It seems befitting, on Writers’ Wednesday, to make space for one of our beloved characters, one of the “little ones”, to express herself. Today, we welcome Melissa.
I am grateful to the author for making me alive, again. Maybe I sense that, for him, it is a way to give justice to his own memories, or maybe, I am just that: a character out of his magic box ? Who knows? I don’t mind either way, since he gives me a chance to get closer to the one I love, will always love.
If you read his stories – he writes about us quite often, turning our lives into a sad novel – you will know that my childhood friend, sweetheart, protégé, my beloved Julian, had some difficulties in believing I was me, I mean the Melissa he knew, had known long ago. Of course none of us remembers exactly when that was, and I have to say, I don’t think the writer is too sure about it either. Nonetheless, this is a neat little trick: having the main character, the hero, doubting the reality of the one he loves, or loved, so much.
So, I started my new life as a ghost, or a shadow. I even frightened the dear sister, young Jane. I read – yes, I can read – that Jane complained a bit about her treatment under our author’s pen. I don’t understand why; she has a nice, undemanding role, and he, the author, portrays her always in the most admiring terms. But then, Jane is a bit of a “prima-donna”, someone used to have her own ways. Once strutted the catwalk etc…
For me, being cast in this work is an honour. Otherwise who would bother to get me out of the deepest obscurity, of the endless night I would otherwise be confined to? For this is the simple truth: authors get us, shadows, out in the open, they let us breath, they make us almost real, in the sense that you, readers, are real. For Melissa to exist, other than perhaps as a flutter in Julian’s mind, she must be there, in front of you, reader, not naked (necessarily), but warm enough to be credible, acceptable, adopted by you.
Someone said once that writers start a book, but readers finish it. I think it applies even more to characters like me: the author sets out the main traits, the prototype, of the person who may later come to existence, but readers are the ones to turn that shape, that promise, into a “real” being. I exist, for you are reading about me, and only if. So, the author’s pen only opens possibilities, and the author’s work is never completed, it always has to wait for the reader to become more than lines on the screen, or the page. And for each reader, Melissa exists with subtle differences from another.
Thinking about this could make one dizzy: there isn’t a single Melissa, but as many as there are readers who are patient, or deluded, enough to read about her. In one recent chapter of the book, my dear Julian is walking in a park. Suddenly he sees me, walking toward him, but apparently not seeing him. He looks at me, and despairs for not being visible to me. Yet I smile looking at him. Then I disappear, and Julian finds himself elsewhere. For him I have become that elusive ghost, again, that I was at the beginning. Is Julian ill, mentally disturbed, or merely confused at the reality of Melissa? Or, is the Melissa he sees, yet another creation of imagination, perhaps incompatible with yours?
- “Yes, I know you know, Melissa, dear Melissa, the one who claims… (sisyphus47.tumblr.com)
- Jane, on Respect #writing (ofglassandpaper.com)