Doctor: You feel you are not as important as other people?
Patient: Ever read any novels, doc?
Doctor: Of course, but you’re deflecting the question.
Patient: So you understand the concept of primary and secondary characters, then? Some are heroes, some are villains, and they are the ones driving the story forward. Protagonists and antagonists. Everyone else is just a supporting character, making the story a little more complete. I’m one of those, but barely. Almost a background character, really.
Doctor: You feel you’re secondary. It’s a nice analogy, I’ll have to write it down. In psychiatry, we refer to the feeling you just described as an inferiority complex. Are you familiar with the term?
Patient: I’m not speaking analogously. I am a secondary character, written into existence only because the author needed a hostage who was wearing a silver wristwatch with black trimming. Apparently, it’s some major plot point I’m not actually involved in. I just lend my watch to the hero, Gary. He tosses it back to me at the end and says something clever. I only have PTSD because it was written into me in the last chapter. A last-ditch attempt at giving me some depth, adding just a bit of tragedy to the happy ending. Everything about me was written that way: my watch, my hair, this scar on my elbow from being bitten from a dog when I was a child. Sometimes, I run a finger over it and I remember the experience, remember how it felt, the blood. But then I realize that I was never actually there, never actually had a childhood. He just wrote me the memory, he didn’t write me a history.
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