Tag Archives: metafiction

Manic Pixie Dreamgirl; or, the Post-Postmodern Prometheus

She came to life on a cold, flat slab, a thin slice of pulped plant flesh cut down to 8.5×11 inches and college-ruled with blue lines and pink borders on the edge. Her master made her through an ungodly alchemy of other fictional females, the edges of their words stitched together like skin. Her fingers came from Garden State; her left leg from Elizabethtown, while her right came from The Perks of Being A Wallflower; her luscious lips were culled from High Fidelity‘s Charlie; her fashion sense was stolen from one Holly Golightly; and her voice was ripped straight from the throat of Zoe Deschanel herself.

In short, she was perfect. So he flipped the switch and brought the page to life — his beautiful, monstrous bride, unnaturally thrust into reality and forced  to do his bidding. He cackled wildly as the little black inkjets spit her out upon the page in all her bubbling two-dimensional glory. “Arise!” he screamed, “Arise!” as the thunder clapped behind him, its cavernous boom breathing life into his creation.

When her eyes sprung open, he saw that she had a heterochromia — one green eye, one brown, a subtle quirk that brought her unrealisticness to life. She looked at him with those sparkling, mismatched eyes and said, “Where am I?”

“New Jersey,” he replied. “Or, maybe LA, I don’t know, I haven’t really decided yet. Williamsburg? That’s kind of in the middle, right?”

“Williamsburg, wow! I’ve never been to New York City,” she said as she sat up on the table and peered around his office laboratory. She saw posters of indie rock bands tacked up to the walls, and fraying composition notebooks building wood piles in the corners by the sagging full-size mattress that he pretended was a bed. “Do you have any tea? I could really use some organic honey chamomile with ginger, one Stevia and maybe just a splash of almond milk. Have you heard the new Arcade Fire record? I haven’t, I don’t listen to music released after 1973. Oh! Let’s go dancing! I’ve never danced before. Is there weather outside? It should definitely be raining, unless it’s sunny, which is also good, too. Do you have some kind of whimsical pet name I should call you?”

“Jesus Christ, shut up already,” he said.

“But…I don’t know your name,” she said with a sparkle in her smile.

“You can call me ‘Master’,” he said. “But just don’t talk right now. That’s not what I made you for.”

“What do you mean? A free spirit can’t be made like this. I’m independent, a free woman. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Well, yes, but you’re not supposed to…I don’t know, want things. You shouldn’t have like, opinions or whatever. Jesus Christ!” He crumpled up the paper, crushed it smaller, smaller still, until it turned into a little ball that fit inside his fist, then he threw it at the trash can and stomped out of his bedroom, slamming the door behind him for dramatic effect.

But what he didn’t realize was that it was already too late. He had already let his creation out into the world. In all her quirky wonder, in all her hypomanic majesty. And it was a world that she could never understand, a system of rules that she could never truly fit inside. So she grabbed the nearest hoodie, crawled out his bedroom window, leaving the curtains flapping behind her in the evening breeze, and she escaped, setting out to find a place where she could spread her manic pixie madness and be free.

The End Of The Story

The story is a building and I take the elevator to the seventh floor, the seventh story. I knock on her door but there’s no answer and I’m too impatient now, too energized, thriving on adrenaline, and of course I have the keys, so I unlock the door and step into her story, her world, where she lives.

It’s not a bedroom or a living space, like many of the stories in the building. Instead I find myself standing in an alleyway behind what looks to be an old fashioned movie theatre. It’s certainly not what I expected to find, but the setting doesn’t matter either way because once I find her we can leave this place and build a whole new story on our own.

She steps out into the street, all dolled up in soft subtle makeup. She wears a short fringe dress and pearl necklace, her raven hair done up with a feather and a silk scarf flowing across her exposed clavicle; the design is exotic, expensive, like nothing I’ve ever seen, and the scarf seems to go on for miles. She walks arm-in-arm with a handsome man dressed dapper in a business suit, with golden cufflinks and a silk tie. A little boy walks in front of them. He’s eight years old, or ten, I can’t decide. He has the same raven hair as Mary Sue, and the features of his face are just like the man beside her.

She has a family. I never knew she had a family. A child. A life. She never told me her story. How could she keep that a secret from me, after all I’ve done for her? After everything we’ve shared?

I feel the betrayal boiling inside of me and as I clench my fists in rage I notice something cold and hard between my fingers. I look down and realize that I’m holding a gun, an M1911 .45 caliber pistol, or maybe a six-shooter, I can’t decide, with a Russian name emblazoned on its side. It’s the same gun I stole, the one that was meant for her, and I realize that I never changed the story after all. Everything that’s happened, it was all part of the story. This was always how it was going to go, and it doesn’t affect me either way. I’m just doing my job.

Mary Sue looks up to see me standing in their path, the shock and surprise spilling all across her pretty face. I take a step forward, my left foot splashing in a well-placed puddle. She throws her arms up in surrender. I hear her say something and it sounds like it could have been my name, as if I ever had one. So I point the pistol, pull the trigger, tell the story. The hammer flies forward, knocks the bullet down the barrel, a small explosive force that sends it coursing through the air and through her chest. It shatters her necklace and I watch the string of pearls as they fall to the ground. I let off another shot just to be safe and then turn my attention towards her husband. I pull the trigger three more times and watch as the young boy falls to his knees. He sits in a puddle of blood and cries, cradling his mother’s lifeless body. I drop the gun and escape down the alleyway, back into the building, into nothingness, leaving the boy to deal with the damage and live out the story all alone.

Mary Sue was the only person who ever showed any interest in me, ever believed in me, believed that I could be a story. She was right, and so I shot her dead, just because the story demands it. I thought I made a choice and saved her life, but it turns out that I’ve just been a story all along. I guess that means I finally got what I wanted, although it didn’t turn out quite the way I’d planned. It may not be a happy ending, but it is The End, and if nothing else, at least I’ll be remembered.

I think Father would be proud of that.

The Ballad of Gideon Stargrave

In a city full of strangers,
or a town that’s drowned in dreams,
I’m the albatross, awaiting flight;
a soldier’s greatest scheme
before his life and pride are blown apart.
Locked on target for her heart:
His pen’s his only missile that he flies.
But he’s still stuck somewhere
between himself and I.

Oh, if I could be him
he wouldn’t have to be me.
There’s an albatross around my neck
and we both know what that means.

So he’s offering his blessing
to the boy out in the cold
because he’s given all that he can give.
He’s left with just a face,
and though the girls all swear he’s handsome,
it’s just not to his taste.
Without his arms, without a neck,
without his feet, without a heart,
he’s more than alive,
and that’s more than a start.

He gave me most of his mind.
He asked me to write,
to color his life
but a poet is lost
when his life is all right;
when the girls are in love;
when he sleeps through the night
without a sound.

Storytime Dreams

I told Mother this morning that when I grow up, I want to be a protagonist in my own story. She just laughed as she set a plate down in front of me with two strips of bacon, two slices of toast, and two eggs over easy. “When I was your age, it was every boy wanted to grow up to be a firefighter, or astronaut,” she said. “Now everyone wants to be the protagonist in their own story. If everyone was a protagonist, then who would do the work that makes the world go ‘around, huh?”

She always delivered the guilt trip over things like this. “Can you imagine if Ms. Mott wanted to be a protagonist? Who would be left to teach you about reading and arithmetic? If everyone was a protagonist, there’d be no one left to teach you how to be a protagonist!” Ms. Mott was my second grade teacher. She was beautiful, blonde, and buxom, and she was very understanding and patient when I needed help on my math homework.

Mother sat down at the table across from me in our tiny, cramped kitchenette and looked at the eggs on her plate. She sliced cleanly through one of them with the edge of fork; the yolk didn’t run, meaning she’d left them on the stove for too long. Mother always hated when the yolk was too hard. It reminded her of my father. That was why she was so sensitive about my dream of being my own protagonist — father had left her for the exact same reason. “I’m tired of living my life for the betterment of someone else’s story!” I heard him yelling angrily through the wallpaper of our rent-controlled apartment. “My father worked for the union for 55 years, and all he had to show for it was a boring old pension and some ungrateful kids. He would have been happier if he just had his own story. I’m not going to make the same mistakes as my old man.”

The next morning, my father was gone. By the end of the weekend, Mother had cleared out everything that reminded her of him. Well, except for me. I’d always had his pale blue eyes and moppy brownish hair — and now I had his foolish dreams as well.

“Well…maybe I can be an astronaut, and a protagonist!” I tried telling her before biting into my first slice of bacon. The crunching reverberated all throughout the empty hollow of my young head. I waited for the echo to die down before swallowing; there was still no response from Mother. I looked back down at the food in front of me, the food that she had so lovingly prepared for me, and I tried to appreciate each bite as I forced it down. The only other sound was that of Mother trying to fold the newspaper in order to read it properly — our kitchen table was too small these days to rest the pages on.

As I finished up my breakfast, all she said was, “Hurry up. You don’t want to miss the bus.”

Creation Myth

In the beginning there was a Story
And the Story was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Tradition of the Story moved upon the face of the waters.
And the Story said, Let there be God: and there was God. And the Story made God in its image.
And the Story saw God, that God was both wrathful and loving: and the Story divided the good from the evil.
And the Story called the good and evil into conflict, and the light against the dark.
And the Story set this in motion through Time
with only God to guide its words.