Bio:
Will Ross is a writer/poet from Omaha, Nebraska.




"I don't understand why you're so afraid of loving me, Daniel," Samantha said as we walked through the used book store together. She always wanted to hold hands in public, which made me feel a little silly. But the back of the store was nearly empty so I humored her. Her fingers laced with mine and every now and then her thumb would pet my hand, lovingly. She smelled faintly of wildflowers.

"Because you're not real, Samantha," I said quietly. Without looking I could feel her frown. Her button nose would be wrinkled up, with just a slight pout. Her hand went slack for a moment, and I wondered if this would be the day she would finally leave me. Instead, she surprised me by pushing me against a bookcase and pressing her soft lips to mine. Her breath was sweet, bubblegum and promise, and I felt my resolve weaken.

"Don't I feel real to you?" She whispered, her mouth just inches from my own. I looked around nervously, but no one was watching. If someone had been watching they would have seen me lean in and place a soft, gentle kiss on a pair of lips that weren't there. I let the kiss linger as long as I could before pushing her away.

"You feel real because I'm crazy, Samantha. That doesn't make you real. And you only love me because I created you. Trust me; there are a lot of better guys out there. Hell, I'll write you one if you want." I turned towards the bookshelf and started browsing titles. Samantha sighed. I'd hurt her feelings again.

"Do you think you're crazy?"

"Sam, please, I don't want to get you upset," I said. The scent of her perfume and shampoo lingered when she was close to me and it made butterflies rustle in my stomach. She rested her head on my shoulder and slid her arms around my waist.

"Why do you think you're crazy, Daniel?" When she spoke her voice was honey sweet and wisps of her warm breath bathed my neck. I shivered, and smiled, in spite of myself.

"If someone were to see us right now, you know what they would see, Samantha? Me, alone, browsing through a shelf full of old paperbacks. If they saw us kissing, they'd see me, kissing the air. You've seen yourself in the mirror, Sam. You're not there. I don't think I'm crazy. I KNOW I'm crazy. I'm having a fling with a character from a story that I didn't even finish. No matter how real you seem to me, you're still just an imaginary character."

I tried to ignore her by thumbing through a paperback, but she knocked it out my hands and walked away in a huff. I stared at the book on the ground. That was a new trick. She'd never before affected anything that wasn't me, before. No, clearly I had dropped the book when I imagined her hand hitting it. I was getting worse.

Samantha was gone for nearly a week after the book store incident. It wasn't long before I started to miss her. I was going nuts, I knew that. I had schizophrenia, or a brain tumor. Something terrible like that. Well people don't just start sleeping with their fictional characters. But I missed Samantha. I found that it was hard to sleep alone now. I'd grown accustomed to falling asleep with my arms around her. I would wake up in the night and reach for her. Finding her gone I would shudder, and feel very alone.

A week later I woke to the feeling of her crawling into bed. She buried her face in my chest and sobbed. I held her tightly and ran my fingers through her hair.

"I love you Daniel," she said. "I missed you so much."

"I missed you too, Samantha. I can't tell you how much. I'm sorry about the things I said. I didn't mean them."

"I want to be real for you, Daniel." She sobbed. Her tears felt hot on my skin and I held her as she cried.

"I know you do, kiddo." I whispered. "I know you do."

"I don't know how, if I knew how-"

"It's ok," I said and pulled her tight against me, letting her cry. When Samantha finished crying, we made love, and then she curled up, kittenish, into a pile of blankets and pillows. When she was sound asleep I crawled out of bed and went to my office, careful not to wake her. I didn't sleep a minute that night.

I powered up my computer with a mix of excitement and apprehension. I wasn't sure if I was crazy or not anymore, but I knew what needed to be done. It would fix her or it would kill her. I opened her story. The rapid fire sounds of keyboard chatter filled the night. I finished it.

It took all night, a pot of coffee and a pack and a half of cigarettes to get it done. A feeling of dread and excitement coursed through me as I typed "The End" and clicked "Save." For nearly an hour I couldn't move, too afraid to see what I had done. I had either become her creator, or her executioner. I staggered to my feet and went to the bedroom.

My heart ached when I found the bed empty. The pillows were still arranged, the blankets in a pile, but Samantha was not there. The scent of her still lingered in the room, like a memory. I leaned against the wall and let out a long, deep sigh.

The butterflies returned as I heard the sound of someone starting the shower, and I raced to the bathroom door, throwing it open. Samantha peeked out from behind the curtain, clearly startled by what must have been a very peculiar look on my face.

"Don't you knock?" She said. I grabbed the medicine cabinet mirror and nearly tore it off its hinges as I raced to angle it towards her. Her eyes went wide as she saw her own reflection for the first time.

"Daniel! What did you do?" She said as I climbed into the shower, still in my clothes. I pulled her to me and tilted her chin, letting her warm, sweet lips brush against mine.

"I finished you, Samantha. Just like you finished me." She pushed me away and grinned.

"Daniel, that's the most contrived line I've ever heard. You're lucky I'm madly in love with you." She smiled and I laughed. Yep, she was certainly one of mine.

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Issue #2

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