“How’s it going with the write up for the next character reveal?” Asked Charles, staring at the black screen. Her camera was off, but he insisted to not reciprocate and continued to exaggerate his Japanese style nodding towards the webcam, as he reminded the artist that the deadline was this Thursday.
“It’s Monday, so there’s plenty of time,” Cassie replied.
Cassie was her artist name, which she had taken from a foreign film where the heroine dies trying to save a horse in a fire. She couldn’t remember if it was the name of the horse or the heroine but the storyline remained as a driving force in her ethos. She refused to work overtime unless it meant saving her colleagues from losing their jobs. With the current economy being a ‘shithole’ as Hideki would often bark, she often found herself fatigued and sleepy.
She appreciated Charles, as he didn’t automatically disregard her feedback like some of the higher ups (or more specifically, Hideki, that motherfucker). She could channel her inner artist soul and express herself as a creative should, and be respected for it. In other words, if she was having a bad day, she could fly off the handle at any time and he’d suck it up and try his best to comfort her while her emotions swirled like the wind. He was indeed a valuable friend and today, as she felt exasperated in front of the blank canvas, today, was definitely not a good day.
“No disrespect,” she blurted out, “but these characters are just boring as fuck. (She slipped into a southern drawl here) I mean, wow bruv, two soldiers, I mean, really? What was I supposed to do? Give them haircuts like brooms? Make them punch faster than the speed of light? One of them already has sunglasses, Jesus, why not just drape them in an American flag and have them scream ‘Hell yeah!!!’ as they shoot everyone from a tower in Las Vegas? Wait, you’re not American are you?”
“Can you please call me Cassie!” she said, through clenched teeth, which wasn’t easy and clear to understand. Her teeth were a little disjointed but also flattened from grinding in her sleep.
“Sorry, Cassie,” he said, “I’m French”.
“Sorry?” he wasn’t sure if she was now angry and playing with him or just playing with him or trying to get back at him. In fact she was doing all three. It was her right, as an artist, to be absolutely strange and mysterious. Or just mad.
“I have a lot of work to do, please tell me what you need.” Even with the camera off, it was clear now (audibly, not visually, albeit he did picture her sullen face), that she had turned from the camera, or had moved away. She was certainly distant in her tone: “I would appreciate clear instructions, as I am just a simple drawing robot.”
He took a deep breath in, and hoped she didn’t hear it. He put his mediating hat on.
“Please excuse me Cassie, I’m only trying to help the team succeed. Please, could you show me what you have written so far. We can work something out together.”
“Oh, right…” she replied, the fire behind her eyes a little dampened. “Would you like me to share my screen?”
“That would be appreciated.”
The screen flickered and Charles was surprised to see two turd swirls with little arms and legs, complete with sunglasses, waving flags and machine guns.
He held back from making a pun. Not that it worked in Japanese, anyway.
“Go on, say it.” she said.
“Say it’s shit (this was not a pun), because that’s what it is, isn’t it? You think I can’t see that? I’ve been trying to write about these shitty characters that I am supposed to be responsible for but wasn’t actually allowed to change- did you know fans often draw them in superhero costumes? I mean, how cool is that? But when I suggested it, noooo, noooo, they need to represent their origins, they’re soldiers not superheroes, holy shit, dude, what is evolution, in other companies they got their characters growing fucking beards and emphasising their thigh thicness, I mean, shit, what the fuck, why are we stuck in the 90s?”
He gulped, as her words certainly had some reason to it. Another deep breath.
“Understood. I do appreciate your concerns. Still I know the level of your talent, you’ve always created great work. I’m sure you did do something and I’m sure it will be cool. Can you show me?”
She knew what he was doing but she still felt better due to the compliment. She also got that shit off her chest that had dragged her down for a few weeks. Now there were just thirty more character design decisions to deal with. She pulled at the stray cowlick. She didn’t understand why her usually straight hair refused to behave itself. She folded her right leg over the left, drew a breath, put her hand delicately flat upon her knee and presented the creative vision he had been waiting for, on the screen. The two soldiers appeared, in all their glory.
“Now, see, they both wear sunglasses, and, these are based on the modern trend. They have a space cut out at each bottom corner, it’s very cool, makes them look very… stoic.”
Now she had to wait for his plebeian comment. She was sure he would say something nice or be constructively critical but she couldn’t help but feel extremely sensitive and on edge.
“Yes, I see, I see, it’s very good, very cool, of course,” he said, and she exhaled in relief. “Now, this is interesting, what’s this flag here on their trousers?”
She inhaled sharply, and her heartbeat increased, as she knew this was going to be a point. “That,” she said with building conviction, “is the Pride flag.”
There was a lot of inhaling and exhaling.