A Conversation with Nocte

Pansies: Thoughtful

Self-Reflection: An Author and Her Protagonist*

Zhen Xue Qing: Hi.

Nocte Yin: Hi.

ZXQ: How are you?

NY: Good. You?

ZXQ: Overwhelmed. Between my new job and my freelancing projects, I hardly have time to just sit and think. It also terrifies me that I’m in a one-year contract with only a small chance of full employment by the end – a full-time permanent position that doesn’t include a pension, but health insurance sounds like the Holy Grail.

NY: That’s absolutely awful and is a reflection of your modern society, as well as the precursor to what life will be like for your generation and the generations to come.

ZXQ: Yes, exactly! How did you know?

NY: Your thoughts and comprehension of the world are the same as mine. I am your creation, remember?

ZXQ: Oh…right. Sometimes I forget. You lead the story more often than I do. Oftentimes, I feel as though you are more real to others than to me.

NY: You are the intention. I am the action.

ZXQ: I suppose that’s how it is. You must despise me for all the “intentions” I put you through.

NY: All the events, scenarios and feelings I’ve endured are in direct correlation to the events, scenarios and feelings you were enduring at the time.

ZXQ: Only magnified.

NY: Yes.

ZXQ: How can you still be so composed? After so many years? You’ve lost so much – more than I ever could – and now you’re stuck in a perpetual vortex of angst and physical abuse until I feel “inspired” to write again. Doesn’t that frustrate you?

NY: Not as much as it frustrates you. You are the one writhing over the details and the miniscule – the whats, hows and whys. I am only your avatar. No matter how arduous, how tiring or how bloody, the difference between my mental health and yours is that we both know how my story ends. We don’t know how you’ll end up – we don’t know the whats, hows and whys. We only know death.

ZXQ: Which is why I created you, the people you love and the world you live in. You are the better version of me – stronger, funnier, smarter – more loud and more forgivable, more flawed but flawless to others. This is why we never have conversations – you and I are the same.

NY: And the people I love are the people you wish you had. The world I live in is the world you wish you could manipulate in your reality.

ZXQ: Control is important to me.

NY: And I control my world. I can bend rules, make mistakes – kill, and be forgiven. You are constrained to the rules of your society.

ZXQ: I am not born into nobility, have no fortune, no fame, no powers – nothing. I am ordinary.

NY: Yet extraordinary because you have created something real for people.

ZXQ: That’s my inflated ego speaking.

NY: Yes, it is, but that is how normal people keep on living – to be the protagonist in their story and hope to be special in some way.

ZXQ: But not you. You could never live my life: commuting to and from work, cooking in bulk to cover both lunch and dinner for efficiency sake, fearing that you’d grow old alone, fearing that your manager would let you go one day for budget reasons, wondering how you could support your parents once they retire, how you could possibly afford a home in this economy, spend the majority of your week at work and only living your real self during the weekend, watching others get ahead even if you don’t know if “ahead” will ever be enough – wishing for security.

You could never live my life.

NY: Of course not. We’ve tried ordinary, remember? It didn’t work out. That’s why you made me extraordinary.

That’s why you made me.

*My cousin often asks me if I ever talk to my characters. Truth be told, I don’t because they’re characters and parts of me, so I know what they’ll say and how they think. They are me.

Pansy | Thoughtful

甄雪清

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