“Okay, THAT was brutal.” Arianna flopped onto the sofa, fanning herself animatedly with her hands. “I thought she was going to kill me off for sure that time, she leaves me in way too many cliff hangers!” She whined and curled her legs up to her chest so that she could rest her pouty face on her kneecaps. Life as a protagonist was no joke, she had survived three novels so far and was barely scraping through the fourth.
Matthew sat on the recliner and rolled his eyes in their sockets. “You think you’ve got it bad? She left me with this in chapter four!” He motioned to the steak knife sticking out of his shoulder. “And I have no idea when she plans on taking it back out again, it’s starting to itch. You’ve got nothing to worry about, you’re her ‘golden girl’,” he air quoted with his fingers, “her leading lady.”
“But what if she gets bored of me? What if she makes me kick the bucket?” The bumbling brunette began chewing on the nail of her thumb. “I’ve been with her for so many years now, what if she wants someone new and fresh?” Arianna always got into a state – it was literally one of her main character traits. She was beautiful and bubbly and at the helm of the entire world that had been developed around her. “I’ve been here since the prologue! The PROLOGUE, Matt!”
“God, why do you always have to whine so much?” Matthew grumbled and rubbed his stubble tiredly. Day after day, they faced the same fears lately: who would survive to the next chapter? In the beginning, they had been among so much company that the ones who hadn’t crossed paths yet had to wear name tags to introduce themselves. There used to be a waiting longue for ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ but that had been scrapped years ago and now they all congregated in the same place.
Their squabbling came to a silence as the door creaked open, and in sauntered Jessica, face awash in a stupor of denial. Her cheeks puffed as she combed her fingers through her wavy blonde hair. “Oh boy.”
Arianna propped up immediately, hazel eyes landing on her most dear companion. Their friendship was two books strong. “What? Oh boy, what?”
“I…I just ran your cat over with my truck.”
“WHAT?! You…MY CAT?!” There was a ‘whoosh’ as Arianna clumsily toppled from the couch, landing face-first on the floor. “Not Mr. Fuzzymitts.” She groaned, still convinced that their creator had lacked real imagination for the name that day. “Jess, how could you?”
Jessica, offended, held her hands to her chest, her mouth agape. “Excuse me? I didn’t, she made me do it. Don’t worry, it was quick, it only lasted one sentence.”
“Well that’s just great.” Arianna huffed and rubbed the carpet burn under her chin as she sat cross-legged on the floor. “My dead cat doesn’t even get a full paragraph, that little shit was introduced in the very first book, he had a better survival rate than most other characters.” Her hands ran down her face dreadfully. “Can’t wait until someone breaks the news to me in the next chapter.”
“Yeah, about that.” Jess cleared her throat, becoming bashful as she crouched in front of the pragmatic protagonist. “Um, I heard a tiny sneak peak of what she has in store for us next chapter.” A sheepish grin crossed the blonde’s lips as she reached for Arianna’s shoulders. “You and I are finally going to…you know…get together.”
“WHAT?!” Arianna went scarlet, clambering fitfully back against the couch behind her. “You just murdered my cat!”
“I’m just telling you what I heard, don’t you notice she has been giving us loads of chemistry lately?”
Matthew became interested again and subtly leaned forward, raising a hand. “Am I in the next chapter? Do I get to watch?”
Jessica’s nose wrinkled uncertainly. “Sorry Matt, sounds like it is going to be Arianna/Jessica centric.”
Sulking, the male lurched back in his armchair. “Great, you two are finally getting your big moment while I’m bleeding out on the kitchen floor. Fantastic. I’m starting to think there is some serious favouritism going on, I haven’t seen either of you two get hurt in over ten chapters.”
While the trio were squabbling, the door opened again. And this time a neatly dressed man walked through, filled with confidence as he sported them a dashing grin. They knew him as 'Malcolm the Menace', a renowned serial killer at large who was constantly one step ahead of the police. Matthew frowned and unconsciously guarded his shoulder as his attacker entered the lounge. Malcolm twirled his walking cane around his fingers. “Well, looks like I got another one.” Unlike the peers of his world, he flopped onto the sofa without an ounce of rigidness. “Golly, you lot are dropping like flies these days, I do hope our maker isn’t losing interest in you otherwise she might give you over to me – a fate no character wants.”
Arianna eyed the antagonist responsible for killing her parents and producing so much havoc and heartache into her world. If she was the light, he was indisputably the darkness, for whatever good she had achieved, he had stained it with his wickedness. “Don’t get too cocky, you don’t have plot armour Malcolm.”
“Neither do you.” Malcolm bit back with equal edge and winked deviously.
The brunette gasped and wagged her finger at him. “Shut up! I’m the main character, without me you wouldn’t exist! None of you would!” She stepped up onto the centre of the coffee table and held a proud hand to her chest. “Do you think a story starts with an idea? No! It starts with a character, it starts with someone to build those ideas around, to build a world around, and she loved me enough to give me a shot! She believed in me!” Another of Arianna’s traits: motivational speeches. Once she got going, it was at average a full paragraph until she stopped. “And I believe in her! She has taken me this far; she has taken us all this far! She doesn’t just decide our fate, she gave us life, she helped shape us into exactly who we were meant to be, she is our mother – and a mother loves all of her children. We’ve got this, guys, we’re a team, we made her just as much as she made us!”
Jessica rested a hand beneath her cheek and sighed dreamily as she spectated Arianna’s awe-inspiring display. “I think I’m starting to understand why she wants me to fall in love with you.”
Arianna’s belief wasn’t shaken after that day. By the fifth book, she was still in the lounge, sitting beside Jessica (who had become her life partner) and together they watched their newly adopted kitten toying with a ball of yarn. Matthew smiled as he joined the pair on the couch. They were waiting for the others to join them; it wouldn’t be long now.
“Hey Malcolm, how’s it going back there?” Arianna grinned and tilted her head to look at the solitary cell in the far corner of the lounge, where her antagonist now spent all his time. “Looks like she still knows how to write a happy ending after all – it isn’t a myth.”