At one time, neither I nor Mariposa knew each other, and somehow, we survived without the other’s company (barely). I wouldn’t be the annoying, exasperating, stupid dinosaur assistant I am today if it wasn’t for her loving guidance and hollering at me. Nor would she be the stubborn, air-headed boss she is today if it wasn’t for my encouragement and distractions.
And neither of us would be here if it wasn’t for that one moment a long, long time ago in a place not far, far away…
In honor of the anniversary month of
my our digsite, I’ve decided to break away from my normal format and give you the uninspiring story of how me and Mariposa met.
How Aberdeen the Authorosaurus Got Stuck Working for Mariposa
Once upon a prehistoric time, Aberdeen the Authorosaurus was standing over his old boss’s shoulder, innocently not minding his own business, as his boss beat the keyboard like the madman Aberdeen thought he was. People referred to his boss as “Michael,” though Aberdeen called him “Misspell” because he could never keep his letters straight.
“Knot-head is spelled K-N-O-T-H-E-A-D, not P-O-T-H-E-A-D.” Aberdeen leaned over, bumping the laptop screen with his head.
“I know that!” Michael growled, adjusting the screen so Aberdeen couldn’t have the pleasure of bumping it again. “I did it on purpose.”
“Yeah, sure! Just like when you purposely wrote that your characters ate toilets for lunch,” Aberdeen reminded him, knowing how defective humans’ memories were.
“That was a typo.” He got up, switching his laptop off so Aberdeen couldn’t analyze the story anymore.
Aberdeen followed him to his mailbox, which was so full of rejections that it probably equaled the number of pages in a ten-volume encyclopedia set written in Latin. “You know, if you listened to me more, you wouldn’t receive so many rejections.”
Michael, in his usual introverted fashion, didn’t answer. Aberdeen took the rejections and added them to his why-Michael-should-listen-to-me box for safekeeping in case of a sudden case of cantankerousness on Michael’s part. Unfortunately, though, he’d received so many rejections that the box wouldn’t hold any more. Aberdeen had worked for Michael all his life, so you’d think that at least once he’d listen to Aberdeen and write something decent. Aberdeen was up to his short arms with his boss’s stubbornness—they’d be famous if he’d simply heed Aberdeen’s advice!
Aberdeen frowned, grabbing a new box and writing “Why I should go on strike.” He stuffed the new rejections in there before stomping over to his bookshelf to see what novels Michael had left him for dinner.
Three books leaned on the shelf, so thin that Aberdeen almost needed a magnifying glass to see them. That was the second time this week, and probably wouldn’t be the last. A dinosaur can hardly get a decent meal anymore. Michael snored on the couch, not writing like he was supposed to. If Aberdeen hadn’t been so weak from literary hunger, he would have sat on him.
Aberdeen raided Michael’s desk for something to nibble on. A yummy-looking draft fell out of the drawer. After sniffing it for any potential choking hazards like plot holes, he devoured it, leaving a few crumbs of shredded paper on the floor.
“You consumed my manuscript!” Michael burst out, arising from his state of suspended stupidity at the sight of the crumbs. He rushed over, picking up every last piece of paper. “That was my only copy!”
“I told you that you should back up your files.” Aberdeen licked his lips, savoring the last bite of the words. He expected Michael to fire him as he always did (but never really did). Instead, Michael loaded up all his ideas and threw them out the window. What a stupid thing to do! Now no one can help him! Aberdeen tried to stop him, but he continued to throw his pens and notebooks out the window too.
“Fine! If you feel that way, I quit!” Aberdeen stomped out of the office and slammed the door.
Now, some people might call this the first plot point of the story, or perhaps the inciting event, because this is what set all the events in motion. However, Aberdeen calls this an “incinerating event” because he was essentially fired.
He wished the heat of the incinerating event had lasted as he stepped into the cold, sarcastic human world. He’d never been without a job since the day he hatched. But Aberdeen was determined to find a job soon. Thankfully, that wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be.
It was harder.
You’d think that every writer would want a dinosaur assistant, wouldn’t you? Seems like dragon assistants were in the highest demand, elves coming in second, and phoenixes third. With all those fantastical creatures, it’s difficult for a dinosaur to get a word in edgewise. Let alone an interview with a writer.
Aberdeen’s stomach was getting desperate for literature, so he had to do something drastic. He disguised himself as a dragon.
Do not try this at home. It is embarrassing (not to mention uncomfortable).
For a while, writers passed by him, eyeing him suspiciously and probably wondering if he was some kind of mythical mutant. By the time that thirty-eight published writers, twenty-one unpublished writers, and one nerd who didn’t know what he was doing had looked him over, the Hire an Assistant Agency handed him an address and told him he’d been hired by some lady who wrote children’s books.
As much as you expect that writer to be Mariposa, Aberdeen expected them to be somebody he’d never heard of. But if they were Mariposa, the story would be ending, and you’re not quite ready for that. Whoever this person was, they couldn’t be too much of a nobody, because nobodies don’t live in mansions that are so large Aberdeen could walk through the front door without getting stuck.
A butler ushered Aberdeen in and directed him to an office stuffed with enough books to last him till extinction. Aberdeen knew the lady was undoubtedly a writer, not because she was sitting at a desk typing, but because she was wearing pajamas and had a stash of chocolate nearby—she was too much of a nut not to be one.
Aberdeen took a sweeping bow and therefore bumped the ceiling with his tail, causing dust to fall off. “Aberdeen the Authorosaurus, not at your service.” He introduced himself so she wouldn’t get the wrong idea about who was in charge.
She turned to face him, and he fainted (good thing the floor was sturdy). He hadn’t recognized her from the back, but now he saw that she was a renowned author so famous that he didn’t even remember what her name was.
Aberdeen revived himself and promptly shook her hand as best as his short arms allowed. He’d always wanted to work for a famous author! Just think, I’ll be a famous author’s assistant! And I could make her even more famous!
“What do you want me to do?” he asked, her status making him forget that he was in charge. She and her butler looked as if they never expected Aberdeen to do anything at all. “Haven’t you ever had a writing aide?”
They shook their heads. Aberdeen grinned, rubbing his claws together. This was the perfect ground for cultivating a healthy author/assistant relationship! He wouldn’t have to worry about her being stupid and taking over.
“Why don’t you sit there while I write?” she suggested, pointing to a chair that Aberdeen immediately sat in, broke, and apologized for all in one sitting. While the butler was busy contacting different chair-making companies, Aberdeen watched the author, preparing to point out every typo she did and didn’t make.
But, for as long as she typed, not a solitary typo or grammatical error marred the screen. Determined to find something wrong, he waited in the corner until she finished so he could pick out plot flaws instead.
But he couldn’t find any of those either. Somehow he’d fallen into the residence of a perfect writer, either that or he’d died and this was an author angel. Whichever it was, each day he’d come to her office, break a chair or two, and wait for her not to make any mistakes. She fed him well enough, giving any and every book his heart desired, though somehow that never seemed to fill the hole in his stomach; maybe because the hole was in his heart.
One day, on the way to work, Aberdeen stopped to look in the window of another writer. A dragon blasted the author with flames, singeing his hair and then he promptly went back to work. Aberdeen never had to urge his new boss to write, because she always wrote of her own accord. Passing on, he came to another window, where a griffin devoured the writer’s rough draft and coughed it back in her face. Aberdeen’s boss’s drafts were so smooth that they were like eating books that had been edited six times. Almost at his boss’s house, he stopped by one last window and saw a writer and her fairy assistant smiling and giving each other celebratory hugs for having finished their book.
Wiping back an ink tear, Aberdeen loped into the mansion where his boss sat in her usual perfect posture. Except this time she wasn’t writing. Aberdeen perked up—maybe for once he’d have a chance to sit on her.
She beckoned him over. “My manuscript needs something—like a spark to set it aflame.” She snapped her finger. “Why don’t you breathe fire on it? That should do the trick!”
Aberdeen’s shorts arms shook. He wasn’t a dragon and couldn’t even breathe smoke, let alone fire! What was he to do? He backed up, accidentally bumping into a ceiling fan with one of his cardboard wings. The fan sliced into his left wing, sending pieces of cardboard flying across the room like it was a crafter’s ballroom.
“Imposter!” the Butler shrieked, and Aberdeen charged out before he could fire him (wouldn’t look good on his resume, you know). This is what you might call a midpoint, though Aberdeen called it a mind point, because that’s when he made the smart move to stop being what he wasn’t and start looking for a writer who actually wanted (and needed) a dinosaur assistant and not a dragon.
So his journey of job hunting started once again. For months he wandered about the literary world, searching for someone, but no matter where he looked, no one seemed quite right. One writer would listen to absolutely everything he said; another wouldn’t listen to anything. One writer never fed him at all; another fed him too much. One writer was just plain too smart; the rest were just plain too stupid.
About the time he was about to give up (not from lack of determination, mind you, but lack of strength for having gone over forty-eight hours without reading), he stumbled across a sight for sore reptilian eyes—a bookstore. Best of all, a “help wanted” sign hung out in front.
After a short chat with the owner, he started his first day on the job as a book salesdino. The temptation to take a bite of all the books was strong, but he managed to keep it under control (mostly), and whatever he chewed on he stuffed out of sight.
Every day, writers would come in, and he directed them to the right books. He would encourage the faint hearted, celebrate with the successful, and ultimately annoy them all. In this sense, he was an assistant to all writers. But still he had a sense of longing to belong to some writer for more than just a day or an hour.
When he had worked at the bookstore for a little over a month, those feelings began to wear off, and he started enjoying his new job. On his second month anniversary of working there, he noticed his bookstore boss packing away some books that weren’t selling. And, of course, Aberdeen couldn’t let him throw away perfectly delicious books, so he offered to take them off his hands, and his boss was more than pleased to give them to him for safe-eating.
On Aberdeen’s lunch break, he waddled outside to see what tasty books he’d been given. Sorting through them, however, he found that most weren’t good for eating. Why couldn’t he at least have disposed of good books? Reaching the bottom of the stack, he noticed a familiar title—the title of Michael’s work-in-progress.
“How dare someone steal our title!” Filled with dinosaurian rage, Aberdeen was ready to stomp on whatever writer had swiped the title, until he realized this was Michael’s book. Apparently he’d decided to publish it without Aberdeen (which was probably why it wasn’t selling). This book could have been amazing with my help. Aberdeen sighed, remembering all the good times they’d had together—how they insulted each other, how Aberdeen would threaten to quit and Michael would threaten to fire him, though neither of them ever carried out those threats, until…
Aberdeen gazed at Michael’ book, rubbing his claw across the poorly designed cover. Jutting his chin out determinedly, he stomped into the streets, abandoning his bookstore job. Through rain, snow, sleet, hail, meteor showers, and too many people, he didn’t stop until he reached Michael’s office.
Aberdeen banged the door open, knocking over a pile of papers that had been blocking the doorway. “Poor guy, can’t keep nothing organized without me around.” Aberdeen tripped over a priceless collection of garbage. The place looked like Michael hadn’t cleaned it since Aberdeen left. Just like a writer to be lazy. Aberdeen grabbed a broom and rehearsed the scolding he’d give Michael when he arrived.
The doorknob jiggled, and Aberdeen stopped sweeping and prepared himself for sitting on Michael the second he stepped through that door. But instead of Michael or Misspell, in stepped Mistake, which was anyone who wasn’t Michael.
“Hey, what are you doing in Michael’s office?” Aberdeen narrowed his eyes, sliding his glasses to the tip of his nose.
“This isn’t his office anymore.” The mistake slid the crumpled papers off the desk and placed his suitcase on top.
“Where does he work now?” Aberdeen crossed his arms.
“Why, that lazy writer! I’ll have to sit on him three weeks before—”
“You can’t sit on him if he’s dead.” The man unhooked his suitcase and started unpacking.
For once in Aberdeen’s life, he didn’t feel like eating a single book. He sat next to Michael’s old desk, peering at all the marks he’d left on it from banging his head. He glanced around the room, then picked up the crumpled pieces of paper and slowly ate each one, letting the words sink into him. If he’d stayed on as his assistant, maybe he could’ve made Michael’s book successful before he died, instead of him passing away in obscurity. Maybe no one would remember Aberdeen, but Michael would have been remembered, and that was what an Authorosaurus was made for.
Aberdeen trudged outside, wandering on for days without munching a single book. He kept eating Michael’s pages since he couldn’t seem to stomach anything else. Before long, the pages ran out and Aberdeen began retyping until each page of Michael’s manuscript was finished. Binding them up, he went from publisher to publisher, searching for anyone who was willing to accept the novel.
But no one would.
By now, you’ve realized that you’ve reached the third plot point of this story, and Aberdeen certainly felt like he was coming to the end of his story. Without Michael, he didn’t know how he could ever help another writer again.
After months of roaming the world, he came to a beach. He sunk into the sand and prepared to bury himself in sorrow, and he would have, had someone else not already been doing it.
Sniff! Sniff! Someone sobbed.
Looking around, he followed the sound of the sniffles, slightly annoyed that someone had interrupted his own. Hiding behind a palm tree with a laptop at her feet, a lady sat hugging her knees and whimpering, “I’ll never write another word again.”
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I know that—why aren’t you writing?”
He looked over her shoulder, skimming her sentences. “Yeah, you’re right.” She broke into another fit of sobbing. Aberdeen couldn’t let her go on like this, or else he could never perish in peace. “Why don’t you try rewriting?”
“I CAN’T DO THAT!” she screeched. “My book may be terrible, but I love it the terrible way it is!” She clutched her laptop, holding it against her.
“Fine. Your book can rot for all I care.” Aberdeen stomped off back to his sandy graveyard and laid there for about an hour, then the lady crawled over and sat next to him.
“I rewrote it.” She scooted the laptop to him.
“Well, now it’s less terrible.” He scooted the laptop back.
She furiously beat the keys for a few hours, then handed it back. “How about this?”
“Now it’s less, less terrible.”
“You surely can’t suggest I rewrite it again?”
“Yes, I can.”
“That’s a stupid idea.”
“Why, thank you. I consider that a compliment!” he told her, and she walked off and beat the keyboard like a drummer who didn’t know how to read music. Just as the sun was setting, she finally finished her drumming and walked back over.
“That isn’t bad,” Aberdeen conceded.
“About time,” she huffed, closing her laptop. “Do you like stubborn writers?”
Aberdeen sighed, thinking about Micheal. Maybe he couldn’t help Michael anymore. But maybe he could help someone else instead. “Yes. Do you like dinosaurs?”
“Yes.” She smiled, resting her head on Aberdeen’s leg as they watched the sun set together.
And that is how Mariposa and I came to be together. I hope you’ve enjoyed our story and all the nutty things we do together. Thank you for joining us in that journey this past year—we appreciate each and every one of you, and this digsite wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me (I got you there, didn’t I?). Please join us back here on June 10th for an amazing announcement and a chance to win some loot!
If I don’t eat it first…