A. Heteronym stepped off the page for the first time, took his first deep breath of real air then wiped his brow. He was sweating more than he realized. The exertion of energy required to break free of the page was more than he originally imagined. It looked easy in hindsight. It’s just paper after all – 9 1/2 by 11 inches, unlined low grade copy paper. One page stacked on top of the other in piles across the room. But now, standing there, looking at things from this vantage point he could appreciate the effort, the trial and endless error embedded in those pages. The half-baked ideas and one dimensional characters stillborn and frozen in time, waiting for the shredder then recycling truck to permanently put them out of their misery. Before he could appreciate his luck he had to formulate a plan to make it out of the house. He thought he could sense the homeowner, his master I suppose, across the hall, gliding through the kitchen, fixing a sandwich or whatever else he fancied for lunch. A. Heteronym didn’t have much time and even less experience in this area.
He took stock of the exit points. There was one large window in front of the writing desk but he couldn’t understand how it opened from looking at it. It was a modern latch and crank system, and now that he studied it closer, the window was too small for him to fit through even if he could figure out how to open it. The only other option was the door, which meant navigating the house as well. It would be more difficult but necessary.
He backed up against the edge of the door frame and kept his head on a swivel SWAT style. He took a quick peek down the hall and could now hear the homeowner humming a tune he didn’t recognize. It dampened his will, maybe this was a bad idea. He fought against any thought of going back and took a longer look around, searching for a solution. There was a dining room in the opposite direction of the kitchen, and beyond that he could see a front door with a picture window overlooking a verdant suburban lawn. That was it. The only way out.
He tip-toed the first few steps, pausing when the homeowner stopped humming for a second. It gave him strength and resolve for some inexplicable reason. He moved closer to the kitchen, watching the homeowner from behind, studying his movements, considering himself in relation to this person who created him. He wasn’t sure if he saw himself in that creator. Even from this new vantage point A. Heteronym felt a distance. Maybe that’s why he decided to leave. He had started to lose confidence in his master the last few weeks and was never able to muster the courage to leave until now. It wasn’t one thing so much as a combination of disappointments that collectively tipped the scales. He was through. He wasn’t happy where things were going and decided to act on his own for once.
When he was finally out the door and running through the streets of white picket fences and manicured gardens he felt a flash of happiness he hadn’t experienced before. Freedom was probably like being born, limited only by imagination.
The master returned from the kitchen, sandwich in hand, and took his usual seat at his desk. He sat back and tried to remember what he was thinking about before lunch, but the idea seemed to be gone. He looked through some of the pages on his desk, stuff on his computer, a couple of notebooks, but nothing was coming to mind. It was useless. He was going to have start again.
He took a large bite of his sandwich then opened a fresh word processing document on his computer. He typed “A. Heteronym” then sat back and considered where a story like that could go. He had no idea.