by Ian Jenkins
From a story in-progress, an author worries when his story protagonist goes missing.
|No one ever got his name. No one ever really had the chance. Actually, no one even knew if it was a 'he' or a 'she'? For the sake of argument and simplicity, we can probably say it was a 'he', but no one will ever know for certain. He had a job, one that many in his position do not even know about. For a short amount of time, he was to be the center of attention. Every move he made, every breath he took, every word he said was to be recorded in word, to be passed along by a set of eyes, like yours pass along these words now.
He was to be a Protagonist, and I was to be the Author of his tale.
It was to be a grand epic of other worlds, heroism, grand battles, and a coming-of-age for this everyman thrust from the familiar into the unknown, completely and totally original from every other one that came before it. But before I could even begin weaving the threads of this magnificent tapestry of words, the unthinkable happened, and he became aware, early on, of what was to happen. Not that he was destined to be some great hero to an unknown people. No, he became aware that he was to be a protagonist in my story. How he discovered this is unknown to me. To my shock, instead of embracing his destiny, he defied it. He defied me. He ran.
I panicked. How could something like this have happened? Had it even ever happened before in the history of literature? How could a protagonist simply REFUSE to be a part of his own story? Refuse his Author? Besides that, how could he have managed to do so? As I gazed down upon the white space of my word processor, I began to reassure myself. 'Surely,' I thought, 'once I begin to type and bring the story to life, I will find him or he will show himself. In either case, this will go forward as planned.' And so, confident in my assesment, I began to type.
The opening scene was beautiful. The sun had long since emerged from the horizon, and was slowly starting the day proper for the small, bustling town below its brow-beating light. For the citizens, it would have been just another mid-summer morning. Folks on their way to the work, whether in-town or heading out onto the highway to find their occupational fortunes in the larger city. The children practically had the run of the place, or so they would have liked to think, had their mothers with their collective saintly patience not jolted that thought right out of their heads.
As the introduction wound down, it would have brought us to a small cafe in the market district of the town, where our Protagonist would have been introduced. Perhaps he would have been on the waitstaff, working to make an honest dollar. Or maybe he would have been there to eat? Indeed, those that came from this sleepy little burg but made their way across the world would swear by this cafe's food to everyone they met. The details of the cafe's interior decoration, the smell of various coffees and baked goods, and even the patrons, enjoying a leisurely breakfast with family and friends, or even just a few single people content to have their daily stop while reading the paper, all flowed out upon the page. A suitable, humble beginning for this story.
And yet, the Protagonist did not appear.
I scanned the text I had written, specifically about the patrons. I don't know why, but I felt that the Protagonist was actually in there, in that scene. It was a strange feeling. 'Perhaps,' I thought, 'he is one of the minor characters in the scene.' The thought spurred me on. What an ingenious trick! The Protagonist sought to hide himself among the background characters to avoid detection. Easily remedied, I believed. Each of the small, nigh-insignificant characters would be fleshed out, to the point that any of them could have been the Protagonist.
If he would not appear, then I would have to make another...