I think I was ten when I wrote my first story. My dad had bought me a plastic ship for my birthday, because I loved pirates. There were no puppets included however, so I drew a face on my index finger with a marker and named him captain of the ship. Black shaggy hair and a beard that covered most of his face (my marker had slipped) gave him a fierce look and ruined my finger. I named him Captain Stripes, because the shirt I had given him was striped. He still hates me for that name.
That night in my dreams, Captain Stripes came to life. He sailed the seas of unconsciousness and fought amazing battles. Water as salt as my tears spat up at every gunshot. When the enemy ship came too close, Captain Stripes grabbed a rope and led his crew to board the other ship. He swung in the air and… landed or his face, tangled in sails. Or at least, I did. I woke up on the floor with the blankets trying to strangle me. It was still dark outside, so I untied myself, picked up the blanket and threw myself on my bed again. I was about to fall asleep again when I heard the voice.
"Hey, aren't you gonna pick me up?"
I looked around confused and scared (after all, I was only ten at the time). "Who's there?" I whispered.
"I'm Captain Stripes, you idiot. Now, am I still allowed on that bed or not?"
I looked at the floor next to the bed, searching for the source of the sound. In the faint green glow of my night light (which looked like an alien, hence the green light) I spotted a miniature version of Captain Stripes. He was about the size of my hand, with dark messy hair as if a toddler drew it (was my drawing really that bad?), a beard that covered most of his face because my marker had slipped and a striped shirt. He also wore typical pirate boots, a long leather coat a and a hat. I hadn't drawn those on my finger, but he had been wearing them in my dream.
I crouched on the bed, trying to hide behind my pillow. This is a dream, I told myself, trying to ignore Captain Stripes shouting "You coward! Show me your face!" at me. I closed my eyes, laid down on the bed and tried to ignore the shouts from the ground. Somehow, I managed to fall asleep despite all the noise the little figure made.
He wasn't very happy with that. When I woke up, he scolded at me all the way through breakfast. How did he get to the kitchen, I can hear you think. I had no idea back then. But now I know. Every character I create comes to life as a small figure. No one sees them but me. They're a part of my imagination, so wherever I go, they follow. Whether I want it or not. It started with Captain Stripes, but before I had a clue about what was going on, I had invented a few more characters. Now I'm more careful. I try to make my newest characters nice and likable. Unlike the selfish, annoying Captain Stripes. Why didn't I draw him any nicer? Or smarter? Can't change it now I guess. I'm stuck with him for the rest of my life.