Being a writer means that you constantly wonder about “what happens behind the story?” Instead of taking something at face value you find yourself wondering what on earth could cause certain events to play out the way they do?
I found myself doing this recently when I passed a young couple on the street in front of the coffee shop. The man was obviously trying to comfort the decidedly angry woman. “I’m sorry,” he said to her trying to hold her in an embrace “I’m sorry that I got stomach cancer.”
Wow. What a story there was in that very short interplay. What, I thought, would cause someone to apologize for having a terminal illness. Rightly or not, I started assigning some pretty selfish characteristics to the woman. She thought only of herself, she was weak and needed to be comforted. She didn’t care about anything but how she would be affected by this event. Soon she would be left alone. Not a comforting situation.
A bit harsh. Well then what if she was a young mother? Perhaps they had just gotten married and she either already had a child or a child was on the way? Maybe that child had a physical disability. Wouldn’t it be conceivable that her anger was for their child, how he would be cared for and what he would miss without his father nearby?
Would that be a sufficient reason for a person with a disease that was surely going to end his life to apologize for having it?
Or maybe it was that the man who was the one who needed the comforting, after all, he’s going to die. Perhaps he was making atonement for his sins of neglect to her apologizing and asking for a do-over? Please?
Or perhaps it was just that next week’s chemo-therapy appointment would mean that they would miss the next Red Socks game down in Boston. Damn, life can sometimes be so unfair.
I entered the coffee shop to get my latte and when I came back out they were both gone. I’m sure that someday I’ll be seeing them again as characters somewhere in my writing.
How could I not? They simply had so much to say.
Photo Credit: bjorn giesenbauer
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).
And who knows? If I can work a chicken in, maybe someday I’ll write that story about a missed baseball game.