Challenge #01950-E126: What is Life and What is RealsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  last year 


They are quite real to us these lines coloured in sometimes, they've been with us since we first met them, and they seem 'real'. Comics, graphic novels, the funny pages. -- Knitnan

They were just shapes on a page. They should very clearly not be so impactful. They were the written word. They were pictorial representations of impossible things. They were imagination. They weren't real. And yet...

There he was. Hiding away from the world because these particular shapes on a page had reached a spot that regular, everyday people could not make an impact on. These unreal things, these abstractions of reality, had hit his hidden heart. They had found the chink in his armour and now he was weeping from an entirely fabricated pain.

He tried to choke it down. Squash it. Tell himself over and over again that it wasn't real. It was a series of abstractions. Symbols that had no meaning but that which was assigned to it. That he could close the pages and freeze the action his brain had supplied. And all his efforts failed.

His pie and coffee had arrived, and the waitress was sitting opposite. "You going to be okay?"

Jon wiped his face and tried to keep a stiff lip. Cleared his throat. Twice. "It- it's stupid," he said, getting his facts straight right off the bat. "There's this... comic..." he showed her the app on his iPad. The page where he'd had to stop reading because he couldn't focus any more.

He expected to be berated. A grown man reading comics. A serious businessman in a serious suit shouldn't be reading comics. And he really shouldn't be crying about the contents.

What he got was, "Oh my God, you read it too?" And then an enthusiastic smile from his waitress. "I couldn't keep away from the latest issue, this morning, I read it on my phone in the train. Bawled like a baby, three other women thought I was dumped..." she touched her eyes with a paper napkin. "I won't spoil the rest of this issue for you, but... have faith. Okay. It gets better."

The coffee and pie fortified him enough to continue on for the remaining five pages. And the waitress Dewdrop had been right. There was hope in the last couple of pages. And a definite cliffhanger hint in the last two panels.

On the spur of the moment, he left her a fifty-dollar tip and his personal email in case she wanted to geek out with him. And he was certain he spotted a few red-eyed fellow fans in and around his offices. Not that anyone who worked for a prestigious law firm like Hangum, Sichem, and Mawl could ever admit out loud that they ever did such a thing as cry over a digital comic book.

Just shapes on a page. Just symbols, strung together with meaning. Just imagination.

And by crikey, they were powerful.

Because people like Jon let them in. Allowed them to become, for a moment, just the slightest bit real. Because the brain didn't easily differentiate between fact and fiction when it came to emotional responses. Because real people with real hearts and minds could relate entirely to something that was, ultimately, merely pretend.

...some people are so good at pretend that it makes real things happen.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Things]

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