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© 2023 by Britt A Willis.

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Gender-neutral characters

 
INNOCENT BYSTANDER from Use All Available Doors (any race, teens+)

 

So this one time I get on the train and there's this woman sitting across from me. And she’s normal. I mean, like, that sounds rude but I wouldn’t have thought anything about her, just some lady on the metro. So, she's looking out and this man, this guy who must’ve got on the train behind me, well, he… well...

WET WIPES MAN delicately removes the LADY's shoes and sets them carefully to the side. He pulls a wet wipe from the pack with a flourish and begins washing the LADY's feet as if polishing a nice pair of leather shoes.

She stares into the distance. Maybe she cries. This is a moment.

He puts the wet wipe in his pocket and rubs her shoes as if massaging a lover's feet before he helps her slip them back on.

THAT, he… THAT. He did THAT. And there's no way she knew him, right? And I don't think, I don't even think he asked? But the three of us are all sitting there together, I mean, we're all aware this happened! Her and her newly cleaned feet and him and his Weird Wet Wipes and me. And we just ride out the rest of the stop in silence. Like nothing happened.

He must’ve asked right??


 

SIBLING from Use All Available Doors (any race, 20s+)

 

That pen...
My older brother used that brand.
He used to, to put the pen in between his teeth like a,
you know that thing, you know, like a dancer with a rose
in his teeth, with the petals dangling and the thorns broken off

and he'd just chew.
Chew chew chew.
I thought it was so gross.
Chew chew chew chew chew chew chew.

The pens, they always ended up like this one, a little bent in the middle and textured…
I don't know how he wrote with them but every night
I fell asleep to the point scratching against paper in short strokes,
words rocking me through paper-thin walls.

One of my friends, an only child, once asked me what it's like to have an older brother.
Wasn't too bad, I guess.
Mostly we just avoided each other.
...he, uh, he doesn't write anymore.


 

GLOVE OWNER from Use All Available Doors (any race, late 20s+)

 

Wait, that's--that's my glove!

They were brand new. I bought them with my first paycheck at my new job.
Red gloves with fleece lining. And touch screen compatible!
Which seemed like a luxury at the time...

But...

I dropped the right one at Metro Center and a train vaulted it into the air, whipping it about until it landed on a grate across the tracks, perfectly posed like someone delicately resting their hand on a lover’s arm.

I stared at my right glove every day waiting for the train on my way to work.

The fingers started to blacken--I couldn't tell if they burned or just collected dirt--and once the palm was plump with a rat making a nest. Every morning I watched my right glove dip farther and farther into the grate as my right hand became number and number in the cold.

It was during this winter that I became increasingly aware all my favorite love poems were actually tragedies.

 

 

GUITARIST from ID (any race, 20s+)

 

This is

This is an original

an original song

As much as anything can be original at least

What am I but a copy of my parents 

who are copies of their parents 

of their parents 

of their parents

and perhaps this song is a copy of us

as we are copies of them

or maybe not

Maybe not

You know 

there are painters

who spend their lives copying great masters

making reproductions of their work

and sometimes their copies are put on display

while paintings in museums are on loan or removed for cleaning

and no one’s the wiser, no one knows

and really

at that point you have to ask 

does it really matter if no one can tell the difference?

There was a woman

you know this story I promise you’ve heard it

a woman in Spain who attempted to restore a detailed painting of Jesus,

covering the original in thick, eager brushstrokes. 

And maybe that ruined the painting

or maybe she simply created an original and a copy.

Because this is art and this is life, isn’t it.

Our lovers are copies of the first,

our clothes copies of a pattern,

our work a copy of the one who taught us

whether it was a mentor or the ever-present weight of life,

and maybe this is wrong or maybe it’s okay

 

And this is an original song.

As much as it can be, at least.

FIGURE from This Vessel Is A Fragile Thing (any race, 50s-60s)

 

The book of the generation of The Body,
the child of, the child of?
They begat they; and they begat they; and they begat they and their kin;

And they begat her and him of there; and she begat they; and they begat him!


No lies lie here, this is built of truth:

As below, so above, and as above, so below, here to perform a singular miracle.

Just as every speck of being came to be through one focus, 

so every speck is re-created through one focus, a singular thing.
The sun is their father,
the moon their mother,
they have been carried in the gut of the wind and nursed from the breast of the earth.

All natural perfection is here. 

They are most whole when transformed into earth.
Split them.
Break the earth from the fire,
pull apart the structure from the essence,

carefully, with complete attention.
And then, from earth to heaven, they rise,

And then, from heaven to earth they fall,
and in this they draw the power of all types.
In the witnessing of this, you can bear the understanding of the whole world
and lose any uncertainty.

This is true mind, true guts, true nerve, this conquers the structure and reveals the essence.
So were they made. So were you. So was the whole world created.
And with this knowledge, through this process, magnificent adaptations may be produced.

I am I and I have said all I came here to say. 

BAKER from This Vessel Is A Fragile Thing (any race, late 30s-40s)

 

I went home early. 

I went home early. 

I went home early 

because I was 

scared. 

The sky, it was… 

I thought a storm, a bad storm. 

And then the sirens

and I am home safe my daughters are clutched in my arms we are stuffed in a closet smothered in pillows and I am home safe with my family we are safe we are safe we are safe everything is fine it all ends with some trees in the road, nothing bad, it hurt others still it missed us we are fine

But

But my… my life spared…

A terrible trade.

My shop is gone.

My life spared but my livelihood

Gone.

All

gone.

 

This section of the main road will be closed three years,

no one can and no one will build here. The town will suffer,
travelers will skip over us along the new loop in the interstate

and the people who live here will now focus on their own livelihoods,

buying cheap bread in grocery stores instead of chicken salad sandwiches,
canisters of coffee grounds instead of fresh-brewed cups,

baking kolache and klobasnicky with their grandmothers

or maybe they will forget their grandmothers and just make do with a biscuit and jelly, and frozen sausages in buns.

My children would have been better off with my death insurance. 

CAN’T (any gender, any race, 20s+)

 

Don't interrupt me when I'm working. Never interrupt me when I'm working!

Pause.

 

Please. sorry. I didn't meant to, well, I swear I'm not trying to be an asshole I just can't concentrate on more than one thing at once. I can't wrap my head around all the concepts and colors. Like, if I tried while you were talking, this would turn into you and not what I've had planned for weeks. I'm not saying that would be a bad thing; I just, I've spent a lot of time planning it, you know? And all that preparation would be lost just because you needed to cross check a grocery list or tell me a story about work. I mean, that would even be worse. You'd tell me about work and my work would turn into yours, into your annoyance and impatience with all those assholes at your job, you know? I'm not saying I don't like you showing up in these sometimes but I'd rather choose that instead of having it forced on me. You understand, right? I love you. The first time I saw you your hair was longer and I couldn't figure out the hue. I had seen it before, but I never thought about that color of hair until I saw you pushing it away from your eyes to squint at a ticket stub. I was useless the rest of the day. I tripped up stairs, I bumped into strangers, I dropped my sandwich because all day I obsessed over lining up the colors. I went over pairings and sets and I wondered if I had been able to take a photo would the color be as true. I kept hoping you'd come back so I could ask if you dyed it. so I could find the exact brand, box, bottle the mixture came from. I stood in an aisle at the store searching for your color but nothing matched what I remembered. I wondered if your original color affected the hue. And then I remembered it might be natural. And that was more infuriating to me than anything else because what if I couldn't recreate it. If the color's from a box, someone's mixed it before and I could do it again. If not, there's no guarantee. I didn't even know your name. I didn't know how brilliant you were. I didn't know anything but the color of your hair. And I barely knew that. Everything I created for weeks was your hair. Everything. Can't you understand how frustrating that is? Can you understand why I need you to never interrupt me while I'm working?