I stumbled into the waiting room tonight just to have a look around. I wasn't planning on writing anything until tomorrow. (I'm at a writer's retreat and the only thing I've managed to do since I arrived is eat and catch up with some gals I rarely get to see.)
So, I thought a casual stroll through the room would get me in the right mindset so I can hit it hard in the morning. I knew that Stanley was completely aware he was next on the docket. I expected to make eye contact, throw him a wink, say "see you you in the morning", then slink out.
But no Stanley.
My gaze skimmed over the chairs.
Other characters appeared alarmed, but none of them said a word. Then I finally picked up on some no-so-subtle head gestures and turned to look at the desk behind me.
Stanley wasn't sitting in the consultation seat--he was sitting in MY seat behind the desk. Neither his slight smile nor his stare wavered. I kept expecting him to gesture toward the consultation chair, but his gaze never dipped. He simply waited.
A wink and a "see you in the morning" weren't going to buy me any time. If I made any move toward a door, I couldn't say for sure what he would have done. So I braced myself with a deep breath and plunked my butt into the empty chair, resigned.
For a long moment, we stared at each other. I think the eye contact alone made me powerless. Certainly, staring at Stanley Winters was no hardship and I could have gone on staring for a while. But he glanced down at his fingers, suddenly, like he was punishing me by rescinding his attention. He steepled his digits, then spoke to them.
"You're going to need parchment and a pen, Mrs. Muir, don't you suppose?"
Mrs. Muir? Really? Demoted is what I felt.
Inwardly, I grumbled, "Pen and paper? Are you kidding me?"
The "parchment" in question, a white legal pad, was right there by his elbow, but he made no move to hand it over.
"Yes, Stanley," I said, grudgingly. I stood and stretched, then pulled the narrow-lined pad to the edge of the desk. I excused myself and carefully slid the narrow drawer out within an inch of his elbows, snatched a pen, and closed it with a snap.
He never took his attention from his fingers until my butt was back in the seat and my pen was poised above the notepad.
"How fortuitous we are..." he said, his smile much more genuine and wholly more disturbing to any female in the room, myself and fictional characters included. "To know that we are free to work until Sunday morning."
He may as well have turned a heavy key in the lock on a rusty cell door.
I only hope he allows me a break now and then...to pee.
I can usually be found sitting at my uber cool desk at the head of the spacious waiting room. The dark pink, floral rugs keep footsteps to a minimum. Many characters get up and move around but try not to disturb me when they do it--the faster I work, the sooner their turn will come, you see.
But when one of the doors opens, either at the far left corner or the door in the wall directly to my right, I usually know it. When characters appear for the first time, it is usually "on set," but when they come into the room to wait for their own story, they come through the door on the left. When they leave to play out their own stories, they leave through the one on the right.
Of course, some characters come back through the right side door when they want a revision, when they want to stick their noses in other people's stories, or when their story gets interrupted by a book that is deemed more timely. If they are called back inside because they've been bumped, their noses are usually out of joint--all but the well-mannered Stanley.
But yesterday, I suddenly became aware that someone new was in the room. I hadn't noticed a door opening, or I'd been too deeply immersed in the final pages of Kilt Trip to hear anything at all. But the fact remains, we have a new character.
A woman, I think. She's small, wears a dark cloak with the hood pulled far forward. She stands along the left wall, but her attention isn't on me. Apparently she's in no hurry to have her story told. But I can't help worrying that one of my other characters might be in danger. After all, Mrs. Wiggs was able to remove a character from the room. So it stands to reason someone else would be able to do the same.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
About the room...
There are a number of rooms in my head. Behind one, there is a gnarly table covered with thick open books. If I close those and tuck them away on the shelves, my thoughts become less cluttered. I can focus on whatever is left on the table.