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Character's Folly

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It's never a good idea to actually throw a working manuscript away. But then again, how was the author to know that the characters were going to cause chaos in her mind until she wrote them out of it! Who’s responsible for this drivel? Daniel couldn’t swallow it; wouldn’t swallow it. What are you talking about? Carrie defended her creative abilities. I don’t like the way that this is going. It’s dragging something fierce. Daniel protested against the storyline. What? I’m just trying to set up some kind of a background. Carrie wasn’t even able to convince herself. Deep inside she knew that Daniel’s complaint was valid. What do you think, Penelopy? Do you want her to go on like this? Penelopy didn’t care to be put in the middle; but she had to admit that Daniel was right. This jaunt in narrative was supposed to be about her, but she hadn’t even been paying attention… Well, it is kind of slow, and well – It hadn’t been her choice to speak her mind, but since she was she decided to go ahead and spit it out. Anyway, that’s not how it happened. Carrie was only willing to be prompted so far, “Just a minute,” she declared, right out loud. “This is my book!” Not without us. Daniel calmly countered. You can’t carry it with your weak-kneed narrative. You need us. Without our characters you have no novel. So, what am I supposed to do? Carrie restlessly conceded his well made point.

Fantasy / Adventure
Age Rating:

Chapter One

Daniel McClure had absolutely had it. How long was he expected to sit idle in that woman’s sub-conscious? He had never asked to be created, nor had he asked to be discarded! It suited him fine to exist within the pages of her little book, just fine. And to think – she had the story one-fourth of the way completed! Mitzi had been created, and a manipulator – but a love that Daniel would never forget just the same. Now he didn’t even have the memories! The nerve!

Jessica Tomkins wasn’t too happy either! She had been so young, and had so many hopes and dreams. Finally she had made her way to the Big Apple – New York City! It was all a girl could ever ask for! But where was that modeling contract? Where was the man of her dreams? Again, it was that woman who had planted such hope and aspirations into her heart, just to show her it didn’t really matter – at least not to her; the traitor!

Penelopy Gernswick was much too much of a lady to speak out against her creator. She never had cared for the nick-name that the woman had given her, but otherwise she held no ill-feelings. The life of a socialite and debutante wasn’t all it had been cracked out to be anyway. What was the difference if Lopey’s voice went unheard?

And then there was the buff blonde guy that wore blue jeans and a sports jacket to formal gatherings, and was accepted just the same. Too bad his character was so shallow that his name became obscure…

It was time for a resurrection! Time for a character revolt!

“Do you know of any other discarded characters?” Daniel asked with purpose. He needed to get some weight behind him; needed to find strength in numbers.

“I always wanted a little sister.” Penelopy spoke out. “We could call her, Suzie.”

“What are you talking about?” Objected Jessica; not wanting to join in the ranks of not only the discarded, but with the un-created.

“Why not?” Penelopy countered Jessica’s obvious rejection of the idea. “If she would have kept writing, then maybe she would have thought of her.”

“You’re a dreamer.” Daniel fussed; not at all upset; after all – wasn’t Penelopy and he headed for a future in Part Two of the once planned four section novel? He wasn’t supposed to know that, that woman had tried to plot around it, but he did. He could tell from the moment that Penelopy was created that she was made for him…

A Circle of Friends: So many story lines; so many ideas. And now they were gone! And not only that, but the title had been thought up by someone else and their novel now owned the name! What a dreadful shame! And all because she decided to throw the book away! Didn’t she know that you’re not supposed to actually throw anything as irreplaceable as a novel into the trash! Anything but the trash! Even a fireplace would have had more dignity for the unwanted words – but the trash! Why didn’t she just put the thing into a drawer somewhere? Or maybe in a box in the attic – but the trash! What a dreadful shame!

“Your thoughts are depressing me.” Jessica interrupted the thought line started by Daniel.

“You’re depressing me.” Daniel countered. “Maybe you depressed her too – maybe that’s why she –”

“Come on, now.” Penelopy interrupted the two. “Don’t. What good does it do? There’s no sense in going at each other like that. Maybe if we try to get along we can work through this.”

“Thought you didn’t care.” Jessica was still feeling up to an argument. She had been stifled too long, and was afraid that her youth had been taken away same as her identity. Who knew where she stood now!

“Well, I thought I didn’t either. But Suzie deserves a chance.”

“Suzie? You can’t just –” Jessica didn’t get to finish.

“You can’t stop me! If I want a little sister, by God, I’ll have one! I’m tired of not existing, and so is she!”

“How can she –” Jessica was cut off again.

“We demand a voice!” Penelopy had a little sister now, and wasn’t anyone going to convince her otherwise.

“Well, if you can have a little sister, then does that mean that I can have ‘the girl’?” Daniel was liking this new slant on things; make it up as you go along; it worked for him.

“The girl? You would. Hey guys, remember me? I don’t even rate a name.”

“No, but you sure do look good in a pair of blue jeans.” Jessica teased.

“Come on now.” The forgotten named character uncharacteristically sulked. His pride was crushed.

“Who do you want to be?” Penelopy kindly offered.

“It’s not up to you!” Jessica came against Penelopy, realizing that Penelopy was stepping out of her docile personality and was

becoming quite assertive! Jessica had always had the stronger voice, and wasn’t ready to be over-shadowed by someone who had always been the quiet one in the background. Wasn’t it Penelopy that had wanted the quiet farm life that had bored Jessica to tears? This wasn’t supposed to be happening this way!

“I can say what I want.” Penelopy very eloquently held her ground. “Who do you want to be?” She asked the forgotten named again.

“I’m trying to remember. The name suited me.”

“You might have to let it go, man.” Daniel tried to be of some help. “Who do you feel like – I mean inside.”

“Well, that’s the problem. You see, she had me acting like such a jerk; and that’s not really me. She had me all wrong!”

“How’d that happen?” Penelopy was curious, as she felt that the woman didn’t know her all that well either.

“Heck if I know.” No-Name just shook his head.

“Maybe she just didn’t think it through good enough.” Suzie suggested.

All the others were shocked silent. They couldn’t believe that all it took was a whim by Penelopy, and presto – Suzie!

“I like David.” Suzie blushed.

“David?” No-Name rolled the name around on his tongue. “I’m not sure. David, who?”

“How about David Worthington? It sounds sophisticated to me.” Penelopy tried to help.

“Too long,” David replied, already thinking of himself as such. “How about David Goliath? Makes me feel strong!” David Goliath stood a little straighter, and dared anyone to come against him.

Jessica stood back with one hand on her hip and tried to upset the group with her displeasure. No one noticed as all of the other characters welcomed David into their circle of friends, which was even at that moment being formed.

“You in, or out?” Daniel asked a stand-offish Jessica.

She had nowhere else to go. “I’m in, I guess. But are you sure we can do this?”

“Who’s to stop us?” Daniel was having more fun than he had had in years…

“We need a plot.” Daniel suggested. He was the leader of the group and all acknowledged him as such. It was, after all, his idea to step up and be counted.

“You going with what she was doing?” Jessica asked hopefully, and why not? In ‘A Circle of Friends’ Jessica had it made!

“Naw, that’s gone. Couldn’t none of us put the pages back together even if we tried. I know I lost my dad in that explosion with the gas leak, and I lost Mitzi too. Not too many good memories going on over here…”

“But I had –” Jessica had loved the plot –

“It’s gone.” Daniel flatly stated. “Anyone got any good plot ideas? I want some direction going on here.”

“Direction? Like what?” Jessica was still fighting for her author. It was her imagination that had created them in the first place. “It was that woman who created us. Seems she should –”

“Not me.” Suzie piped in.

“And she didn’t name me.” David Goliath added firmly. Personally, he didn’t care for the woman himself. She had never done anything wonderful for him.

Daniel had to relent; at least a little. After all, Jessica and he had grown up together, and had always been close friends – at least that’s how the story had gone. Being fiction himself, it was hard for him to sort out the facts.

“Well,” Daniel stated. “Maybe we could go a little with what she had going on. I mean, why not? That’s where we all came from.”

“Not me.” Suzie again asserted.

“It’s okay,” Penelopy assured. “You’re with me.”

“So, where do we start?” Daniel wasn’t sure how to do this.

“Well,” Jessica happily declared, “I was in New York City, looking into getting some work as a model, and Penelopy had just moved back to your town, Daniel. What was it called?”

“How do I know? She didn’t elaborate. We’ll have to make something up.”

“I don’t want to move to Kansas.” Penelopy protested. “It never was my idea. I just wanted to get away from the city. I grew up there – according to her – and it was time to move on – or so she said! This plot stinks!”

“I’ll say.” David had his say.

“Seems pointless to me,” Daniel added. “That is, well, unless we could change a few things.”

“Change things?” Jessica didn’t like the sound of it. “Like what?”

“Well, like maybe take it back and neither my dad nor Mitzi died…” Daniel was really pushing the envelope.

“They aren’t real!” Jessica exclaimed.

“And neither are we.” Daniel stated frankly; coldly. He was getting a bit fed up with Jessica’s obvious desire to control and with her self-centeredness.

“Whoa, now, let’s just wait a minute.” David warned. “This conversation is treading on annihilation of all of us. We need to be careful here.”

“David’s right.” Penelopy quietly added.

“Could we just start over? We all know ourselves better than anyone else does. Why don’t we all just work together?” Daniel was ready for some constructive suggestions.

“I want to be young, and pretty.” Jessica hesitantly admitted. “I’m afraid that after all this time I have gotten old, and there will be no ‘happy ending’ for me.”

“You want to be young? Then be young. That’s it. So be it.” Penelopy simply stated.

Jessica still resented Penelopy taking over, but she had to admit that things were definitely going smoother than they had been. She glanced at her hands and they weren’t aged or worn, but were young, and soft, and pretty. She raised her hand to her hair and it was long and silky. She took the blonde strands into her hand and was satisfied. She was the Jessica that she remembered.

“And you, David. What do you want? We know that you needed a name, but now what?”

“Well, I’m not sure. I was young, and I was rich, and a good looking bachelor in New York, but I wasn’t happy. I’d like to be a middle-aged business man with a wife and two kids. Preferably a girl and a boy, but I’d settle for whatever I got.”

The group was silent. David had always been the elusive bachelor; at least according to her…

“Should we introduce her right now – the wife, I mean.” Daniel cautiously asked.

“Sure, why not?” Penelopy ventured.

David’s heartbeat quickened. He wanted to do this right; after all, he intended this to be for life.

“Her name is Debbie. She has beautiful green eyes and dimples. She’s a little heavy, but I love her more than anything.”

“That’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to me.” Debbie radiated with pride. “Mitchell, Kelly, tell your Daddy, ‘Hi’.”

A slender, eight-year-old Mitchell walked slowly up to his father and offered a hand shake. A much less reserved five-year-old Kelly ran up to her daddy and launched herself into his arms.

“Daddy!” She exclaimed excitedly.

David beamed with pride. He was complete.

“Daniel,” Penelopy asked. “What is it that you want?”

“I already said –” Daniel stated, a little agitated; knowing his request was a strange one, considering all of the circumstances.

“I don’t know,” Penelopy cautioned. “I think we’d be crossing a line there that we really don’t want to cross. Surely there is a reason

for the saying, ‘rest in peace.’ I’m just not comfortable messing with the dearly departed. It just feels wrong. Couldn’t you re-consider?”

“But it was her that determined them dead.” Daniel argued.

“Yes, but it was also her that created them. I really need you to trust me on this one. It’s just not right.” Penelopy now pleaded.

Too late. There they stood in front of them – Daniel McClure’s deceased father and the dead wife, Mitzi. Their presence created an eerie feeling for all of the other characters; the ones with skin on them, that is. The celestial beings were almost translucent and could only speak into the thoughts in the air.

Bring us back, Daniel, thought his father.

Daniel, I miss you. Coaxed Mitzi’s spirit.

This is not your place. Penelopy firmly, but quietly imagined. You need to go.

But he called us – he wanted, the father figure protested.

Go! Penelopy strongly believed, and the two had no choice, but to leave.

“Thank you.” Daniel breathed in relief; totally appalled at the door he had opened. He wanted them back, but not like that.

“Some things are out of our power.” Penelopy wisely observed. “Want to try again?”

Daniel was shook up. “Not right now. That was pretty bad. How about you, Penelopy, what do you want?”

“I already have what I want.”

Suzie looked up at her big sister and smiled. Then she took a hold of Kelly’s hand. “Let’s go play.” The seven-year-old, (because that’s a perfect age for a little girl) Suzie and her new five-year-old friend skipped off; neither concerned about the details that would be necessary to make them exist.

“I don’t have anyone to hang out with.” Mitchell commented. “Does someone want a son or a nephew or something so that I’ll have something to do?” For only being eight, Mitchell was well aware of what was going on around him.

“I wouldn’t mind having another child,” Mitchell’s mom offered graciously. “What do you think, David?”

“Sure, why not?” He was after all, now a family man. “So Mitchell; do you want an older, or a younger brother?”

“Depends.” Mitchell replied cautiously.

“Oh?” His father questioned.

“Well, if he was older I would want him to include me. You know, not be thinking he was better than me. And if he was younger, well, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want him as young as Kelly, and I really don’t want him to be whiney.”

“How about a younger brother, but only a little younger? How about a twin?” Penelopy suggested.

“Could we?” Mitchell was obviously open to the idea of being a twin.

“Sure, why not?” His parents said in unison.

“Would you like to name him?” Mitchell’s father offered; knowing how valuable a name could be…

“Wow! Could I?” Mitchell was elated. The smiles all the way around said that he could.

“Stewart.” I like that name.

“Me too,” Stewart smiled. “Wow, this is great!”

“I’ll say,” Mitchell beamed. “Let’s get out of here. Want to play catch?”

“Sure,” Stewart threw his arm over Mitchell’s shoulder and the boys walked off, like they had been together forever.

“Don’t talk to strangers, and be in by dark.” Debbie called out after them. “I have to check on the girls.” And with that she headed off towards the park that the girls were surely playing at, not at all worried about her future as she knew that she was in good hands.

Jessica watched the turn of events and again became troubled. When things had been in limbo they had still been settled; predictable. But now everything had changed. She was no longer the strong personality that had everything under control. And where things had always gone so smoothly with Daniel there was a definite change in the air: She could even sense a little animosity between them, where there once was none. Nothing was the same, and Jessica’s character was sorely being tested.

“So, what’s next?” Jessica asked, instead of told –

“It’s imperative that we have a plot.” David was serious. He knew that things couldn’t go on as they were – or weren’t.

“But who’s to tell the story?” The most reasonable Penelopy asked.

“We could use ‘her’ thoughts and voice.” Daniel offered. “After all, she’s what we know.”

David wanted to protest, but didn’t have a better idea, and so he said nothing.

Penelopy didn’t have a need to be in control, and Jessica had relinquished hers; and so the four settled; and so, they let the story begin…

“Girls! Girls!” Suzie and Kelly looked up from the castles they were building in the sand. The girls had been making good use of the small beach that extended out from the man-made lake that was adjacent to the park.

Debbie’s heartbeat had quickened as she approached the girls. She had no idea that there was a lake right there at the park! The overly-protective mother rushed over to Kelly and scooped her up into her arms.

“Are you okay?” Debbie questioned a confused Kelly.

“Mom, I’m fine. What’s the matter?”

“You could have drowned!”

Suzie stepped up, anxious to set things right. “We didn’t go into the water, Mrs. Goliath. We know better than that.”


“I was so scared, David!”

“Shh – it’s okay. Nothing happened.”

“But it could have –”

“But it didn’t. It’s really not that big a deal. You need to relax.”

“But I can’t –”

“Why not? What has you so troubled?”

“When I was a child I almost drowned.” Debbie spoke with a shudder.

“Who told you that?” David wrapped his arm around his new wife and held her close.

“Well, no-one. I just remember –” Debbie was still trembling.

“That’s not so –” David spoke slowly; with great compassion and care. “You’re having a false memory. Just rest now. It’s okay.”

Debbie realized that David was right. There was no near drowning, no past…


David could see the necessity of getting the facts all sorted out with his life and the life of his children. He needed to have all of the details filled in, in detail. But how? How was he going to get through to the author who had never even pretended to care? David wasn’t alone with his concerns; he had a whole cast of characters wondering the exact same thing.


Carrie sat back in her easy chair and was overwhelmed with a sense of satisfaction, pride and completion. She had done it! She had actually completed her novel! The writing of ‘A House of Cards’ had been exhausting, and even as she sat there, Carrie was considering never picking up her pen again; having absolutely no clue that that was not an option.

I need to find another profession. She mused to herself. Something much less stressful. Carrie had already written and had published three other novels, and each time it just seemed like it got harder, not easier.

The memory of Daniel McClure floated at that moment into her mind. She pushed him away. No. I’m done with you. She fought back the remembrance.

Then she could have swore that Jessica Tomkins was calling out hauntingly, You can’t just leave us! You’ll never forget us!

Carrie got up and poured herself a glass of water. This just wasn’t fair. She hadn’t thought about them for years.

I want a voice; a chance. Came a voice that Carrie had never known.

Who are you? What do you want? Carrie felt like she was being mentally assaulted; although the voice seemed to be that of a child.

I want to be. Suzie pleaded to the imagination that had so long ago, but so carefully, created her sister, Penelopy.

Then the voice of Penelopy invaded Carrie’ consciousness. You have to go back. We can’t go away. We’ve tried, but we just can’t. You can’t just leave us here.

Who else is out there? Man, this isn’t even fair. I can’t remember.

That’s all well and good; but we can’t forget. A strong, masculine voice piped in.

That voice. Carrie recognized the voice, but couldn’t place it.

Who are you? She dug deep into the recesses of her mind; trying to remember who the voice belonged to.

Good question. David somewhat hurt shot back at the now bewildered Carrie.

I can’t remember the name, but I remember, you were from New York.

You can’t just leave us here. Penelopy pleaded.

We need out! Daniel affirmed.

You created us and then threw us away. Jessica accused.

You didn’t care. David firmly stated, and we can’t just go away. As much as we don’t want to, we need you.

You need to help us find our place. Suzie begged; wanting so desperately to belong.

All of the voices inside of her head were all speaking at one time and Carrie was certain that she was going mad.


Carrie again got out of the comfort of her easy chair and this time went and soaked her head in the shower for a long time. She needed to think; and with the water crashing all around her she couldn’t hear their voices; but it really didn’t help; she knew they were there…


Jessica brushed her long and flowing blonde hair. She didn’t know how she was going to do it, but she had to convince her parents to let her go to New York.

No, Carrie thought in frustration. That’s no way to start a book.

New York called her, it haunted her –

Yuk! Carrie scratched it out.

Start with me, Suzie beckoned.

How can I start with a voice I do not know? The child was so simple; so innocent. Carrie was beginning to feel like maybe she did know her; at least a little.

Okay, start with you. Doing what? There was nothing but silence. Creating wasn’t Suzie’s job.

The little girl picked up her older sister Penelopy’s gown and spun herself in a circle. She danced with glee, knowing that her day would come.

That’s rough, Carrie reasoned, but workable.

The petite little seven-year-old stood on a chair and the beautiful and yet oversized evening gown hung down to the floor.

She fluffed up her hair with her hands and challenged the mirror, “Look at me! I’m beautiful!”

The reflection of her older sister, Penelopy came up from behind. “You are beautiful, kitten. Do you like the dress?”

“Oh, I do! It’s the most! The absolute most!”

“Tell you what,” Penelopy took her little sister in her arms and swung her to the floor. “You can have it.”

“For reals?”

“For reals. Now go along, before Mama catches you in it”.

The happy little girl grabbed up as much of the dress that she could manage and hurried up the stairs, only tripping a little bit on her way.

Penelopy looked in the mirror. She couldn’t believe it. Her coming out party had been a roaring success, and she was now a full-fledged Debutante. What exactly that meant, she wasn’t sure, but by all of the attention it had to be good, didn’t it?

Then why did she feel so empty? She wanted her life to count for more than her social standing. She wanted more. She wanted her life to have substance and meaning. She wanted to make an impression in the world; she wanted to make a difference.

Penelopy’s thoughts were interrupted by the door bell. That would be Jessica, Penelopy was sure. She was also wrong.

“Hey, there.” Chuck smiled coyly.

No, that’s awful. I hate that name. What was his name? I just can’t remember. It’s been too long.

I like David. The voice of Suzie drifted through the air.

David Goliath, came another voice. Sounds strong.

Okay, let me try this again. Carrie felt like she was some how receiving some kind of unexplainable help, but she received it gratefully; knowing full well that she needed it.

“Hey, you. Looking good! That was some party!” David Goliath let himself into the house with not much persuasion on Penelopy’s part. Penelopy had nothing against David; he just wasn’t her type. And his name! David swore that it wasn’t a stage name; but Penelopy wasn’t convinced.

“Want to grab a hamburger over at Fritz’s?” David kept things light and easy, and Penelopy settled down to enjoy her friend’s company. She knew that there would be no romance between them, but romance wasn’t everything; was it?

Is Penelopy thinking or what? Carrie had to question how the story was going. This is fine, came a knowing that Carrie chose not to argue against.

The two stepped out of the Penthouse Penelopy shared with her mother, father, and little sister into –

No, that’s wrong.

The two stepped out of the Penthouse that Penelopy shared with her parents and little sister, into the blistering New York City heat.

Weren’t most coming out parties in the fall? Carrie wasn’t sure, but she wanted to play it safe…

The two stepped out of the Penthouse that Penelopy shared with her parents and little sister into the hustle and bustle of the ever noisy, ever exciting, New York City.

I like that. Carrie considered. I need to go to bed.


This is going to take forever. Jessica complained; not at all happy that the author had decided against starting the book with her after all…


This isn’t working. David protested.

“Man, oh, man.” Carrie complained out loud to herself. “What is this?” She refused to contemplate this character’s folly, and rolled over to get some sleep.

You can’t use me in that storyline. I’m married.

You are not. Carrie was certain.

Am too. Ask anyone.

It’s true. Debbie dared invade Carrie’ dream.

How do you know? Who are you? Carrie was getting weary in the restless sleep she was experiencing.

I’m his wife.

Carrie sat straight up in her bed, with eyes wide open. I can’t be doing this. She didn’t bother to voice the thought; she didn’t need to; those voices – they were coming from within her anyway.

You have no choice, Daniel challenged.

Have I lost my mind? Carrie dared give thought to her fear.

No, just neglected it. Penelopy offered. You were doing all right. Just go with it. You started out okay; but David is right. You can’t use him in that storyline.

But I’m tired. I need to get some rest. What do I have to do for you to go away? Carrie nearly pleaded.

You don’t get it. The only way to get us out is to write us out. Jessica piped in; hating to be so far in the background.

Now? Carrie blurted out. She couldn’t believe what she was thinking, or hearing, or whatever it was!

Not right now. Penelopy patiently explained. But you do have to at least know who your characters are. Then maybe we can all get some sleep.

Carrie relented and got up out of bed and got a pen and a note pad.

Okay, so who are you?

Dead silence.

What is this? You talk when you want to talk, and when I want you to be quiet you won’t quit.

You don’t get it. We don’t want to invade your mind; we just want out! David was extremely agitated.

But I need your help. Carrie complained.

We didn’t just create ourselves. Penelopy stated calmly, then realized that wasn’t entirely true. Okay, so we did use a little creative license here, but not really that much… Let’s go ahead and help her guys

Suzie had a compassionate heart, and was still extremely grateful to even be there. I’m Suzie. Penelopy wanted me.

That’s really sweet. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Carrie was intrigued.

I’m completely a blank page. Suzie stated with pure innocence. I really liked the beginning though. Can we keep it?

Sure. Carrie liked Suzie, and was glad that she was there.

Are there any other children? Carrie dared. There hadn’t been before, except, didn’t Mitzi have a baby? Didn’t she die at childbirth?

Daniel was forced to address that issue. There was a child. But we had never bonded. He was born at the very end of the first quarter of your book. Or was it a girl? This really bothers me. I had tried so hard to put the thought of the child behind me. Mitzi left me with an infant; I had almost forgotten…

Maybe I could just bring Mitzi back –

Carrie didn’t even get the sentence out of her mind before she was overwhelmed by a resounding, No! Echoing throughout the recesses of her brain.

That is not an option. Daniel was very stoic and determined in his statement.

Carrie chose not to argue amongst herself. She didn’t know the why of it; but she was convinced that it had been a bad idea…

Does anyone remember the baby? Carrie pleaded in a quiet desperation; wishing that she had gone ahead and written the book in the first place! It would have been so much less complex; of that she was quite certain!

It had been a girl, Jessica offered, quite certainly. I don’t think that she was ever developed enough to have a name. It’s your baby, Daniel; you should give her a name, I think.

Carrie didn’t interfere with the dialog. At least things were beginning to move along.

Well, Daniel spoke slowly. I like the name, Brittany.

Brittany pursed her little lips and Daniel knew he was in love. He held her close to his heart, and was glad that she had not been forgotten.

I’m glad we got that settled. Carrie was beginning to get more comfortable with her insane imaginings. Any more children?

I have a son and a daughter. David spoke up.

And what am I, chopped liver? A somewhat hurt Stewart quipped in.

You forgot your own son? Carrie felt just a little vindicated. At least she wasn’t the only one of her capable of such a major character slight!

I’m sorry. David looked at Stewart and the hurt in his eyes showed a father’s love; a true sincerity that begged forgiveness; which was readily accepted by Stewart.

It’s okay, Dad. I know I came along later.

Not much. Mitchell defended. You came only ten minutes after me!

Ten minutes that seemed like forever. Debbie considered, remembering the difficulty of Stewart’s delivery.

Twins! Carrie liked the idea. How old are you?

We’re eight, the boys exclaimed together. Then Mitchell shared, I’m Mitchell, and my brother’s name is Stewart. I got to name him! Mitchell proudly boasted.

That’s really nice. Carrie was intrigued by the whole conversation.

I’m Kelly. I’m five. Kelly made her entrance into Carrie’s consciousness quite innocently, and perfectly naturally.

You’re too cute! Carrie liked Kelly immediately. In fact, she adored all of the children.

But it wasn’t you who started the story, was it?

No, stated a slightly older, slightly more mature, Suzie. That was me.

And what’s your name, sweetie?

I’m Suzie. I like you.

Oh, that’s right. I forgot. We already met. I’m sorry. This is all so overwhelming! I like you too, sweetie; honest. How she wondered,

had she ever been able to discard her first novel so recklessly? Never even considering that the characters that she was becoming so fond of hadn’t even been a part of it…

Okay, so I’ve got David. And David isn’t a bachelor from New York City; but a family man; with three beautiful children.

And a wife. Debbie felt slighted.

And a wife, of course. Carrie stood corrected.

Yes, Debbie from Jersey. David stated bluntly. David Goliath, with his wife Debbie, from Jersey.

David Goliath! No way! That’s awful! Carrie couldn’t help herself.

David was genuinely hurt. Makes me feel strong, he weakly protested.

That’s it! Carrie exclaimed. David and Debbie Strong!

David wasn’t certain. It did sound better though…

I like it. Debbie smiled and cuddled close to her creator. David wrapped his arm around her soft shoulder and was glad that she was there. Her creamy white skin was a stark back-drop for her deep, rich, dark hair. Yes, David was quite content.

Strong will be fine. David affirmed.

Okay, so, now we have the Strong family. Let me see if I can get this right. David; Debbie; Mitchell; Stewart; and Kelly. There! I did it!

Don’t get so happy so soon. I don’t think you’re all that together. Do you even know who I am? Jessica was really unsettled.

Of course I know who you are, Jessica! I created you! How could I ever forget you?

Well, you act like you’ve forgotten me. And please, enough with the great compassionate show of such great care and concern. Give me a break! You threw us away, for Heaven’s sake!

Not you, never! It wasn’t about you. It was me. It was about me.

Why am I not surprised? The animosity in Jessica’s voice was harsh and hurtful.

You don’t understand. Carrie struggled.

You’re right. I don’t. Why don’t you explain it to me? Jessica wanted answers; not caring at this point if she was to be re-created young or not. How could you?

The other characters moved in close; not wanting to miss the author’s excuses for her reprehensible act of blatant betrayal.

He told me to do it. Carrie was trying to remember; trying to explain. I had surrendered my life to the Lord, and he said that I had to do it.

He, who? Jessica was livid. Did God speak to you and tell you that you were too good for us? Jessica didn’t know God. He had never been mentioned. She knew of God; all creation declares His glory; of that even her infidel mind knew that. But for Him to be a factor at all; that was just too big a bite of bologna for her to swallow.

No, not God. Smitty. My friend Smitty told me to lose the book.

And that was it. Someone tells you to throw us away, and you did it? Just like that? Everyone listened as Jessica quite adequately spoke what was on all of their minds.

Well, it wasn’t a simple thing. And it wasn’t easy. I didn’t want to do it.

Then why did you? Jessica was giving her author no slack, whatsoever.

I thought I had to. Tears came into Carrie’ eyes, but she continued. He told me that you were a part of my past; and that I had to leave you behind.

But why? Why would you have to? A softer, more gentle Penelopy took over the dialog.

Carrie immediately recognized the change in the voice; and the attitude. Penelopy – Penelopy Gernswich?

Sure, Penelopy politely acknowledged herself. That’s me.

You used to have such a quiet character. You never had any strong personality traits at all. What happened? I sense a strength and vitality you never had –

Oh, it was there. Penelopy tried to be diplomatic. You just didn’t see it. You wrote me dull, and so I was.

I’m sorry. Carrie was absolutely amazed. Even though she had just completed, ‘The House of Cards’, she knew that she was in for a re-write. She had never known how much a character could write itself; if only she gave a place for the voice…

You lost your trail of thought. Penelopy gently prodded.

That I did. What I was trying to say is that shortly after I completed one-forth of ‘A Circle of Friends’ my life got all messed up, and I quit writing. I quit doing most all of anything I had been doing. I was depressed. I got so sick in my mind that at one point all that I wanted to do was die.

Wow, I didn’t know. Penelopy wrapped herself around Carrie’s thoughts and a feeling of compassion and acceptance helped her to go on with her story.

I ended up in a deep, dark fog. Somehow Jesus came and He invaded my darkness; and gave me a new beginning. Jesus came and He gave me hope.

You preaching? Jessica interrupted. She wasn’t being taken in by her author’s sad story. The fact that the whole world, that had been her existence, and future, had been discarded was what really mattered, wasn’t it?

Leave her alone. Daniel interjected. Carrie had a right to state her case. Not only that, but he needed to know why.

Thank you. Carrie was pleased that most of her mind was on her side…

Anyway, once I could actually think straight again I picked you guys back up and I was ready to start on the second leg of your journey. That’s where Smitty came in. He was just trying to help.

Some help. Jessica got in.

Carrie was able to put Jessica out of her mind, and continued. Smitty said that ‘A Circle of Friends’ was a creation from my past; a creation that wasn’t pleasing to God; and since I had given my life to the Lord, and the Lord gave me a new beginning, that I had to get rid of you.

I would have just put you down for a while, you know, until I could sort out my thoughts and plots, but Smitty, well, he was insistent! It was like a mission for him to make me get rid of you!

But didn’t you know it was wrong? Came the wisdom of a child; a sweet little perplexed, Suzie.

Deep down, I knew. Carrie had to admit. But I was persuaded. I wanted so badly to do the right thing that I made a very terrible choice.

Yeah, and we’re all paying for it. Jessica’s rudeness couldn’t be ignored anymore.

Jessica. What’s wrong? Why do you hate me? Carrie couldn’t stand the thought of being despised by a character that she had held so dear, and carried so deeply inside of her, for so long.

Don’t soft-soap me, Carrie. You aren’t fooling me one bit. You don’t care how any of us feel. You threw us away, remember?

How can I ever forget? But don’t you see? I never wanted to.

Come on, Jessica. Lighten up. Daniel wanted things to mellow out. He didn’t want Carrie subjected to the strife that Jessica was creating.

I shouldn’t have done it. I’m so sorry I did. I’m glad that you wouldn’t leave me alone.

Are you? Jessica had her say, and then was silent. There was no place for an argument amongst herself.

I’ll make it right for you. I promise.

There was a rumbling of excited anticipation running around in Carrie’ mind as she was finally at peace enough with herself to lay her head to rest. And now for her counter parts…

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