This story was written for the Reedsy contest "You've Got a Friend in Me".
More specifically in the context of the prompt: "Write a story inspired by this quote from Ally Condie: 'Growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I'm glad for that.'"
I ring the bell. When no one answers, I let myself in.
Her place looks abandoned. The table hasn’t been cleared; the cup of coffee on the table isn’t empty; the coffee is still lukewarm. I walk into her kitchen; the dishes of the previous day haven’t been done. I inspect her bedroom; the bed hasn’t been made.
She must have left her apartment the moment I called her, telling her I wanted to talk about us and about our relationship. I enter the room she uses as her personal office. I notice that she didn’t even take her computer with her, yet something tells me she's gone for good. I know her better than she knows herself. She will not return.
I start up her computer and I enter the password I once gave her. I open her Inbox and find the email I am looking for: she has booked a one-way ticket to Barcelona right after my call.
“What are you doing here?” she asks when I accost her at the airport. “Did you follow me? How did you…”
She doesn’t finish her sentence. She knows how I know.
“Never mind,” she says before I can answer her first question. “It's over. I don't want to see or hear you again. Not ever. I’m done with it.”
She puts her boarding pass on the scanner and hurries through the entrance gate towards the security check. She doesn’t have any baggage; she travels light. She disappears without looking back at me. My heart breaks.
Why is she giving me the cold shoulder? I can't believe my heroine would ever let me down like this. We’ve been through so many adventures together. We’ve shared the good and the bad for so many years.
The shock seeing her flee away from me, leaves me struggling to make sense of the situation. She’s going away from me. If I let her go, she might be gone for good. I might never see her again!
I pull myself together.
“I am a writer,” I tell myself. “I have a talent for figuring out how to make things right.”
My greatest pleasure in writing fiction is discovering how my characters can solve a problem without making the story incredible. That’s what I should do now: I should use my imagination. I realize that my heroine must take a plane if she wants to fly to Spain, but that doesn’t apply to me. I can use the ways of the mind. All it takes to travel faster than her is a small dose of suspension of disbelief.
I’m waiting for her in the arrival hall of El Prat Airport when her plane lands. I have one more chance to convince her. I hope I don’t blow it. I need her!
She isn’t surprised when she sees me.
“You again,” she sighs. “I should have known you would follow me here.”
I hold on to her. I want to know: “What have I done to deserve this? Why don’t you want to talk to me anymore? We can work this out! I know there are still plenty of stories in store for us.”
“My Nemesis is dead,” she says. “We’ve finally beaten him after twelve heart-pounding confrontations in a row. Now it’s over. I’m tired. I quit and I want you to leave me alone.”
"Are you sure about that?" I beg her.
“I've never been more sure of anything,” she confirms.
I get on my knees in front of her, and I look her in the eyes: “I can bring your Nemesis back to life for a thirteenth episode, you know. Or I can create a new super-villain for you to fight. There’s no limit to evil in the minds of men. Whatever you ask for, I can make it happen. You can even come up with your own lines. You’re the A-list actress in my life.”
“True as that may be, I can no longer bring up the energy to continue saving the world. I’m sorry.”
I see that she means what she says. She has made up her mind and there’s nothing I can do about it.
When I don’t say anything for lack of words to express my feelings, she comforts me: “We’d only repeat ourselves if we went on doing what we’ve been doing the last decade. In the end, you might even have to kill me to impress our audience. I know you don’t want to let it come to that. We’ve been over this before. It's time for you to start looking for another main character.”
In an ultimate attempt to convince her to reconsider, I say: “What if we tried one more time? Just one more time!”
“You know that’s impossible,” she says. “You are an omniscient narrator. You shouldn't be part of this story at all. You're in the wrong perspective.”
She’s right. I don't belong in an auctorial story.
Being the author of her life, I know that my protagonist is weary. She said so herself many times in her last adventure.
I hate to let her go, but I must. It’s time for our ways to part.
“I understand,” I finally say. “I guess I wasn't ready to admit it to myself.”
“We've been through a lot together, you and me,” she smiles. “I'm grateful for the success you brought me, but it has been enough. I want it to stop here.”
“I want to thank you for the success you brought me as a writer,” I say. “It was a beautiful experience working with you.”
“It was indeed beautiful,” she agrees. “Remember that growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”
"Goodbye, my dear heroine," I say with a lump in my throat. "I'm glad we could say goodbye this way."
“Goodbye, writer of mine.”
My favorite heroine dissolves into thin air before my eyes and the next moment I am back at my writing desk. I reach for my phone and key in my publisher's number.
“What would you think if I started a new adventure series with a new heroine?” I ask him.
“I thought you’d never ask," he replies. “I think it's an excellent idea!”
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