A Visit from Annie
Annie is visiting. She's a fictional character, but I haven't written her story yet. This makes her impatient.
She stands behind me and points at the screen. "What's that?"
"Chapter six," I say. I keep typing. I have learned that you can keep the distractions away if you keep your fingers moving over the keyboard. It's the second that you pause that you're tempted to click on the Internet, fetch a snack, clean the linen closet, or talk with an imaginary girl with antlers on her head.
It's slightly more difficult to maintain focus when the imaginary character brings chips.
Crunching in my ear, she squints at the screen. "I don't think that word means what you think it means."
"First drafts are supposed to be rough," I say.
"Then congratulations," she says. "You've succeeded. I've seen white water rapids that run smoother than your prose."
"Thanks," I say. I don't look at her as I type.
"I've seen dirt roads that are smoother."
"Thanks," I say.
"I've seen mountain ranges...
"Got it. Thanks. Can you... Be somewhere else for a while?"
"Nope," she says. She hops up onto my desk. Her antlers scrape the ceiling. Flecks of plaster rain down on my keyboard. "I don't have a 'somewhere else.'"
I pause typing. "Well, where are you from?"
She grins at me, as if aware that she has won. "A forest. A forest of endless night."
"Stupid," I say. "Can't have a forest without sunlight. Chlorophyll."
"Fine." She pouts. "It's a forest where the trees are alive..."
"Trees are alive."
"These talk. And sing. And kill."
"Huh," I say. "Killer trees?"
Annie grins at me. "You don't know the half of it. You think the trees are bad? You should see the squirrels." She holds out a tortilla chip. "Wanna chip?"
I take it. "Tell me about the squirrels..."