I had been tossing and turning for hours. Sleep, illusive sleep! How I needed to fall into its sweet embrace! Finally, I felt my brain quieting, my eyes growing heavy. Then, I heard it, softly at first, then louder and louder.
I sat bolt upright, feeling as if I were in an Edgar Allen Poe poem. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “ ’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more.”
The problem was, the tapping and the rapping was becoming more and more insistent. I looked over at my slumbering husband, wondering how he managed to sleep through all that racket.
More knocking…this time, it sounded like someone was going to break down the door, so I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. (Great, now I was in another poem.)
Upon opening the bedroom door, I was greeted by a familiar figure – a graceful elf with jet black hair, cornflower-blue eyes, delicately pointed ears, and a sour expression on her face. “He’s done it again,” she announced without preamble.
I didn’t need to ask who he was. Instead, I hastily grabbed my robe and struggled into it as I followed my visitor to the conference room.
“Again?” I asked with a sigh, as we entered the room. In response, a haughty, brown-eyed, flaxen haired, pointy-eared figure sneered at us in greeting, and snapped at me, “Your presence is not required.”
“Oh, really?” I motioned to the speaker to get out of my chair. Instead, he leaned back and put his feet up on the table.
“Really,” he replied. “These meetings are actually much more productive without you.”
I laughed. “And just how can that be? I’m the writer, remember?”
He snorted. “I believe we established, some time ago, you are not The Writer, merely the stenographer.”
I glared at him. I felt my cheeks burning, but I could not deny his claim. Finally, I capitulated. “Okay, so I’m just the gal that transcribes notes. But if I don’t attend the meetings, no notes are taken, and the story never gets written.”
A sly grin spread across his face, as he nodded to the far end of the table.
“Cab?” I looked startled. There sat the half-dwarf hero of the first two books in the series I was currently writing…er, transcribing. He had a sheaf of parchment, a quill pen, and a guilty look.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “Since you completed transcribing my great adventures, I have been feeling quite useless. This seemed like a good opportunity to contribute to book three, since you have written me out of it.”
Did my hero sound a bit resentful?
Someone behind me coughed. I whirled around to see an ethereal figure gliding into the room. “Sorry, has the meeting resumed? I thought we were still on break.”
“Who are you?” I demanded.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the figure said, extending his hand. “I am The King.”
“You’re Elvis?” I deadpanned, as I shook his hand.
He gave me what I assumed was a blank look, although I really couldn’t tell from his featureless face.
“Never mind. What are you the king of?”
He looked as shocked as someone with no features could. “Why, I am the reigning elven monarch, of course!” he sputtered.
“You’re not exactly what I had pictured,” I stated.
“That’s the problem!” the other elf snapped, his feet hitting the floor. “We don’t know what you pictured! There is an entire group of characters wandering around this book, without names, without descriptions…”
“Now, hold on just one cotton-picking minute, Bub! No one is wandering around this book! Every character has a very well-defined purpose!”
“But not every character has a well-defined appearance or even a name!” he countered, angrily.
“Well, of course not! Some of these characters won’t appear until the final third of the book. I haven’t even gotten to them yet!”
“Well, when you finally deign to get to them, they already have some scenes you can work into the book,” he replied smugly.
He motioned to Cab to read the minutes of the meeting.
“The king is suffering from insomnia.” Cab started, hesitantly.
“He’s not the only one,” I replied, testily.
Cab looked at the graceful elf who had dragged me to this meeting. “Mistress, the cleric who treats his malady is your…”
“Not another word!” I cut Cab off, knowing well what he was about to reveal. “Not everyone knows about that character yet.”
“That’s another problem,” the arrogant one asserted, banging his hand on the table for emphasis. “We have a king, a queen, a princess and her betrothed, and a cleric who all play a crucial part in this story, and they haven’t even been mentioned yet!”
“Some of them have,” I insisted.
He just quirked his eyebrow at me in his trademark infuriating manner.
“What are you complaining about, anyway? You have certainly had your share of good scenes,” I reminded him.
“I’m tired of carrying the plot alone.”
“Alone?” my elven companion and a tall, elderly human sitting next to Cab retorted in unison. “What are we, chopped liver?”
“Should I be taking all this down?” Cab asked me.
“No!” I snapped. “All right, I thank you for your input, but this meeting is adjourned. And,” I warned, whirling to face the arrogant one, “I don’t want to hear about any more meetings being held without me. I am the only one authorized to call a staff meeting, understood?”
He just sneered as he left the room, the other characters filing out behind him.
“He means well,” my elven companion soothed. “It’s just…well…he’s so arrogant!”
“Yeah, well, if he doesn’t watch himself, he’s liable to be edited out of the book altogether!” I replied.
The look on her face told me she could live with that.
Back in my bedroom, I courted sleep for the better part of two more hours before I gave up and headed back to the conference room. An unfamiliar female elf in cleric’s garb waited at the table, as if expecting me. “I understand you wish to discuss remedies for insomnia,” she said, gracing me with a warm smile.
Maybe I should send for Cab and his sheaf of parchment, I thought.
If you, too, suffer from insomnia, feel free to stop back from time to time. My elven cleric may be able to help. I’ll keep the porch light on for you.