There was a princess, a chicken, and a little girl with a black eye.
The princess probably wasn't even a real princess. She looked like she was about fifteen or sixteen years old, and she was wearing a very, very out-of-date gown. Henry suspected it was a Halloween costume.
Henry took a step back. "What the heck is going on?" he asked. "Who are you people? And, er, chicken?"
All three opened their mouths simultaneously. "I am the Creator," they all answered, in unison, as if their voice was one voice.
Henry had no idea what they meant. "All three of you?" he asked.
But as soon as he said it, they were gone, as if they had never existed. Instead, there was a young-ish woman with a curly mass of dark auburn hair that framed her angular face like a cloud. She was dressed in a grubby tank top and a pair of calico print boxer shorts.
She also looked slightly confused. "Well, no," she said. "It's really just me."
But if she looked confused, Henry looked downright perplexed. "What?" he asked. "But there were just thr--"
That was when he noticed that the newcomer was sitting cross-legged on top of a giant turtle. Or was it a tortoise? Tortoise, probably. He couldn't remember which ones were the land kind and which were the sea kind. And frankly, that's not really what he was trying to remember at the moment.
He was rather shocked silent.
"Nope," said the girl, from her perch on her giant tortoise. "It was always just me."
Henry tried to wrack his brain. Not only was he quite certain that this woman had not been sitting on a tortoise a moment ago, but he was even more certain that she hadn't even beenthere a moment ago. And if he was perfectly honest with himself, he didn't know which certainly was stranger.
"So..." he tried tentatively. "Are you a...a god, or something?"
The woman was now as big as his head, and had giant, gossamer wings. She was carrying a wand. "No," she said, and she was suddenly dressed as a clown. "I'm just a girl."
She held up a pen. She shimmered for a moment, as if she were not quite existing in this reality, and Henry could have sworn he saw an ink line draw around her, a box enclosing her figure.
"With a pen," she said.
She was barefoot.
"Although technially," she said, in a dreamy, far-off voice,"I inked you with a tiny brush." She held up a paintbrush laden with ink, which was, ironically, extremely large.
Henry fumbled for the right words. "So, uh, are you, uh...saying you drew me?"
"YEP!" she exclaimed happily, brushing off the lapel of her expensive, custom-tailored tuxedo with the fabulous silk vest.
"And..." Henry tried..."you control everything that happens to me?"
The tuxedo was gone. She was dressed in a scandalously short red vinyl dress, and had somehow sprouted sparkly little horns and a tail.
And she was carrying a pitchfork.
"YEP!" she exclaimed again. She still seemed happy about it, much to Henry's lack of delight.
"So I could've been a pirate?" Henry asked. As he spoke the words, the scene transformed itself, and he was standing on a wooden deck, the waves gently rocking them both. He was slightly less pleased by the extremely girly shirt he was now wearing.
His companion, who was now dressed as a respectable facsimile of a wench, a bandanna tying back her unruly curls, was starting to look confused by his questions. "Well, yes," she answered, but she was nowhere near as enthusiastic as she had been a moment ago.
"Or a spaceman?" asked Henry, from inside his regulation space suit. His voice echoed in the thin atmosphere of this strange and distant planet.
"Yeah..." said the curly-haired alien life form that accompanied him, even as it furrowed its eye-stalks. That is, if eye-stalks could furrow, which they technically can't.
Henry saw how this was going. He decide to just shoot for the moon. Metaphorically, since as long as he was a spaceman, he was literally past the moon.
"Or at least given me a hot girlfriend?" he tried.
His extremely hot girlfriend, who was wearing nothing but a bikini, rolled her eyes.
"Henry," said Henry's extremely hot girlfriend, "you're thinking about this all wr--"
But then Henry made the cardinal mistake, one which he would have know to avoid if he had been in a relationship with his extremely hot girlfriend for more than thirty seconds, the mistake to out-mistake all mistakes.
He interrupted his extremely hot girlfriend. "And you decided to make me DISAPPEAR?!" he demanded. "Why are you making my life SUCK so much? You don't even draw that well."
It was true. Henry had a very awkward-looking face and a big, pointy nose that kept changing shake slightly from panel to panel.
"Look," I told him. "You don't even exist. So you can't really disappear." Maybe I was being a little harsh, but it was true, and I was a little irritated that he had imagined me into a skimpy bikini and given me straight blonde hair, however brief the image might have lasted. "I make you folks up to force myself to acknowledge my own insecurities."
Hey, he was a fictional character, right? Who was he going to tell?
"You're just a reflection of my anxiety that my life is going unnoticed," I explained. "That nothing I do really matters."
"Great," said Henry.
I wanted to tell him about how I had initially envisioned a fictional ending for his story, which involved a dice game with Death, but then I had decided that writing a piece about myself coming face to face with the way my own feelings influence my art and writing was a lot less cliched. But I felt like he might just be insulted. After all, he didn't seem impressed with how well I'd drawn Mr. Lopez. I thought Mr. Lopez was a pretty sweet character design.
Instead, I decided to explain my other characters to him. "The princess," I explained, "is a manifestation of my desire to prove to the voice of doubt in my head that I can be strong and independent. The little girl personifies my frustration when I have to choose my battles and act with grace."
"Bok!" said the chicken. Chickens do always have impressive timing.
"What about the chicken?" Henry asked, looking quite irritated that the chicken had re-manifested itself smack in his hands. But chickens do enjoy being hugged, just as much as people do. At least, my imaginary chickens of fantasy and wonder enjoy being hugged.
But, you see, the chickens are special. I don't share the chickens with anyone. Or maybe I don't really have a good explanation for what the chickens mean from a literary criticism perspective, and it's always more fun to be cryptic than it is to explain that sometimes you just enjoy throwing in a chicken for no good reason.
I decided to go with being cryptic for now. "I think I'll keep that to myself," I said.
This entry was written for therealljidol, Week 26, Pt. 2: Face To Face