"Okay, is it my turn now?" Odelia Grey snaps at me with impatience.
"Whatever do you mean?" I ask, trying to appear innocent and clueless as I keep my fingers pressed to the keyboard.
"Haven't you had enough of ghosts and vampires?" Odelia continues her rant, hands on her bulky hips. "And what's with the farting dog and bunny suit? Geez, Sue Ann, you're a novelist, not a short story writer. If you want to write about stinkin' holidays, do it on your own time, not mine!"
"Okay, Odelia, okay. I hear ya. Sheesh, could you tone it down, you're upsetting B and Raffi."
"Oh pleeeeese... Raffi is comatose on the chair and B's under the bed, as usual."
"Point taken. But don't worry, I'm working on your next adventure. Honest." I take a swig of water from a nearby bottle, wishing it was vodka.
Odelia looks over the words on the computer screen in front of me. "That's it? That's all you have so far?" She shakes her head. "At this rate, we'll both be retired paralegals before you finish."
"I have it under control." I try my best to ignore her and keep working.
She checks the calendar hanging over my desk. "Isn't this book due to the publisher on October 1st? That's just," her voice trails off as she counts the days, her stubby fingers jabbing at each calendar block. She lifts the flap for August and keeps counting. "That's just 58 days away!"
"October 1st is a Saturday," I reply. "That gives me until October 3rd. You know, like with taxes when April 15th falls on a weekend. So I really have 60 days and there's a long weekend in the mix somewhere. Plenty of time." I can feel my voice shake a bit as her point hits home.
Odelia is now jabbing her finger into my left shoulder. "I don't like it one bit when you cut it so close. It's bad enough you have me babysitting a kid in this book, now I have to worry about YOUR deadline."
"Be nice," I warn, "or in this book I'll put you on a diet."
Odelia's mouth drops open with indignation. "You wouldn't dare!"
"Just a few keystrokes and you're eating celery instead of cheesecake."
"Kiss my big fat heiny."
"Okay, but that little remark just traded your morning donut for a rice cake. Go ahead," I tell her, a finger poised over the delete key, "keep running your mouth and the Ben and Jerry's will vanish next."
She taps her foot while pondering her options. "Hmmm, maybe 60 days is plenty of time to finish a book." As she disappears, Odelia's final words hang in the air like a benediction.
Sometimes, you just gotta show your characters who's boss.