Enough talking about writing fiction, just do it

by Andrea Elizabeth

What Would the Phantom Do?

Haley settled in her chair with anticipation. All it takes is to start typing and the story will come to life. She liked the idea of the story taking a life of its own without the stifling interference of an outline or a rainbow arc. There were characters in the netherworld waiting to tell their story. Their story, not hers. Lost things and people do not remain hidden, but they do wait for an entrance. The white paper and her fingers were all that were required.

Her breathing slowed as she felt the story approach. Each stroke of her fingers was a birth. A birth of the tiny cells that would form a new living organism.  A story.

Kenneth was a deeply romantic single person. He believed in true love, but noticed that girls did not find him exciting. His love was too accepting, too puppy-doggish. He did not provide the rush that girls were waiting for. His friends that were girls told him that they preferred the Phantom of the Opera to Raoul. He was Raoul and believed the Phantom to be a messed up criminal. He could not understand the attraction; neither could he deny it. He decided he would just have to accept that girls wanted to feel guilty about loving their heart’s desire. He decided to become a rogue.

First he removed all of the pastels and plaid from his closet. Wearing black should help. It would be better if he had black hair, but he wasn’t going to go so far as to dye its original medium brown. His hazel eyes would also have to do. He’d have to compensate for their innate gentleness some other way. As much as it made him uncomfortable, he realized that he would have to stare confidently at prospective girls. It would seem presumptuous and rude, but he would do it for their sakes. He wanted them to feel the thrill of victory. But he would have to be careful not to be too free with it so as to appear sleazy. He should also add a guilty look to activate their maternal side.

After making the wardrobe changes, Kenneth practiced his knowing stare, followed by a subtle guilty tightening of his features. Constrained desire should definitely work. Women love a man at war with himself.

Haley’s fingers stopped. She liked Kenneth, but worried that he was wanting to attract women-in-general instead of the woman of his dreams. Someone who wants a relationship isn’t as good a subject as someone who has found Her.

Nevertheless, Kenneth decided to test out his new look in the park: black t-shirt over casual jeans and sneakers. But walking alone in the park didn’t sound cool. Maybe he should borrow a dog. He heard that a great way to attract female attention would be by walking a dog. No. The Phantom of the Opera would not have a pet. He would probably steal other people’s pets and kill them in the bushes where they’d be found with notes attached to their collars. Girls love guys who write notes.

He took out his sticky pad, wrote notes on a few of them and put them in his pocket. Haley was dying to find out what the notes said, but she’d have to wait.

Kenneth sat on a bench in the park and waited. The Phantom isn’t desperate, except for revenge. Jogging men and women, couples and ladies with strollers and/or little kids on bikes passed him by, but no attractive women of around his age of 23, walking dogs. Towards evening he decided to go to Petsmart and look there. He went to the dog food section and found an attractive young lady in a jogging outfit, accompanied by her dog, reaching for a large bag. Kenneth approached, offering to hold her dog. The girl looked at him funny, thinking it would have been manlier if he’d offered to lift the 25lb. bag of food. Reading her frown, he thought, “the Phantom wouldn’t care about that. He’d just take the dog and keep going.” Instead Kenneth attached the sticky part of a note to the inside of Rover’s collar while her back was turned.

She still thanked him as she reached for Rover’s leash. Kenneth nodded after staring knowingly and made his exit. While at home waiting for his experiment to contact him, as he had included his email address in the note, he wondered what the Phantom would do in his free time? Desperately wait by the computer? No, he’d watch CSI for ideas for how to kill people. He casually checked his computer when the episode was over.

Sure enough. “Dear Opera Ghost, it is not my custom to answer emails from people I do not know. However, since you were helpful at Petsmart, I am curious to know the nature of your request. Sincerely, mst4.5k@gmail.com.”

Should he answer right away? Most definitely, the Phantom doesn’t worry about appearances. Well…

“Dear Myst 4.5, Thank you,” scratch the thank you – too grovel-lish. “You have wisely taken this chance. Your wisdom will better serve you if you and your dog will join me for coffee outside the Café du Fronde (women love it when mysterious men speak French) at 4pm tomorrow afternoon.” He hoped she wouldn’t be so desperate as to answer in order to make him feel more secure. He wasn’t a child. The Phantom would know that she would show. If she answered, he probably wouldn’t.

She didn’t, so he did. Early. The Phantom probably would have waited in order to have the advantage of observing her first, but he was more secure than that. He bravely sat on the tiny wire chair, legs apart, wrist dangling. He glanced at her boldly when she approached in her white t-shirt and floral skirt with a matching green leash. He forgot to look sheepish about it. Rover knelt at her heals as she sat across from him.

Neither of them spoke at first, but looked steadily into each others’ eyes. He narrowed his to look less gentle. Christen was expressionless. “Can you sing?” he asked, pushing her coffee and the packets of creamer and sugar towards her. “Not really”, she said evenly as she poured in two creams.

“Doesn’t matter, I can.” He took a sip before he leaned towards her, “When you’re beautiful, no one CARES,” in an operish, though quiet whisper.

Her gaze said her heart was his. “It worked!” he shouted inaudibly so that only Haley could hear. His return gaze promised that he would flirt with her every day for the rest of their lives. Haley was very glad for them.