Yoda dog blanketed in a forestMy phone rang, and “The Inquisitive One” appeared on the screen.

“Hey you!” I said, upon answering.

“Hey Liza!” said the inquisitive one. “I’m calling because I’m concerned about something, and I want to discuss it with you. Do you know?—people keep saying you and I are the same person!”

“Oh, well, it happens,” I said. “Honestly, I’m flattered when they think that.”

“Well, I’m not. Plus, it bothers me. It’s as if they think I don’t exist!”

“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve explained to several people that you and I are different. Hopefully word will get around!”

“Thanks, Liza! But why do people sometimes think we’re the same person?”

“Hmm. I guess I learned that in college. None of the characters in a work of fiction should be confused with the author. Not even when there’s a narrator using the word I to describe him- or herself. And not even when it’s an autobiographical story with a protagonist with many similarities to the author.”

“Oh yeah—I learned that in college, too! So, when the author Tim O’Brien uses the word I in the short story collection The Things They Carried, these narrators should not be confused with O’Brien himself, even though the narrators experience many of the same things O’Brien did during and after the Vietnam War!”

“And the character Ivan Denisovich experiences many of the same things the author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did when he was imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, but not everything mentioned in the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich matches Solzhenitsyn’s actual history and memories!”

“And when the foreword to the novel The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux details evidence that the opera ghost really existed, this claim is not being made by Leroux, but by the fictional narrator!”

“Actually,” I observed, “that one’s a bit more complicated.”

“In any case,” said the inquisitive one, “please continue spreading the word. I really—”

“Hold on a sec,” I said, staring out the window at a flying saucer coming to a gentle landing on my front lawn. As I kept watching, the door slid open.

“Oh my gosh!” I cried out. “Three little green aliens are walking on my lawn!”

“What?” said the inquisitive one. “Wait, that’s super interesting to me, because—”

“I’ll call you back,” I said, hung up my phone, and ran outside.

“Take us to your leader!” said the little green aliens.

“Okay,” I said, “but I don’t know where Lady Gaga lives!”

“Take us to your leader!” said the little green aliens.

“Okay, follow me,” I cried, hopping into my car and thinking like crazy and realizing—

But that’s another story.

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