“Why? I thought you were enjoying it,” I said.
“Oh yes, but strange things have been happening to me lately. Very strange things,” she said, and she pulled a chair and sat down in front of me. “In fact, I’m kind of freaking out right now.”
I raised my eye brows. “What do you mean?” I said.
“My stories are becoming real, and my characters are jumping off the page.”
I expected her to smile, but she was dead serious.
“What?” I said.
“Take you, for instance. You’re not real,” she paused. “I made you up last night. I was writing a story about a lonely boy who meets a lonely girl in the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia. The girl was crying, so the boy approached her. He was struck by her beauty, and the girl, when she saw him through her tears, recognized him as the man whom she dreamed about since she was little… It’s a crappy story, but that’s not the point. The point is, you are that boy.”
I laughed so suddenly that I startled her. “You must be drunk, Sophie!” I exclaimed, but there was no change in her expression.
She took out her pen and notebook and began writing.
I scratched my head. “What have you been drinking, Sophie?” I said, smiling.
She kept writing in silence. I looked at my watch: Eleven seventeen.
“Are you okay?” I said. “It’s getting late. I need to go now, but you must tell me first that you’re okay.”
“Go where?” she said.
“And where is home?”
I tried to think about it, but to my great astonishment, I couldn’t recall where I lived! Am I the one who’s drunk? There was no taste of alcohol in my mouth. My mind was perfectly clear. I was not tipsy. But I couldn’t remember where I lived. I reached inside my pocket: my car keys were still there. What is the matter with me?
“Sit down, Andrei,” she said nervously.
I walked across the room and opened the window. I saw a red SUV in the driveway and recognized it as my own.
“I just “commanded” you to do the things you just did and say the things you just said by writing them down in my notebook,” she began again. “Whatever I write happens, becomes real. Won’t you sit down?”
Confused, I reached for my wallet. I have cash, but I couldn’t find my driver’s license.
“I can’t find my license,” I said. I’m getting nervous.
“I don’t think you have one.”
“What do you mean I don’t have one?”
“I don’t think you have a driver’s license. But do you want to own one?”
“I already have a license, I just couldn’t find it.”
She bent down again and scribbled a few words.
“Check your wallet again,” she said.
I did, and was shocked to see my license. “How did you… What the heck is going on?” I exclaimed.
“Please, sit down.”
“Sorry, I can’t stay longer, Sophie. Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look well. Anyway, I’ll see you again tomorrow. Good night.” I hurriedly went to the door, but when I got out, my car was no longer there. I wanted to chase the thief, but I didn’t know where to go. The street was eerily silent. All the other houses were dark, and there was not a single star in the night sky.
Frightened, I didn’t want to go back to Sophie. Suddenly, I’m not sure I know her anymore. But I had no choice. The air was freezing and the darkness seemed to be swallowing up the whole neighborhood.
“Sorry, I took your car away,” she said. “You must confront this. The truth, as I already told you…”
“Stop it! I don’t believe you! You’re scaring me, Sophie!” I exclaimed.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I created you.”
“None of this is making any sense. This is crazy.”
“I don’t believe you.”
She bent down to write again. I slumped down the chair, involuntarily.
“Sorry, I had to make you sit down. You’re tired and upset. We need to talk about this calmly.”
“How can I calm down when you are telling me I’m not real!?”
“Well, you are real right now, aren’t you? Otherwise, who am I talking to? Unless, of course, I’m just imagining you. I must be going crazy!”
“You’re not crazy! I’ll prove to you I’m real,” I said. I tried to stand up, but my legs were fastened to the floor.
“You can’t stand up unless I allow it,” she said, and she began to cry.
“This is nuts!” I said helplessly, and her crying grew louder.
“I love you!” I exclaimed. “That is my proof!”
“No, you don’t. I wrote that script into your heart.”
“That’s absurd! The one thing that I am sure of in my life is that I love you! I love you! Why won’t you believe me! No one has planted this thing into my heart. I have loved you since the day that I first saw you.”
“Where did you first see me?”
To my utter horror, I thought, “St. Petersburg.”
“You see? You can’t love me because you’re not free. You’re not even real. I am very, very sorry, Andrei. I regret everything, and will never do this again. I shall un-write you now…”
“No! Don’t! Please! I’m real! I’m free! I love…”
The first to go was my speech. I flailed my arms in a state of total panic and desperation. Then my feet slowly disappeared, then my knees, my thighs, my waist, and my chest. I felt like I was drowning, like I was being swallowed by an ocean of thick, black liquid. I pleaded with her with my eyes, but she wouldn’t look at me.