I don’t know what it is about November and the Muse, but I wish I had the magic potion to hold on to it long after Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if November’s creativity is triggered by my love affair with NanoWrimo (National Novel Writing Month), or if it has anything to do with most of my deadlines and launches with school publications wrapping up in late October. If I look back to my daybooks from the 80’s and 90’s, though, I think I’ll find that, historically, my words have flowed more easily in these 30 days than in any other stretch during the year.
I came across three incidents yesterday that, for each, lasted no more than 15 seconds. In that brief time, my overactive muse created scenarios of each of those incidents. What follows are the three things I saw and the stories that my muse spun almost instantly. Which do you think has the most potential for a longer story? If I get more than 10 votes for any one of them, I’ll develop it fully and post it here before the end of the month….
1. 6:57 a.m. After I drop off Holland at the gym for her morning practice, I head home along the back roads through Lutherville to Towson, when I see three girls walking along the road, toward me in the oncoming lane.
The sleepover had not gone as they had planned, not by a long shot. When Kristin and the others decided yesterday afternoon to invite Ryanne and her friend from Roland Park, Elyse, they knew the night would not be a typical movies-till-3 a.m. event. Ryanne and Elyse always pushed the party beyond the typical teen boundaries. Sometimes they brought a flask of Southern Comfort to share, and other nights they brought along a few other “guests” who would wait in the woods until after Kristin’s parents were asleep. But now, as they walked in silence along Ridgely Avenue, the rising sun stealing what little edge there was to the early chill, each wondered if Ryanne and Elyse would ever be seen again–dead or alive.
2. 5:23 p.m. On our way to Cafe Hon (but still in our own neighborhood), we see a tall, 20-something gentleman running at a fast pace through the gates of Goucher College’s campus, across our street, and along the sidewalks until he reaches Goucher Boulevard. He stops, looks behind him, and rests his hands on his knees to catch his breath. It seems like he has been running for some time.
Seth glanced over his shoulder as he took a moment to breathe. Had the traffic not been so busy along Goucher Boulevard, he undoubtedly would have kept running, straight across the street and up along the quiet street on the other side until he passed out. Were they still close behind? Had they given up? Or had they not seen him at all? He couldn’t get her eyes out of his mind–eyes struck with terror as she pleaded for her life on the very trail he walked nearly every day. Two older girls had stood over the other, their backs to Seth. His natural instinct was to help, of course. To break up whatever little ritual was going on and save the girl. But the sun seeped through the thinning trees and found the knife’s blade. The taller of the two played with it behind her back, balancing it loosely between two fingers as if it were nothing more than a twig picked up along the way. Seth had gasped, and when the pleading girl’s eyes dropped to his, he ran. Now, as he looked back along Squires Road to the gates at Goucher’s back entrance, he wondered if it was too late to save her. He turned back to the busy boulevard. The traffic had ceased between lights, and he had a clean shot of making it to the other side. His life or hers? He took a deep breath, stood tall, and acted on his decision–one that ultimately would change his life forever.
3. 7:31 p.m. We have just left Cafe Hon and are on our way to Fell’s Point. We exit 83 South and sit at the traffic light, waiting to turn left on to Eastern Avenue. On the far left corner is an office building, dark with just two rooms on the third floor that remain dimly lit. A silhouette of a thin woman moves about, heading toward the second, adjoining room. The light turns green, and we head to our final destination, Mr. Yogato’s.
Rose lay on the couch. The cool cloth she had placed on her forehead an hour ago was now barely damp and fixed at room temperature. Her head still pounded, the anxiety never abating since she read his status update on Facebook: “Back in B-more to get what’s mine.” She did not know where to go, what to do. He would first go back to the house to find her. She was sure of that, especially with it getting dark so early. And he would most likely wait there until she came home. Probably inside. She never thought it necessary to change the locks. Now, inside the office where she was a corporate hero for Bergen and Brown Associates, the fear of her past finally caught up with her, and she could feel the safety of her last haven on earth slipping away, out of her control, and into the hands of a man she swore she would never see again. She slides her legs off the couch and sits up, the blood rushing from her head, and she feels dizzy. She stands and heads to the sink to cool her cloth one more time, when she hears the doorknob to the adjoining office rattle. She freezes, listens intently to the sounds through the thin walls, and hears the faint whisper. “Ro-ose. . . .” It is her ex-husband, and he has found her. Trapped in the corner office on the third floor of Bergen and Brown, she is no longer a hero to anybody. She moves toward the door, stops at the supply drawer and removes a letter opener. In many ways she feels sorry for him. His last status update on Facebook will need to be updated soon that he got what he deserved, and she can’t, to save her own life, think of what it might be. . . .
Which do YOU think I should finish?