Letter to My Protagonist

I got this idea from Laura Stanfill’s blog, but immediately after I decided it was a really good idea, I realized that the character I had in mind as the recipient of the letter had been killed off in the last story I wrote. I thought I might write a eulogy for her, but this it’s all fiction, so I imagine her receiving the letter in the afterlife, wherever she may have ended up. (I think that, based on her state of mind when she died, she may have gone to heaven, but I could not imagine what kind of animal or person she would be reincarnated into, if the afterlife is based on reincarnation.)

Dear Rachel,

Now that your body has returned to the earth and the odd powers that composed your spirit have returned to the ether from whence they came, I have to be honest with you. You are not real. You are a fabrication, a half-truth, a lie. I invented you as a way to live vicariously through someone with qualities I could never possess. As I’m sure you know (after all, you did reinvent yourself quite a few times), we all get tired of our mundane lives.

I created you to be everything I was not: inquisitive, outgoing, unafraid of showing emotion… and you had the strength to reform yourself. Had I somehow gotten into the same situations I had written you into, I don’t think I would have survived. I don’t think I would have been able to hold on. But in a way, I did not put you into those situations. After a while, the puppet grew to outsmart its puppet master. When I put the strings down at night, you dragged yourself along the ground. You eventually grew strong enough to walk on your own, to make decisions on your own, to take over stories, to cast away the strings.

I tried to forget about you. I tried to kill you off a few times, but I never could manage it. You kept showing up. I had an idea for another story and you appeared in that universe, demanding to be part of the plot. I let you in and you revealed your dark side, a facet of you that I never knew you possessed. You systematically destroyed each of my other characters’ lives, one by one, and I began to despise you. I was ashamed that you had once reminded me of myself—that you were a part of me.

But you atoned for your sins. You came back in yet another story and in this story, you redeemed yourself. When I thought about your redemption and how it brought about your death, I think I figured out the only reason you kept coming back. So you could have Peter back, so you did not have to walk alone.

You’ve been quiet lately, Rachel. I think that it’s because you’re now satisfied. But one day, you have to come back, if only just for one night in my odd state between waking and dreaming, to tell me how the afterlife is. Say hi to Peter for me. I miss him.

Your former puppet master,

Maggie