Part 2

(In which Anaia finally dies – almost)

The bad thing about trying to write in the morning is that most of the characters are either half-asleep or really don't feel like doing anything yet. The bad thing about trying to write in the afternoon is that all the heavily worked-for concentration (however little it was) has just disappeared together with the weird foreign food in their lunch boxes.

"Okay, back to our positions. Where were we again?" I sigh, quickly reading through my notes again.

"We were with Ferran's missing lines," Ruhan says. Her flowers look more wilted than ever. Never mind, that may be interpreted as a touch of realism. Anyway, it's not likely anyone will ever see it unless the Typer goes on a frenzy again and describes absolutely everything in great detail.

"Yes, where are my lines?" Ferran asks.

"Let's not start this again," I mumble. "Okay, let's do a different scene then. I'll bring your lines tomorrow." And I scribble it onto my hand to make sure I really remember this time.

"Writing on your hand gives you cancer, you know," Sylvia – ever the hypochondriac – remarks. I don't know what it is with those disease freaks – she's already the second of my characters who keeps thinking she's getting sick!

"Okay; Ruhan, go away, I think I'll write ahead the funeral chapter so we can be rid of Anaia. Every character who's not supposed to be on the elf planet at this time, please disappear. Thank you." I dig through my notes; I'm glad I scribbled some ideas down for this chapter already. I've talked this through with Ferran twenty times already, I think he should be able to improvise well enough. And Anaia won't need to say anything anyway.

The Love your Enemies Series door swings open (almost banging into poor little Ruhan's face) and Anaia skips out delightedly. "Finally! I thought it would never happen!"

I give her the glare she deserves. "You shouldn't be rejoicing! You're being parted from your loving beloved husband! You know the pain he'll be going through for years because of you! And you're never going to see the baby you've been waiting for since you were married, and neither is he. Isn't that just tragic? Let me see some tears!"

She takes a little familiar-looking box out of a fold in her beautiful white dress, sticks a fine fragile finger into it and dabs some terribly pink glittery powder into her eyes. There come the tears. "Happy?" she asks.

"Definitely not! Where did you get that Instant Tear Powder from?" But I know already. "CECY!" I yell.

The Werethings door opens slowly. "You called?" Cecy asks, blinking and rubbing sleep from her eyes. Trust a werecat to end up sleeping all day.

"Didn't I tell you there would be consequences if you didn't shut down your silly black market once and for all?"

"I did shut down the black market," she remarks. "I just waited until after everything was sold out. You didn't expect me to sit around with all that junk forever, did you? Anyway, I needed money for my potion ingredients. I can't help it you give us too little pocket money. Now can I go back to sleep?"

"NO." I turn to Anaia. "You know, you're such a nuisance that I don't even mind getting rid of you anymore. Don't you even try to feel what you're supposed to feel?"

"Nu-uh," she says, popping the box of Instant Tear Powder back inside her dress. "I can't help it that you totally misunderstood my personality and tried to turn me into Miss Tragic Princess."

"You're totally right," I exclaim. "I had no idea you were such an unfeeling, anorexic, vain creature! What does Ferran see in you?"

I look at Ferran. He shrugs and looks back at me.

"Oh my goodness don't tell me it's my fault," I mutter.

All the doors open and as in one voice, all my characters from thirteen years of writing say, "It is."

"Good! Now where's my extra notebook? Merina!" I snatch it from her hand as she passes it to me, then go to the last page. "Make-over for Anaia!" I declare, writing it down.

Anaia gives me a cold look. "Make-over? I thought you were going to kill me. Get a move on, I'm dying of boredom!"

"Keywords," I mutter to myself as I scribble. "Meek, quiet, submissive…"

"What the hell?" she cries. "I'm not that!"

"You will be once I process this through the Characteriser," I grin.

"I'd rather die. Can I? Please?"

"Very much in love with Ferran, afraid of death…"

"No way! I refuse!"

"Stamping your foot won't help, dear," I say smugly. "You're an elf – in your world, all elves, or most of them, are afraid of death because they are afraid of non-existence, and they believe that death is non-existence and the punishment of the gods. The longer you live, the better they believe you are. So of course you're scared of an early death because that would mean you were terrible in life. Poor Ferran will have to deal with all of it, though, because he adores you and people will be coming to him saying probably you cheated on him a lot and that's why you died."

"What… how could they find out?" She stares at me, wide-eyed.

Another of these moments. The table looks very inviting… my head would so love to be banged onto it, but right now the sight of poor poor Ferran makes me change my mind.

"Okay, this is it. Very faithful, pure, practically perfect, whatever. And Ferran will need the amnesia treatment after that, sorry." I tear the list out of the notebook and push it into the Characteriser. Anaia looks absolutely horrified.

"Can't you just kill me instead?"

"Nope. Anyway, you won't even remember what it was like to be this. You'll be a true angel, lovely and wonderful and easy to work with. Remember, meek and submissive and…"


"Oh please no!" I stare at the Characteriser. Trails of smoke rise from it, circling in the air. Looks like it's given up on life and decided to pack up just this minute. The note paper is crumpled up, half-way through. I look up, not sure whether I want to know what's happened to Anaia.

"Now look what you've done," she says, sounding somewhat more meek than before but still a bit like her old badly characterised self. "Thank you so much!" She gives a shy smile but her eyes are glaring. Then she sees Ferran and skips over to him. "I love you so much!" she says, holding him, but when he kisses her she gives him a resounding slap.

"No… no no no no no!" I bang my head three time against the table. "Nothing ever works! Argh!"

"You want to call the technician?" Merina suggests, and I can see she's trying her best to hold back a wave of laughter.

"Yes please!" I borrow her hand phone (no idea where she got one; they don't even exist in her world and shouldn't be circling around in here) and quickly dial the story technician's number.

His wife answers. "He's not here; he's on holiday."

I give an exasperated sigh. "When's he coming back?"

"In a month or two."

I want to throw the telephone across the room, but Merina quickly snatches it out of my hand to save it.

"All right, we'll have to let all chapters involving Anaia wait, until we can get this stupid Characteriser fixed again. You guys have totally tired me out! If people are wondering why I'm so slow with writing, I'll tell them in future that it's all your fault! Either you don't have your lines, or you don't know your lines, or you don't follow your lines, or you're not you!" I glare at Anaia. "I want to get at least something done by the end of this week! So please try to co-operate!"

"Yes, Dee!" everyone choruses.

"Good. Now do what you like, you're off."

There is a banging of doors, some rushing in and some rushing out, everyone looking relieved that work is finally over and they no longer have to listen to me. I wish I could feel relieved – but I can't, because I have made absolutely no progress and my mind is heavy with all the things I still have to write but never manage to get written because of this hopeless lot.

Merina, still beside me, seems to have received a text message and is wearing a pretty content smile, her cheeks all the while growing redder and redder – she's never been good at hiding blushes. Must be a message from dear Theo. At the other end of the room, Lani is making faces at herself in the mirror.

"How about I write your story next?" I suggest quietly.

"Huh what?" Lani asks, speeding up to the desk (sharp hearing is one of many mistakes I made with elves in her story). "You're continuing ours? You are you are you are? Oh please do!"

"Oh please don't!" Merina says.

"If you do then make sure I get to catch them kissing once!" Lani exclaims.

Merina goes red but her voice at least yields to her control. "No thank you," she says, "Theo and I are pretty much just friends."

"Just friends? You two?" Lani smirks. "I know I have no evidence but still… you just suit each other so well! And you're so cute together even if you both pretend not to care."

"We're just friends," Merina repeats, glaring, then turns on her heel and flounces back through the T-Story door.

Lani stays, pouting. "Oh well. I'm sure she's just in a bad mood."

"When isn't she?" I sigh.

"But I know you will be very nice to me," Lani chatters, "and and give me all your notes and ideas on Theo and Merina. Right right right? Tell me, will they get married? How many children will they have? Can I give suggestions for naming them? Will –"

She's already reached out a curious finger towards my notebook. I quickly snatch it away. "Thank you for your offer, but I can't let you help me. Story characters are not to know what will happen in their futures; I'm no fortune teller. Anyway, I can already predict you charging money to tell others their futures. No thanks!"

"Everyone's against me," Lani huffs.

"Not nearly as many as are against me!" I exclaim, looking once more at the wreck of the Characteriser. "With this stupid thing broken, I'll have to do it the old-fashioned way and pick up people from the street, use them as they are. How many Anaias do you think I'll have then? That way practically all of them are out of character and don't adjust!"

"Isn't that how you got us though?" Lani asks. "We never had to have that Characteriser stuff, we were always just right."

"Oh were you?" I raise an eyebrow. "Lani, you started out being a nobody in the story. Then you simply took over and started to show your true colours past your lines. And now, whatever lines I intend for you, you throw them in the bin and come up with your own!"

"Well that's what I call originality," Lani says happily.

"That's what I call stealing the show."

"Ooh, I think I'll put that on my Unhelpful Hint for tomorrow. Doesn't that sound cool: Smart characters steal the show!" She grins.

"You're crazy. You're all just giving me a headache!"

"That's what characters are for," Lani sings.

"I used to want to be an artist. Why did I change my mind? Why?"

"Because the paint had a mind of its own and smudged into its own disastrous mess?" she suggests.

"Why does everything have a mind of its own?" I ask the heavens.

"Because life's unpredictable and this is Fantasy, baby," Lani answers, and giggles.

"You should stop quoting that soap opera of yours, you know; which one is it again, Princess Charming? No, wait, you should stop watching soap operas in general!"

"But the actors are so hot!" she sighs.

The room has emptied a bit by now; most of the characters are back in their rooms relaxing, except for a handful of elves from As yet Untitled (aka Nadina), practising some sort of dance. They've been doing that for years because the story has been stuck for years. Now that gives me an idea…

Too many things to write. Too little time. And absolutely no co-operation. I sincerely hope that this is only a 'today' thing. Maybe tomorrow they'll be a bit better behaved… maybe tomorrow they'll be a bit more co-operative… maybe…

Probably not.