I sort of want to write fiction, but here's the hard part: coming up with ideas. Or so I thought. Today, however, I had the afternoon off of school, and as I did the kinds of things that one does when one has an afternoon off -- ate at Chipotle, shopped for pants, visited a pumpkin patch -- I was met with a barrage of people and situations that, were I so inclined, could become the subjects of great stories. Examples:
1. A high school-age girl walking with a noticeable limp, inexplicably wearing a mini-skirt and high-heeled sandals. She had clearly sustained an ankle injury -- I'm going to say at volleyball practice -- but I'll be damned if that was going to stop her, on this Thursday morning, from looking like she was trying to sneak into a Crystal Lake club on a Saturday night.
2. A 30-year-old dude at Meijer pumping quarters into one of those games where you try to get a stuffed animal with a claw. He was alone, and he was there for a least as long as it took me to go in, find a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times, pay for it, and leave. In his defense, he may have been trying for the stuffed football.
3. A silver Volkswagen Jetta flipped upside-down in the middle of Hwy. 173. Probably, this would not be a funny story.
4. An interaction between a mother and her 7-or-so-year-old son at the pumpkin patch that went something like this:
MOTHER: You can go down the slide one more time. Then we're leaving.
SON: Two more times.
MOTHER: One more.
SON: (giggling) Three more times.
MOTHER: That's it. We're done. Come on.
SON: No -- you said one more.
MOTHER: Nope. You had your chance. Get down now.
SON: I'm going one more time.
MOTHER: I'm leaving. If you want to come with me, you'll come now. Otherwise, I'm leaving you here.
At this point, she turned and left without looking back. In this story, the boy groaned and ran after her. In my story, he would spend the night.
5. An old black woman wearing an Army coat and rolling her own cigarettes on the park bench outside the Woodstock Public Library.
6. Uncle Jesse from Full House fighting with Cousin Larry Appleton's boss from Perfect Strangers in a hospital. Oh, wait -- actually, that was a preview for E.R.
So here's the premise for my first novel: A boy is left at a pumpkin patch by his mother because he insists on going down the slide too many times. While they're closing things up for the night, three pumpking patch workers find the boy hiding in the giant caterpillar. The three workers -- an elderly black woman with emphysema who shops at the Army-Navy surplus store, a young man with a vast collection of stuffed footballs, and a high school girl with weak ankles and low self-esteem -- decide that they'll take him home. (Naturally, they all carpool to work togeher.) On the way home, they find a Volkswagen Jetta overturned on the side of the road and work together to save the car's occupants, an older gentleman with a sarcastic, curmudgeonly personality and a young musician with great hair who often says things like, "Have mercy." Sounds like a winner, no?