Doe-eyed Little Charlie reached for the crushed paper plane on the ground and held it in his soft, sore hands. Somehow the papercuts seemed to sting even more. As the pain intensified he slumped his slight body closer and closer to the ground on which his paper plane- the paper plane he had folded with so much care and precision, the paper plane which appeared to be the most beautiful paper plane he had ever made in his eyes- had fallen. But it didn't matter to Little Charlie anymore because in spite of the splendour the little hand-made toy held before, in spite of the hours he took to make it out of love and in spite of the lack of care he had for the papercuts that sliced his skin from his attempts to make the perfect paper plane, she didn't think it was beautiful. No matter how beautiful it had appeared to him, it wasn't beautiful to her. So it was no longer beautiful to him either. And the paper plane deserved to be in the state that it was- crushed and destroyed. Little Charlie's turquoise-rimmed spectacles clinked to the ground.
Minnie once told Little Charlie that he could create the perfect paper plane for her. Unfortunately, Little Charlie realised that the overwhelming number of attempts he had made to create the perfect paper plane had finally led her to lose faith in him. Minnie had evolved from someone who would encourage Little Charlie to achieve something great, to someone who just embedded the thought in his mind that he could never achieve anything.
Little Charlie blinked his tears away for a clearer vision of his surroundings. To his slight surprise, his eyes met with Minnie's.
Her voice sliced the air with its monotony. Little Charlie sniffed.
"No," he whispered.
"I'm sorry for just leaving you like that. Get up."
"No," whispered Little Charlie again. "My friends keep telling me you're not real. And I've been fine with that. But I'm not fine knowing that I cannot make you a perfect paper plane."
Minnie's cold blue eyes softened.
"I am real." She sounded hurt. Her pale lips gave a subtle quiver.
"No," Little Charlie's voice grew slightly louder. "They keep asking me why I laugh and cry the next second. They ask me who I'm talking to whenever I'm talking to you. They make fun of me when they see my desk cluttered with so many paper planes and maybe they laugh at me because they're all so ugly."
Minnie looked startled as Little Charlie flashed his hands at her, showing her the faint scars on his fingers.
Little Charlie felt a sudden burst within him that drove him to keep speaking. He couldn't stop.
"Do you know where I got these scars from? They call me the 'Crazy Paper Plane Kid' because folding those damned paper planes- none of which you liked- that's all I've been doing in school, outside my house, when I'm eating with Ma and Pa, everywhere, for you. I made all of those paper planes for you and you never liked any of them, and I was fine with that. But if you're not even real, then what have I been doing?"
He finally got on his feet and looked up at Minnie.
"You know what's real? You're not real. Every crooked part of those paper planes you rejected, every crease in them, every wrong fold that wouldn't make them fly smoothly like you wanted them to and these- these papercuts on my fingers... they're real. Every flaw from those paper planes I tried to make in attempts to finally have the perfect one for you, they're real. But you... You're not real."
Little Charlie's last words came out as but a murmur. Minnie looked devastated. Her mouth hung open slightly and her vulnerable eyes held desperation. She was at a loss for words.
Little Charlie gently took her right hand. He clasped his own tiny hand in hers. Hesitantly, he glanced sideways. The people who passed by him were reacting to him as they normally would. One would think that there was nothing wrong with the situation, but Little Charlie saw the problem. It was too normal. The way everyone reacted as they passed by him, the way they shifted their eyes away after a bare glance at him, it was the same way they reacted to him when he was by himself. Barely a glance, just a passing look. It was impossible. Minnie was beautiful. Tall, shining blue eyes, light brown bouncy locks. No one would react that way to someone so beautiful.
Minnie was just another figment of Little Charlie's odd imagination. That was something he had to get used to. She was the only person who ever talked to Little Charlie like he was a human being, the only person who would wipe his tears whenever he threw long tantrums for not scoring full marks for his exams, the only person who would listen to him complain and burst into rage about how the moon was not actually round. It was foolish of him to believe that someone so beautiful would do all of those things for him when everyone else laughed at him and his oddities. It was foolish of him to believe that someone like that was real.
The first day Little Charlie met Minnie and found out that she, too, had a fascination with paper planes, he felt a happiness he had never felt before. Finally, he had met someone who shared something with him that most people would find strange. And ever since that day he vowed to himself that he would create the perfect paper plane for her. But he never did. He thought he'd created the perfect paper plane, but after how she had reacted to it, it was clear that it was only a perfect paper plane to him. Almost everything he did throughout his life satisfied himself. No one was ever happy with him, and the one person he found so dear and thought he could please by creating an impeccable paper plane for, proved to be the biggest figment of his imagination thus far.
Little Charlie stared at his hand. Minnie had disappeared, but his scarred little hand stayed frozen where it had previously been, seemingly holding on to air.