I imagine him sitting across from me in a dimly lit room. Perhaps we are at a table in a local café where the patrons accept one of his kind without the raised brow and whispered sneer of social snobbery. I sip my latte while he watches, the glow from his blue eyes a glimmer of slightly bored amusement.
“Tell me how you feel the story is progressing,” I prompt, picking a chocolate biscuit off a plate and taking a nibble. “We’ve gotten quite a bit past that momentous tea scene now.” (for more on that see An Interview Of A Different Kind )
He watches the movement and remains silent, wisps of steam gently curling from the crested piping on his helmet. I see that as a sign of displeasure. Of course, it is rude of me to eat in front of him, knowing that his lack of a digestive system means he cannot do the same. Out of respect, I put the biscuit back but the curls of steam continue.
“You have hurt Lady Anne,” he accuses, his voice a mixture of rich echoes as it reverberates inside his metal body. “And given me no choice but to do the same.”
“All is fair in love, war and story writing.” I say with a smile. “I’m glad you’ve fallen in love with her. She needs a man like you.”
“I am not a true man.”
“Because you’re stuck in a metal suit? I think Lady Anne sees you quite differently. Especially after you engaged with her in la fete noir. She gave herself to you quite selflessly.”
“It was a mistake. A decision made in the heat of battle. It will not happen again.”
“Do you really think so?” I cannot help laughing. “She has a say in the matter too, you know, and I believe she quite enjoyed the moment. As did you.”
He stares at me, steam hissing from his piping. “Give me my old body back.”
“Do you think it will make a difference to how she feels about you if you have a flesh and blood body instead of this metal one?”
“It makes a difference to me!”
He leans forward, gripping the table so hard the edge snaps beneath his steel fingers. Steam swirls around us in a hot mist which quickly cools as it settles on my skin. I abandon my drink, pushing the cup aside to face him squarely.
“I like you, Leo. You have a wonderful, strong soul. I see why Anne is drawn to you, despite your self-loathing problem. But you have a lot of growing to do before you deserve your happy ending. Show me that you know what it means to be a true hero, and I will consider giving you your old body back. Until then, I suggest you enjoy the adventure and take out your frustration on that nasty dreadnought.”
I imagine the scent of brimstone is heavy in the air as he angrily stands up and storms from the coffee shop, crested helmet hissing steam and red cape snapping behind him.
He’s a troubled soul, Leonidas. So dark and brooding and fun to write. I have every confidence that he will redeem himself in the course of the story. But I think as a writer I can’t make it easy. Life isn’t easy. Neither is writing a book. Each chapter is an adventure, a new lesson learned. And just like Leo, I must be patient, accept my literary shortcomings and learn from them before I can write, ‘the end’.
What about you? Are there books you’ve written or read where you feel you've learned something about yourself by the time you've reached the end of the story?
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