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Title: The Greatest FanStory Ever Told
Author: jsblume
Style/Genre Prose / Fiction / - Not Classified
Description: The birth, life, death, and resurrection of a story.
Notes: Based on a contest prompt from the FanStory website.

I jumped, startled by the sudden bright light. There were mixed reactions from the others curled up next to me on the bed. Roxy, my boxer, jumped off the bed and turned to grin back at me, her tail wagging frantically. She clearly thought it was time for a walk. Charlie just stared at me in that way cats do when you just know they’re thinking about how much more superior they are. Tabby cat hissed and ran off. The weight of Frank, my mutt, told me that he was still in dreamland.

"What the--" I said, covering my eyes.

"You must have been having some dream." That sounded like Betty, one of my housemates.

"For sure, man." That would be Donavon.

My vision was slowly returning; I could barely make out all three of my housemates standing at the door in the fuzzy glow of the ceiling light burning brightly from the hall behind them.

"Oh, my God!" I said.

"Mm-hmm," Betty said. "What now?"

"I had the strangest dream. And I’ve got the greatest idea for a story!"

I yanked my leg out from underneath Frank, rolled off the bed, and got onto unsteady feet. Roxy could barely contain herself, her butt wiggled as she alternated between almost sitting and almost standing.

"The birth of a notion," Betty said.

"For sure," Donovan agreed.

"Be nice, now," Mary said. "You have to admit, some of his stories are truly visionary."

"Mm-hmm. Too bad his visions manifest in such obnoxious ways." Betty turned back down the hallway. Donavon shuffled along behind her, nodding agreeably.

"Don’t listen to her," Mary whispered. "She’s just jealous."

I pulled my shoes on and practically ran around the block with Roxy. It was cold out, and I wished I’d put on a jacket, but that’s not why I ran. Story ideas tussled my brain like the wind tussling my hair. And nipped at my ankles. I should have put on some socks, too.

I locked myself in the den as soon as I returned. My fingers and the hours flew. It was almost like osmosis – my thoughts were the flow of molecules through the tips of my permeable fingertips, tapping out the story. I emerged triumphant with a printed copy of my new short story in my hand. I stumbled into the kitchen to find Betty, Donovan, Mary, more than half a dozen others, setting the table.

"Did you forget about our dinner party?" Mary asked.

"Uh, yeah, I guess I did."

"Mm," Betty said. "He’d forget his head."

"Is that your story?" Mary asked.

"Oh. Yes!" I smiled. "It is."

"How about you get cleaned up--"

"He smells like a barn or a manger or something," Betty said, rubbing her nose.

"--and make copies for everyone while we finish here?" Mary said.

"Yeah. Okay. I’ll do that."

Dinner and conversation were interminable. Finally, the plates were cleared, dessert and coffee were brought out, and Mary, who sat to my right, announced,

"Our resident writer has a new story to share."

Eagerly, I passed out the copies, and then sat biting my nails as everyone read. Some were mumbling, some were nodding, and some were shaking their heads.

"Someone’s going to hate it, I just know it," I said. Someone was going to betray me as the fraud I really am.

The comments that flowed around the table were generally good, much to my relief. At least, until Judy spoke up.

"You know that I am totally devoted to your work," she said in that nasally, Valley girl voice of hers. "But I’m just a teensy bit," she squinted and held her thumb and forefinger close together, "confused."

"Um." I gulped. "Sure, go ahead."

"Well, I get why your protagonist saved all the outcasts, but I really don’t see why he had to sacrifice himself to do it. I mean, couldn’t he have found another way? The circumstances don’t justify it."

My face fell. Now that she had mentioned it, I saw that she was right. I hadn’t thought through the circumstances deeply enough. Just like everything else I wrote – all flash and no depth. I just didn’t seem to have the knack for it. I collected the copies from the group and stacked them carefully.

"It’s still a great story!" Mary said.

"Yeah" "Sure" "Great" "I liked it" Positive comments flowed around the table, but I didn’t hear them. I couldn’t get failure out of my head.

"Thanks, everyone."

I smiled, picked up the stack of paper, and wandered into the living room. Someone had lit a fire earlier; we usually came out here after dinner for drinks and to watch the flames. I slumped onto the hearth. One by one, I tossed the pages in. The flames danced to the laughter coming from the kitchen. They would be heading this way soon. I didn’t want to be here.

When the last page had burnt to a crisp, I moped off to my bedroom. Despair had me in a death grip. My room was as dark and cold and still as a tomb – all sight and sound and motion swallowed up by my gloom. Why did I always let one little comment throw me like this? What was the matter with me?

As I lay on my bed in a deep funk, covered from head to toe, a glimmer of inspiration struck. That’s an idea! I thought gleefully. That should satisfy the old bat.

I could hear the group talking as I tiptoed from my bedroom to the den. I fired up the computer and began the task of editing my story, working by the light of the monitor. The story took on a life of its own as I hammered away at the keys, oblivious to time.

"Hello, are you in there?"

I looked up to see Mary tapping on my bedroom door across the hall.

"Drag his self out here, if you have to," Betty called from the living room. "He is done with his stupid moping."

I watched Mary open the door and peek in. "He’s not in here!"

After adding the final flourish to my story, I sent it to the printer. At the sound of paper feeding through, Mary turned and saw the light of my monitor through the den doorway. "There you are! What are you up to?"

She turned on the light, took the first copy of the story from the printer, and began reading.

"Unbelievable! I have to show this to the others."

The group was polite as Mary handed out the copies.

"Where’s Judy?" I asked. I had hoped to see the look on her face when she read my masterpiece.

"That traitor left half an hour ago," Betty said. Imitating Judy’s nasally voice, "’I have to work in the morning’."

Murmurs of skepticism passed around the room. "Incredible" "You actually wrote this?"

"Of course I wrote it. Why do you not believe me?"

"It’s easily the best thing you’ve ever written," Betty said. "Of course we’re going to be skeptical."

"You need to share this story with others," Mary said.

"I will," I said, and marched to the den to upload it to the FanStory website.

Copyright @2015 by jsblume. All rights reserved.
jsblume has granted JS Blume Publishing™ non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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