It was probably like four in the morning.  I’d finished coloring this strip.  I uploaded it into the queue.

And, frankly, I just bawled.

I bawled and bawled.  Alone, with myself and my murder.  And it wasn’t just Dina’s murder.  I’d murdered an important part of myself.  That’s what I’d done here and there, you see.  I found parts of myself that I hated, or which frightened me, and I put them in characters and tried to work through it, and sometimes they’d have to end up dead.  Like Ruth.  With Ruth, I was murdering my depression.  With Dina, I was murdering… I guess myself.  My fear of not being good at anything.  My fear of other people hating me.  My fear of uselessness.  Every social anxiety I had, I wrapped up in Dina and then put her in a box you could see through, had her take off her hat just this one time, and had her kasplode.  PROBLEM SOLVED.

Earlier, when I’d decided to try to pull this off, I noted that Ruth’s death was a happy one.  It was cathartic.  She died with a smile, doing something heroic, and it was a turning point.  A moment of understood salvation.  But I wanted a sad one.  A sad death.  I wanted to try sticking the knife in and twisting it.

WELL MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, I GUESS, I thought, as I sobbed to myself in the dark in my room.

I emailed T Campbell in those wee hours of the morning.  I didn’t give him specifics, but I told him that I’d done a thing in my story, and it made me cry.  Was this weird?  Was something wrong with me?  And he answered back at some point the next morning, expediently once he’d woken up, since he is a good friend.  And he reassured me best he could.  He didn’t know what I’d done, but he did his best to tell me that crying isn’t a crime or anything.  It just means I’m invested.  Probably a good sign?  Like, congratulations, you have empathy.

As of this strip, my buffer was a month long.  At the time, it was the longest my buffer had ever been, and it would not be this long again until Dumbing of Age.  But that month finally passed, and T read this strip, same as everybody else, and I remember him saying … (paraphrased, obviously) “I didn’t think you would do THAT.  Dina was the heart of your strip.  Dina is obviously the heart of you.  That was… that was a thing.”  Or, tl;dr: “Jesus fuck, dude.”

That month’s buffer of strips, I waited it out.  I didn’t draw anything that month.  I couldn’t bear to.

I’d broken myself.