“Why me?” Lenny moaned. Not for the first time. Everything always seemed to happen to him. Just one of the many curses of his life, including having come into being with an enormous head and a tiny body. How did that even work, anyway?
Today was especially awful. Today, he had been called in to the principal’s office for something he hadn’t even done. At least, he was pretty sure that was why he was on his way there instead of in chemistry class. He was sometimes responsible for things that went wrong, but most of the time they kind of just happened. And even when they were his fault, they weren’t. Not really.
It was Baxter’s fault. Baxter was constantly dropping Lenny into the middle of bad things. True, he always helped him out of them as well. But it would be nice if he’d pick on someone else for a change.
Will, Lenny’s nemesis, had, it seemed, preceded him to Principal Smith’s office. He sat in a chair outside the door, his oh-so-perfect head hanging down and his shoulders slumped. Lenny perked up a bit. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Principal Smith, spotting Lenny through the open door, waved both boys in and gestured to the two chairs in front of his desk. Lenny took the one on the left. Will’s butt had barely touched the seat of the second when Principal Smith said, “Boys, I know you don’t get along, but I want you to work together on a new project we’re pioneering here at the school.”
Both Lenny and Will sat up straighter, shooting sidelong glances at each other. What was going on? And why would they be working together?
Baxter wondered the same thing himself. The rivalry between the boys was getting old. He needed a new slant for his online comic if he wanted to increase his readership. Maybe…That’s it! he thought.
Sketching furiously, Baxter added a snarky robot girl to the next panel. Oh, the trouble she was going to cause for both Lenny and Will. His fans would eat this up. Baxter couldn’t wait.
Today’s image wanted a story, but it sat in a folder for months, waiting for inspiration. On a whim, I put it at the top of a page and just started writing. Poor Lenny’s got it rough. But a comic creator has to keep their audience hooked. Looks like things are going from bad to worse for Lenny.
Storytellers specialize in torturing our characters. How we go about it varies from story to story and from writer to writer. But a story without conflict isn’t a story. And a character whose life runs smoothly holds no interest for readers.
Lenny woke up and went to school and had a great day. He went home, ate supper, and went to bed.
Not much of a story, is it?
Even though not a lot actually happens in “Lenny’s Life,” the reveal that he’s actually a comic character and he’s in for more of the same (or worse) is the story. In fact, this is actually Baxter’s story. Or is it?
Oh, my!! I just read this. I had not even had time to scan it before I sent my email prompt. So much fun and exactly the type of story that was in my imagination 🤣🤣🤣
Love this, Dascha. Maybe overthinking this idea that it's Baxter's story--how Baxter has to keep the readers hooked--I always think about this kind of experience, sometimes creatives forego their originality and authenticity for something more marketable. Sometimes it's hard to bridge the gap between marketable and authentic. Poor Baxter, poor Lenny.