It’s 3AM when I finish my character profile for Mr. Right. I’m terribly tired, can barely keep my eyes open. I’m three weeks behind, and my publisher’s already sent several emails about the status of the manuscript. I’m afraid to tell them I’ve barely got an outline formed.
The motivation just isn’t there. Once you’ve done one romance novel, you’ve written them all. Not much room for diversity in the plot, so the focus must be shifted to the characters.
Instead of tall, dark, and handsome, I write my Mr. Right as brown and exotic. He speaks with an accent whose origin you can’t quite identify. He has eyes the shape of Medjool dates and loosely curled hair the falls over his face. He’s not tall, but just tall enough to press his chin against his beloved’s forehead as he holds her and sways to the music he hums. And to kiss him, she must forage through the foliage of his beard to find his lips.
That is where I will pick up, after my nap. Just a quick one, three or four hours. I’ll start again with the sun—after, I hope, a story comes to me in a dream.
Instead arrives a mystery, because when the sun breaks through the blinds of my window and I roll over for an extra hour’s snooze, lying next to me in my bed is Mr. Right, staring at me with those intense deep brown eyes.
“No more procrastinating, dear.” His beard lifts to indicate a smile, though I can’t see his lips.
I try to scream, but he quickly covers my mouth. “Please, meri jaan. Not again.”
I slap his hand away. “You have five seconds to get out of my house, or I’m calling the cops.”
“Do you really not recognize me?”
“No!” Because that would mean admitting he’s a figment of my imagination. A manifestation of my broken mind, brought on by the unyielding symptoms of imposter syndrome, a diet of coffee and sugar, and a lack of sleep.
“You do this every time. You write me. And then you erase me. For once let me be permanent in your life.”
“You’re crazy!” I say. I dial 9-1-1 and lock myself in the bathroom.
When the police arrive, I point to my intruder. “I don’t know how he broke in. He won’t leave. Arrest him!”
They exchange looks at the door. Then one side-steps me and approaches him. “Everything alright here?”
“You’re asking the criminal!”
“I’m sorry, officers. She’s having another one of her episodes.”
Episodes! I could haul off and slap him if it didn’t mean I’d be put in handcuffs in my own house. First he breaks in. Then he makes me think I’m losing my mind. Now he’s stealing my agency! Oh, if he was afraid I would delete him before, just wait!
Even saying that sounds preposterous.
He comes up behind me, puts his arms around my shoulders, plants his chin on the crown of my head, and rocks me back and forth.
“Easy.” He nods to the officers for them to leave.
“Y’all try to have a nice day.”
“Wait! You’re not going to arrest him!”
“Shhh,” he coos. “Dekho. Look at the fireplace. Let it calm you.”
He turns my body, but instead my eyes are drawn to the mantel and the giant framed portrait that is atop it. The two of us, adorned in Eastern wedding attire—I’m in a red veil, gold bangles on my wrists, henna on my hands and feet. He holds me as he does his beloved in my profile.
“Mmhmm. Now, do you really want to throw this away, hai na?”
I think I found my story.
© 2021 Nortina Simmons
Being an author is so cool! Look at what we bring to life! This story was brought to you by Twilight Zone episode “A World of His Own.”
The new year is quickly approaching! Only six more hours!