Let’s call her Lucy. Our creator, or “writer,” as she calls herself.
She calls me Paul, although clearly, I’m Paolo.
Paul meets Sasha at the café, Lucy writes, but there’s no dialogue yet, so we speak freely. Sasha (whose real name, unbeknownst to Lucy, is Chance) orders a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino. I, in an effort to stay fit, get a green juice.
“What about him?” Chance lifts his chin toward the barista.
“The beard,” I say sternly.
“It’s a little unkempt,” he admits.
“And orange,” I sniff.
“But he’s nice,” Chance says. “Did you hear him with that woman in front of us? He told her to have a beautiful day.”
“Who says that? Crazy people, that’s who,” I answer, thumping my glass on the table.
Poor Chance/Sasha. I give them such a hard time. I never tell them how sweet it is that they keep trying find someone for me when Lucy has written us (Sasha and Paul) as happily married.
Chance and I don’t have to sleep together (Lucy has yet to address Sasha and Paul’s nighttime activities), but sometimes we curl up like two kittens in a basket, and Chance drools on my pillow. Lucy writes that Sasha dreams about her boss and murmurs his name in her sleep. I guess Chance has a thing for Sasha’s boss, too. Philip, Chance sometimes calls in the night. I smile and drop a kiss on his forehead.
Lucy hasn’t written a word about my dreams so they’re all mine: the sculpted hair, the antique green Porsche.
Kintaro. Will I ever meet him?
He, too, is one of old Lucy’s creations and appears here and there in her stories, but she’s never really known what to do with him. (At least she got the name right.) Once, she almost put us on the same page. An idea came to her while she was driving: Paul and Sasha go to the symphony where Kintaro plays trumpet. But she never wrote it down, so it didn’t happen.
Chance (as Sasha) has met Kintaro. Sasha says he’s half-Japanese and has a father (white) who pretends he’s an admiral in the Danish navy although, in fact, he’s a plumber in Salem, Oregon. Semi-retired.
Thank God Lucy has never written parents for me, though she’s given me a younger sister, Jan. We sometimes meet (off the page) for coffee or a movie. One time Jan and I went ice skating. She was quiet as usual (Lucy wrote her that way)—but this seemed different. Like Jan had something to say to me, only Lucy hadn’t told her what it was. Knowing there was no point in trying to draw her out, I made her laugh by pointing out some guy who’d fallen (uninjured) in the middle of the rink and couldn’t figure out how to get back up again.
“We should help,” Jan said.
“In a minute,” I agreed.
I’ve told Jan all about Kintaro and how I tried to find him one night. How I wanted to look nice, but my closet is full of bland husband clothes. I didn’t even know Kintaro’s address. It might be on a fictional street, but since I’m fictional, I figured I might randomly run into him somewhere. Anyway, Sasha said he sometimes played trumpet at a hotel ballroom that was built on a man-made island that smells of flowers, salt and sand. I walked around the city all night, but I never found the island.
What would happen if Kintaro and I met? Lucy can’t see who we are, but I won’t let that stop me. After all, here I am once again, pausing in the rain under a blooming plum tree, listening for Kintaro’s trumpet. We’ll meet somewhere outside of the official story. My imagination is just as lavish as Lucy’s. And we have all the time in the world.