sound crazy. 
The problem though is that I have some characters that just won’t shut up.  I have been living with their stories for years and they randomly and spontaneously remind me of their existence.  They beg me to continue their story and give them life again.  They won’t be put to rest.  I thought it would be interesting to use this blog to see what they had left to say, both with the goal of entertaining you dear reader, and giving me some peace and quiet to develop new characters.  As a regular feature to this blog I will be introducing (and reintroducing) characters and continuing their stories as short stories or essays that may someday lead to a complete work.  I hope you find one you enjoy.


Today I am going to reintroduce you to Skyler and Kane.  You may remember them from the short story, “1974 Corona”.  As I mentioned before, this short story has stuck with me.  The characters have more to say.  I feel like Skyler in particular has a bigger story to tell.  She has a story of her own struggles with addiction, finding love, and finding herself.  When I ended “1974 Corona” I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I would dream about her adventures and made more than a few attempts to create a full length novel around her character.  While her novel remains one of my many unfinished attempts, I did decide to give her another chapter. 

Skyler needs to help me answer one question, “What if walking away led you to find your true self?”

Now that I’ve pulled her from her corner of my imagination where she has sullenly been waiting, I hope she has more to say.

1974 Corona continued….
Sarah Johnson

I gasped as the picture became clear to me.  He couldn’t look me in the eye anymore.  When had that happened?  When had I become the accessory rather than the outfit?  It was over.  I could see that now.  The boy I loved was gone, no glimmer or hint of his smile, no remnant of his laughter remained.  Beaten down by an ever growing addict, a shell of the boy remained.

Familiar images flashed by the car window, but I didn’t see any.  All I saw in front of me was his face.  His face in a thousand memories.  His face as he loved me, as he comforted, as he lied to me.  I knew that was the truth now.  He had lied to me when he told me he loved me more than anyone or anything in the world.  It wasn’t true.  He loved the high more than he loved me.  The addict had killed the boy I loved.

New images started crossing my vision.  Images my heart had blocked from my head.  I had known he was lying of course.  Had seen the signs and chosen to turn the other way.  Finally released from the clutches of my heart, countless images of the last few months flooded my head.  Fear of losing him, of who I couldn’t be without him, had kept them locked away.  He was just as strong as the addict had been, and just as bad. 

“I’m done.”  My heart protested as I said the words out loud.

“What?”  The annoyance in his question hardened my just forming resolve.

I couldn’t look at him as he pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex.  My head held back the reaching arms of my heart and kept it firmly restrained.  A slow-building strength began to burn deep within, severing the fibers that bound me to him.

“I said, I’m done.  I can’t do this anymore.”

“What do you mean, “you’re done”?  Done with what?”  He was really annoyed now. 

                “I can’t do this anymore.  I can’t be with you and watch you throw your life away.  I can’t watch you destroy us.”

                “Skyler, I love you.”

                My heart slammed against my ribs at those words, struggling to be let free.  “No, you don’t.  Not anymore.”

                Anger was in his voice now.  “What do you mean, ‘no, you don’t’?  Of course I do.”  I shook my head.  “This is because of that Zach guy isn’t it?  You want to be free to do your kumbaya shit and dance through the daisies or whatever it is you two do.  Fine, run away to him Skyler, I don’t need you.  I don’t want you.”

                The addict in him did what Kane the boy could never do.  The voice of the addict quieted any protest from my heart.  His words had pierced it through.  Numbness soon replaced the hole where my heart had been, darkness filled the cavity.  I reached for the door knob that would take me away from him, away from the bleeding remains of our love.

                He grabbed my hand as I stepped onto the pavement.  “Wait.  Sky.  Babe, I didn’t mean it.”  Desperation filled his words now.  I pulled my hand free and shut the door.  Shut the door on my soul.  Closed the hole with iron plates.

                I heard him swear and get out of the car to follow me, but I didn’t stop.  There was nothing left for me there, nothing left of the boy I loved and that knowledge kept me moving forward.  He grabbed my hand and spun me back to face him.  He wrapped his arms around me and buried his face in my hair.  “Sky, honey, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean it.  I didn’t mean it baby, don’t go.”  I couldn’t stop the tears.

                “I have to.  It’s over.”

                He froze as my words finally reached him.

                Pulling away he said, “Skyler.  Look at me.”

                I couldn’t, but somehow I did.  Somehow I looked into those blue eyes and lied.  I lied to save us both.  “I don’t love you anymore Kane.  I need to do what’s right for me.  Let me go.  If you ever loved me, let me go.”

                His lips crushed mine and in a last desperate plea, my heart exploded in my chest.  Cupping my face in his hands through our tears, I finally saw the boy I had loved.  “I love you Skyler Rose.  You are my life.  Please don’t do this.”  But it was too much, too late.

                “Goodbye Kane.”  And then I did the hardest thing I had ever done.  I walked away. 

                I didn’t look back.  Any remaining tethers and nerve endings that belonged to Kane reached out to him as I led them away.  I was broken inside.  I let the numbness and darkness spread as I put my key in the lock.  I had done it and would trade almost anything to have it back.  Almost anything.  Walking past the window I refused a glance to the parking lot to see if he was still there.

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