ME: Are you there?

FENN: Who, me?

ME: You!

FENN: Of course I’m here! I’m never not here. I’m the herest of all.

ME: Hello <3 :) <3

FENN: Atz:a! Been a while since we’ve had an imaginary yet fulfilling conversation.

ME: Yeah, sorry. I’ve been busy making pigeon videos and stuff.

FENN: Fantastic! What’s a “pigeon video”?

ME: Well, it’s…you know how…it’s like if you think…never mind. I’m bad at explaining stuff at the best of times, and you’re missing too many concepts!

FENN: Are the skies blue in your world right now? You tend to find me when you’re upset. Not that I’m complaining, mind—I thoroughly enjoy existing, even for brief periods of time that are full of crying.

Not existing is surprisingly boring!

ME: The skies aren’t exactly blue.

FENN: Well now! What colour are they?

ME: I don’t mean to sound ominous—I’m not planning to die anytime soon—but I’ve been thinking: when I’m about to die and my life flashes before my eyes, I wonder if I’ll see you and your memories among my own. That’s a weird idea, isn’t it?

FENN: Is this your way of saying you love me more than Vix?

ME: Well…

FENN: Of course you do—I’m a delight. Now, about this not-blue sky…

ME: It’s more of a stinging red.

FENN: A stinging red?

ME: It’s a hurting sky.

FENN: No, no—we’re not having that.

ME: I don’t mean to be a burden or anything. It’s just that I’m feeling really awful, haha.

FENN: Feeling really awful? That sounds bad.

ME: I don’t know what to do. It’s 3AM. I don’t want to hassle anyone. I can’t leave the place at the best of times because of the apocalypse. I’ve barely been outside in months. As soon as I think things are good, they go bad again and it takes ages to recover. And then it’s good again but it’s not good for long enough for me to make solid progress on anything. I just don’t want to keep going up and down and up and down and up and down like this.

FENN: Isn’t it better to be up and down than down and down?

ME: I guess. But it means I can’t actually figure out if my life is improving. I feel good when I’m up and bad when I’m down, but what’s the overall trajectory? How can I feel so ecstatic and then so terrible in such a short amount of time? Over and over? I don’t know how I even enjoy the uptime when I know the downtime is coming.

I do enjoy it though, haha. Sometimes I feel like a maniac!

FENN: Look now, we both get over-the-top excited easily, and that’s fun. Right?

ME: So fun.

FENN: But what shoots up has an annoying tendency to crash down. The problem mightn’t be going up and down too fast, but going sooooo faaaaaaaar uuuuuup in the first place. It’s a long way to fall, yes?

ME: But the view is nice.

FENN: I’m just putting it straight: better to tumble from the first storey than the tenth!

ME: But you’re always going up, uP, UP!

FENN: True, but I’m also not real. Real folk have to be more realistic—surprise! You might need to catch yourself zooming up and give the reins a good ol’ tug. Step back from the manic excitement and get to thinking, “Maybe I don’t need to go any higher today.” Make sense?

ME: You sound suspiciously like my therapist.

FENN: I’m whatever, whenever, wherever!

ME: I so much wanted to be like you. Why didn’t I turn out like you?

FENN: Well now! Don’t batter yourself. It’s not easy to be like someone who doesn’t exist—I fulfil some impossible standard in that perfectionist head of yours, no doubt. Anyway, d’you remember how different I used to be?

ME: Yeah, you’ve changed a lot! But the way you are now…I don’t know. I think of you like a mentor. Because you’re similar enough to me—and empathetic enough in general—to be understanding and patient, but you also have traits that would push me in a better direction if I could only access them. You’re pretty much everything I want to be—aside from the fact that you’re a disgusting, filthy extrovert.

FENN: Disgusting and filthy? With pleasure! Not sure what an “extrovert” is, but it sounds like the kind of thing I’d be.

ME: It’s someone who is so insane that they love to constantly be around other people WAAAAY too much and they’re insane.

FENN: And that’s a bad thing? Far as I see it, the endless black void that is my own solitude isn’t going to laugh at my jokes or insult me in ways that I find strangely enjoyable.

ME: With a bit of imagination, it just might ;)

FENN: Is this why it’s so hard to get to finishing anything?

ME: You still get a lot done. You can’t help making things happen.

FENN: You’ve got to making more “things” happen in the last five days than I could hope to tackle in five cycles! Why’d you want to turn out like me when you could turn out like you? All I’ve got to doing since we last spoke is eat too many pies and make Vix want to strangle me.

ME: But Vix loves wanting to strangle you! That’s his medicine.

FENN: Point is: you get a lot done, while I drink and talk and drink and talk and drink and talk and watch all my brilliant ideas flitterflutter out the window for good—no “goodbyes” or nothing. At this point, I’m really just a decoration.

ME: Pretty loud decoration.

FENN: Pretty decoration? Thanks!

ME: With selective hearing.

FENN: What?

ME: You’re my medicine too—or one of them, anyway. You’re the best!

FENN: If I’m the best and you created me, doesn’t that get to making you the best?

ME: My brain can’t figure out if that’s logical right now. But I know I’m not the best. The best at being the worst, maybe. HAH!

FENN: HAH! So funny. YOU’RE THE BEST, DANE!

ME: You always try to lift everyone up. You’re full of sunshine, and I do know what that’s like. I’m full of sunshine one day and gooey black sludge the next. I can’t be what you are to me for other people because I’m not well enough. I can’t be consistent because my life isn’t consistent. It’s a mess. I can give everything one day and nothing the next. That’s not helpful to people.

FENN: How d’you figure that?

ME: I know it’s not helpful.

FENN: I don’t think you do know. I think you think you know.

ME: The overarching feeling is that I’m more trouble than I’m worth. It’s not enough to be all sunshine half the time if the rest is gooey black slime that you can’t wash off your fingers.

FENN: There’s nothing wrong with getting some gooey black slime on your fingers from time to time, and there’s nothing wrong with being filled with gooey black slime from time to time. Vix is practically oozing the gooiest of black slimes out his ears and we both know he’s worth triple me!

ME: I don’t know about triple.

FENN: Anyway, the point of the point of the point being: you don’t need to keep all that black slime to yourself. I’m perfectly happy to help Vix.

ME: Yeah, but he’s just the best and so cool. I’m not like that.

FENN: Why’s that?

ME: Because I’m real. If I lose the plot, it’s real and it affects real people. When Vix goes off the deep end he’s just an interesting character who makes me feel slightly better about being nuts because I like him so much. And he still manages to do so much with his life!

FENN: His non-existent life. Because he’s not real.

ME: Besides, he has you to help him out!

FENN: You’ve also got me to help you out.

ME: Not really.

FENN: Please, I’m an estravote! I have enough time for you, Vix, and the whole Galuvarian Choir—and their grandmothers.

ME: You do have a strange affinity with grandmothers.

FENN: They’re so old and nice!

ME: It’s because they go on and on about how helpful you are, isn’t it?

FENN: Well now, it’s not not because of that. It’s also not not because they’re always carrying the lollies I love in their little Boraladilian silk purses. It’s an old and delicious custom that I’m quite happy to take advantage of. See now? I’m quite selfish under this sweetshop exterior.

ME: How come you don’t just go and buy the lollies?

FENN: I prefer having them bestowed upon me by a grown-up who smells like soap.

ME: I didn’t realise you were twelve!

FENN: I’m only twelve mentally! The rest of me is…how old am I again?

ME: Right now? As we’re talking?

FENN: Ideally.

ME: About four-and-thirty, I think? I’m not sure. You’ve been so many ages! Old enough to be older enough than me to be my mentor.

FENN: Sometimes I go backwards in age, which is fine by me. Can’t believe how annoying I was when I was twenty though.

ME: You were fuuuuuun :)

FENN: I’m still fun! How dare you.

ME: Of course you are! You’ll be fun when you’re dead—that’s how fun you are. You’ll be fun forever.

FENN: Fun and strangleable—my defining features. And hungry.

ME: I’ve had no appetite lately.

FENN: You need to try these lollies. They taste best fresh out of the silky purse, but they’re always a tongueslap.

ME: Even if your favourite lollies existed here, I’m not like you. I’m not going to go out and talk to every Kel, Senn, and Rez within earshot. If I could live like a ghost in a movie—able to see everyone but only be perceived if and when I’m ready—I would.

FENN: What’s a movie?

ME: It’s a thing I’m not gonna explain.

FENN: Well, I think being a ghost sounds dreadful. I couldn’t stand to see everyone but not have them see me. I think I’d cry!

ME: That’s because you’re a recovering attention whore—in the nicest way possible :):):)

FENN: Can’t argue that, but I don’t need attention from everyone. Vix is hard to impress and selective, so his attention is the triple-distilled stuff with a fancy label. Satisfying, but you can hardly expect to have it constantly. Eccentric old widows are great because they’re always dying to give me strange advice. There’s one elder who loves getting down the river and pelting stale buns at the wildlife like she’s trying to catch a meal. I can’t get to understanding why she thinks that’s the best way to feed them, but she has a seemingly endless supply of rock-hard baked goods. She only wears purple and every time I ask her why, she says something irresistibly cryptic like, “If I didn’t wear purple, I would die purple.” Followed by: “You really should get to wearing more green, lad!”

ME: Well, she has a point!

FENN: I wore a green coat the next time I got down to the river and she gave me five of her disgusting fluff-covered delicious silky purse-lollies. Five!

ME: Meanwhile I won’t go outside in case the neighbour is also going outside.

FENN: I can barely get my head around being afraid to go outside. But I have seen Vix lock himself in his room for so long I got to worrying he was dead. He was furious when I kicked the door down. But in my defence: you really should answer if someone yells, “Are you dead?” more than ten times.

ME: In his defence, he was probably passed out.

FENN: Hardly an excuse!

ME: It’s better to leave him alone when he’s like that.

FENN: I don’t believe that for a tick.

ME: Well, I want to be left alone sometimes. But I’m an aspiring ghost.

FENN: And yet here you are talking to me.

ME: Hah. Well, you’re different. You can help me any time of the day or night, potentially in an instant, and without anyone else losing sleep or getting stressed. My problems are so frequent, I need someone like you. I basically need a second voice in my head.

FENN: So, you feel better since we’ve been talking?

ME: I feel so much better! It’s unbelievable. Still, you can only help me if you get to the front of my mind in time—that’s easier said than done! Do you know how many nasty black worms are wriggling around in there? When my mind gets clogged and tangled up with mounds of nasty slime-wrigglers, I don’t even remember I can call on you. I don’t remember anything. It’s like they chew up all the thoughts I need most.

FENN: Well, maybe if you get to keeping me closer to the front of your mind more often, it’ll be easier finding me through all the slime-wrigglers. Another story, perhaps? :)

ME: Maybe. I’m writing something new at the moment. Very slowly. My favourite character is pretty different from you!

FENN: Bastard.

ME: Who said he’s a he?

FENN: Tell THEM I said hello :):):)

ME: I can’t. You’re the only one I ever talk to like a weirdo :):):)

FENN: So you can’t talk to your other characters?

ME: Well, I might be able to. I don’t really try to. I usually just let them do their thing.

FENN: Hah! I’m the best, after all.

ME: But I do miss actually writing you! The thing is I start seeing a new story unfold for you, but then I think, “Should I really go there again? Shouldn’t I try something different?” It’s like: you’re in the comfort zone, and everyone always tells you to go outside your comfort zone.

FENN: No bother—I understand. The comfort zone is a fine place for me. At least I can talk and drink and talk and drink here.

ME: But I am sorry you haven’t existed more in recent years. I guess I felt like I shouldn’t hang on to you forever—that I should write new characters in new worlds and do other things that aren’t even writing. But if you can really help me then why shouldn’t I let you? The voice in my head has nothing helpful or reassuring to say a lot of the time, but you do. Do you think you could actually be a second voice in my head? Like, all the time? If needed?

FENN: Is this some kind of bizarre job opportunity?

ME: Huh. Maybe it is!

FENN: Well, as seemingly the only suitable candidate: I accept!

ME: Wow. Yay!

FENN: You can write new characters in new worlds and make all the “pigeon videos” you want—that doesn’t mean I can’t be around if you need me. Like I said, I’m the herest of all. Herest and dearest!

ME: You really think?

FENN: I’ve never really thought anything more—I just don’t want you to get to thinking you can’t cope without me.

ME: That’s exactly the sort of thing I’d get to thinking.

FENN: Remember: I wouldn’t exist without you, which means all the things you love about me came from somewhere inside you in the first place. If it’s easier to find them through me, get to it! If it’s easier to find them by yourself, get to that. Sound good?

ME: Maybe you’re right.

FENN: Of course I’m right! I’m almost never not right. Right?

ME: I feel so much better.

FENN: Are you tired?

ME: A bit.

FENN: Good! I want to show you what Vix and I have been working on—it’ll blow your brains out of your head and into a thousand uncharted dreamworlds filled with a million new characters, exploding all the slime-wrigglers in the process.

ME: Thanks, Fenn. I love you SO MUCH!

FENN: What is it you say? Dildo?

ME: LOL.

FENN: Dingo?

ME: Ditto.

FENN: Ditto. Ditto.

ME: Just one more thing.

FENN: By all means.

ME: What kind of attention is my attention?

FENN: Your attention? Your attention is the air I breathe!

ME: No fancy label?

FENN: No fancy label, but I’d die without it. Quite literally, hahaha.

ME: Hahaha! Thanks, Fenn. See you soon.

FENN: Atz:a!

The End