Would the Real Maxine Miller Please Wake Up?
Around the age of fifteen, Maxine Miller had taken a long hard look around her and said, “Nope, not for me.” The entitled private school girl with the perfectly pressed uniform and a liking for colorful hair bands began to carry herself from that time forward like some imagined liquid tub of gold. In the process she became remarkably good at fantasizing.
The arid world of grammar lessons and Algebra II were like being on a planet with very little gravity for young Maxine. The endless classroom days stretched before her like a prairie road into a horizon she couldn’t be bothered to walk. Her thoughts would drift and soar amongst the clouds even as the school bell sounded around her. Maxine Miller was the daydreamer who never got her work done but wasn’t lit or Gucci enough, as the cool kids said, for that to be seen as a positive trait.
But come the night, the drabness of her days would be burned away and the carousel of her deliberately fantasizing thoughts brought to a halting stop by the oblivion of sleep. In a house she shared with parents who were always on the phone, night’s rest was when her subconscious would go into swirling, beautiful freefall and create her imagination’s true magnum opus.
At these times freckle-faced Maxine Miller, she of the tight smile and blue-rimmed glasses, would transform into adored best-selling author Caprice Crawford. The dream, repeated night after night, was always the same. A woman from the publishing company appeared and would announce that Ms Crawford, whose reputation positively rippled around the world as one of the genuine superstars of the modern literati, was finally about to make an appearance. The orchestra would start to play and on cue all conversation amongst the champagne-sipping guests ceased. All eyes would be directed towards the top of the stairs. Stunning and uber intelligent, Caprice Crawford, with her delicate chin and piercing eyes of green, would begin her slow and graceful descent, sliding her left white-gloved hand along the dark, lacquered staircase banister as she went.
The star-struck crowd knows that soon she will be among them and that maybe this literary god made flesh might have coffee and cake and talk with them. Some of the assembled make a mental note to try to say something meaningful that would make captivating Caprice notice them and think they are interesting. “What does it matter if she doesn’t remember our name a minute later?” a few ask themselves rhetorically. “Perhaps some part of us will remain in her mind? Perhaps even some piece of ourselves will find its way into her next book?” Oh the joy! Oh the splendor! Oh the anticipation!
And oh the heartache when pigtails and braces fifteen year old Maxine Miller awakens the next morning only to have to confront the stark reality that Caprice Crawford is not real and is most certainly not her. The gateway between Maxine’s worlds of fantasy and reality has been abruptly sealed shut. The door was locked. To that otherworldly realm, it always had been, and, unbeknownst to her now and for reasons too involved to untangle, always would be.
Somehow sensing this, Maxine does what she did most mornings when emerging from the twilight of the dream half-remembered. She laughed. Heartily. Musically. And in spite of herself. It was like yoga for her overworked, let-down synapses; a handy sanity-saving act of clear thinking. She had done it many times before. It felt familiar. Restoring balance quickly was her survival mechanism kicking in. It was very Maxine. It was not at all like the over-successful, puffed up la-de-da Caprice Crawford Maxine had invented. And the true beauty and magically helpful insight of that was something the awkward teenage would grow to love and appreciate in the fullness of time.
Glen Donaldson wishes people had a brightness setting and longs to elevate small talk to medium talk.
He has had work published by Jotters United, Positive Words Magazine, GhostStory.com, Tiny Owl Publishing, 101 Fiction, Tokyo Voice Column, Ipswich Life Magazine, Australian Writers Center, Lend Me Your Literacy, Into the Void Magazine, Fictuary, Octavius Magazine, Ether Books, The Binnacle, DesiWriters, The Flash Fiction Press,Cadillac Cicatrix, 81 Words, Wattpad and QWeekend magazine.
He is forthcoming in The Bombay Review and Horror After Dark.