I was lost in thought, typing a reply to someone’s Facebook post. “Weeds are just flowers who didn’t hire the right public relations firm.” I chuckled at my own wit.
I jumped and looked up from my computer screen. My Cleric stood at the head of a group of my characters, at the door to my office.
“May we come in, Mistress?” my Cleric asked ever so sweetly.
My jaw almost hit the floor. Usually, my characters just popped up, unannounced and unexpected. They invaded the privacy of my office – and most other areas of my house – at will. My Gypsy had even, on numerous occasions, picked the lock to the office door to gain entrance. I was constantly reminding my characters, usually at the top of my voice, to stay out of my office unless I invited them in. To finally have them actually ask permission was gratifying. I wondered what they were up to.
I gestured to the group to enter, but it was soon obvious that the small office could not hold the entire group, even after my Dragon shrank to the size of a mouse. “Why don’t we try the conference room?” I suggested.
A few minutes later, we were all seated around the conference room table. I felt somewhat akin to King Arthur, looking at his knights gathered around the famed Round Table. Only, in my case, there were no knights, only a seemingly rag-tag band of characters. My Cleric sat to my right. My Foreman sat next to her, with my Young Hero and my Gypsy taking chairs directly behind her, the three forming a protective half-circle around the nervous Cleric.
My Old Dwarf sat to my left, with my Sorceress, my Dragon (now the size of a large Alsatian), and my Arrogant One occupying the adjacent seats. The newcomer, my Bounty Hunter, sat opposite me.
“Well, I suppose you are all wondering why I called this meeting.” I chuckled.
Nine characters sat there with blank looks on their faces.
“Mistress? I do not believe you called this meeting,” my Cleric advised me, leaning close and keeping her voice at a discreet whisper. She wrinkled her brow, and concern for me clouded her normally bright blue eyes.
“I know that. I was attempting some humor,” I replied flatly.
“Oh.” My Cleric’s confusion was mirrored in the faces of the others. Would these medieval characters never grasp modern humor?
“Right,” I said, sighing deeply. “So, would someone tell me why we are here?”
“It’s that man!” my Arrogant One informed me without preamble.
“Your man, Mistress,” my Cleric answered timidly. She blushed deeply and quickly glanced away, unable to look me in the eye.
All nine characters nodded in unison.
“What has Miles done…or should I ask what you have done to Miles?” My eyes widened as possible scenarios flashed through my mind. Has he been skewered by one of my Bounty Hunter’s arrows, cleaved in half by my Old Dwarf’s axe, or perhaps roasted to a crisp by my Dragon? I started to sweat.
“Talk!” I commanded, my voice cracking with panic.
All nine characters tried to speak at once.
“One at a time!” I yelled, trying to be heard over the uproar.
I turned to my Cleric. “You seem to be the spokesperson for the group. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” I invited.
“Well, Mistress…” She hesitated and looked around the room for support. All the others were suddenly finding their fingernails, the bookshelf, or the ceiling tiles, to be of great interest. My Cleric sighed, and tried again.
“I am certain your husband is a very wonderful person…” Again she paused, looking for support.
“Yes, he is,” I agreed in an even voice. “So?” I asked, quirking an eyebrow.
“So he is always in the way!” blurted my Gypsy.
“Excuse me?” I sat up and fixed him with a warning look. “He is in the way? He belongs here!”
“And we do not?” My Bounty Hunter jumped from his seat.
“Well, actually, no. Most writers do not have their homes overrun by their characters,” I informed him, my voice starting to gain in volume.
“I assure you, Madam, we would all return to our own world in an instant, if we knew how,” my Arrogant One assured me with a sneer.
“That do na be the point!” my Old Dwarf shouted. “We be here, whether or no we be welcome. But we do na be needin ta trip o’er yer husband every time we be turnin’ aboot.”
“Indeed,” my Gypsy chimed in. “The three of us were just in the kitchen, getting a teensy little snack. He came in with a dustpan and broom. He very rudely chased us out, saying we were making a royal mess!” He turned to my Foreman and my Young Hero, who nodded in agreement.
“And he chased the Dwarf and me out of the living room, saying it was not an archery range!” my Bounty Hunter stated resentfully.
“We dina be harmin’ none o yer gewgaws,” my Dwarf added, sulkily.
“He was quite rude to me, when he informed me the sparks from my glamours and enchantments could scorch the floor or the draperies in the dining area,” my Sorceress complained.
My Dragon growled and smoke curled from her nostrils, as she recounted the indignities she had suffered when Miles had chased her from her favorite easy chair in the den.
Each character had something to add, some complaint to register. Finally, I had heard more than enough.
“Get this straight, all of you,” I screeched. “Miles lives here. He is my husband. He is real, the same as me, and he belongs here in the real world. You are a bunch of characters that fell out of my manuscripts. If anything, Miles and I do not need to trip over you every time we turn around!”
My characters looked stunned. My Cleric appeared on the verge of tears. I felt like a heel.
“Look,” I said, softening my voice, and changing my tack. “Miles is really your best friend.”
My Old Dwarf snorted, and the rest looked skeptical.
“It’s true. He does more than his share, taking care of the house while I deal with your stories. He doesn’t mean to be rude or nasty about it, but he works hard helping me keep this place presentable. He gets annoyed when you mess it up as quickly as he straightens it. He does this work so I have the time I need to chronicle your stories. If I had to deal with the upkeep of the house all by myself, you would all be languishing in my manuscripts. I would have no time to work with you.”
“Well, I suppose we should thank him for that,” my Cleric acknowledged, though a frown still lingered on her face.
“Just stop raiding the refrigerator every hour on the hour,” I told them sternly, “and clean the kitchen after your little feasts. Stop the indoor weapons practice, stop the magic tricks, stop interrupting our sleep every night with your staff meetings and various crises, and,” I concluded, giving my Dragon a sharp look, “stay off the furniture.”
To a character, they all hung their heads, their cheeks burning brightly.
“We will, Mistress,” my Cleric promised fervently, but I noticed a lot of grumbling among the others.
As I was returning to my office, Miles came down the stairs. He was holding a pair of his shoes, charred almost beyond recognition.
“Dragon?” I asked.
Miles frowned and nodded. “Third pair this week. I don’t think your Dragon likes me.”
“I’ll talk to the little beastie,” I promised.
Miles looked at the group filing sheepishly out of the conference room, and asked suspiciously, “What are they up to now?”
“The usual,” I replied.
Miles sighed deeply. “I’ll keep an eye on them and try to keep them out of trouble for you. You just keep writing.”
I smiled broadly and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before returning to my office. As he walked back up the stairs, I called after him, “Honey, would you please…?
But he was already ahead of me. “I know, I know. I’ll leave the porch light on, in case any of your readers want to stop by and see what happens next.”
I smiled again. I’m so lucky to have a husband who understands my writing process.