I adjust a thin, cotton sheet over the space in between two, thick cushioned arms and let it drop over the front, covering all of the gaps. I tuck in the corners to make sure the sheet is secure before I crawl into the cotton fortress with my book. I am writing my own novel now. I want to create a character that isn’t perfect. The antihero. It allows the light to come in better than a winter blanket as I fit myself in the blank space and unfold into a new book. Everyone in workshop keeps talking about how he seems so stoic, my character. They would like to see more of a reaction. I bring a flashlight in case clouds outside cover the sun entering through the window, and it becomes too dark to read. Maybe that will reveal more about him as a character, the other writers suggest. They say maybe I should draw back the sheet and allow for some redeeming qualities. They are missing the point. His stoicism does reveal more about him as a character. They note confusion that he lies on the ground, making himself small, and disassociates himself from the pain as a group of boys takes turns kicking and beating him. Why not fight back, they say? Why not react? Does he not feel pain? They miss another point. It’s not that he doesn’t feel. It’s that he doesn’t show what he feels. He feels the pain. He covers it with a thin, cotton sheet. But they have only read the opening chapters. The hiding place will soon be outgrown. The space is too small, and it’s translucent.
Calida Osti is a poet and writer originally from Georgia who is currently writing in Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sugared Water and Writers Resist. Say hello on Instagram or Twitter @rawr_lida or by visiting CalidaOsti.com