I have written this letter many times in my head. Many times I have said too much, or not enough. Call me a perfectionist, and I would not see a fault in the claim. But for you especially, there is a certain level of perfection I must attain to do you justice.
You know me, and you know how rarely it is for me to do something wrong. To you, however, I will admit that I have knowing made two mistakes in my life. My first mistake was that I looked up. My second mistake was that I could not bring myself to look back down.
I heard once of a story of a rich man and the beggar that lived outside his gates, and how they both died. The beggar went to heaven and the rich man went to hell. There was a chasm between the two realms, so the story went, so far no one would ever be able to successfully leap across between the two places but close enough for one to see a person’s face. This fate extends beyond death into life, it seems. I see it when I think of you and me. You are a great, unreachable paradise and I am a victim damned to eternal torment.
I am told I rush too quickly into things. Maybe they are right. I haven’t ever been one to let opportunity pass me by. I’ve broken every code that has governed my world in my attempt to deliver this important message. I was not designed to create words, I’m supposed to live among them. To most, I have only the significance given to me by ink alone, but you don’t see me so simply, do you? You are beyond that.
I am the main character of your favorite story, after all.
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Over the years, I have had a number of people tell me about things I should write. Some people want me to make them characters in one of my stories. Others approach me with full fledged novel ideas. Memorably, I remember being pitched a spin-off trilogy based n a minor character from my novel, Haywood Micaye, with the person’s main request being a 10% of the sales of said trilogy and of the subsequent movie production. This is one of those prompted stories pitched to me by an acquaintance backstage during play practice.
What compelled me to actually commit to writing this story was not because of the trivial notion that “someone made me do it”. I am of the belief that I can write whatever I choose and that I am not going to bend over backwards to please the world. However, when I began t pay around with this idea, the creation of the story turned out to be a real delight for me. I think that publishing it in an actual anthology would be the best way to honor this short story and complete its life cycle.
You might recognize the idea, and also might recognize that the writing prompt itself has been floating around Tumblr and Pinterest for a while now. I’m sure since the prompt was posted there have been numerous iterations on the concept. This is simply my take on the idea.
A version of this story was performed as an Original Works piece at the Warsaw Speech and Debate Tournament on February 4th, 2017. It won second place.