Five years ago, I didn’t know I was a writer. I just thought I had a fertile imagination, and then one day I looked at a picture of my granddaughter on my fridge and imagined her carrying my little dog down the hallway. I wrote the beginning of But the Children Survived, and sent it to my friend Loraine, who was a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel. She was shocked. She asked me how long I had been writing like that, and I said that this was the first time. She told me to keep writing. I published the book in 2012 and have written many since. If you’ve ever wondered if you’re a writer, read this.
I went to dinner with my husband, Hans. A family walked in – a man, his wife, and their young daughter. The wife wasn’t beautiful, her body bears the shape and weight of a past pregnancy, and when she and her daughter went to the bathroom, an image of the husband came to me. He’s at a bar, sitting alone, and having a beer when this hot little number sidles up and asks him to buy her a drink. He’s a regular guy – overweight, wearing the same clothes he wore in high school, wearing a short hairstyle that’s easy to care for – so he’s all excited when this young, sexy woman talks to him. After she chats him up, he follows her to the men’s room where, while he’s kissing her neck, she sticks a needle in his. It’s filled with a drug that will render him unconscious. She makes a phone call and leaves him there.
Back to reality: By now, the guy’s wife and daughter have returned to the table. Hans and I
are talking about having the grandkids over for a
couple of days and in my mind, I’ve got the guy hogtied in the back of an SUV
on his way to the hospital. There, the bimbo-from-the-bar's father is waiting for a lung transplant.
Her boyfriend, a not-too-smart guy with a thick neck and a strong back, takes bathroom
guy into the hospital and leaves him on a
gurney. The girl, now dressed as a nurse, takes him to the OR where a team is waiting to extract his lung.
Back to reality: The couple has ordered, and the waitress brings their drinks. Hans is saying he can’t finish his meat, and I tell him to get a box. While we’re talking, I’m imagining a doctor opening up
chest and finding out that he has stage four lung cancer. There will be no
transplant today. The End.
We pay our check and get up to leave. The couple and their daughter are eating, and as we pass their booth, they are unaware of the precarious situation in which I have placed the husband / father, nor
if the irony surrounding his tragic end. Hans
and I go home and he puts his take-home box in the fridge.
I was the type of kid who, when I couldn’t fall asleep, would imagine my bed was riding on the waves of the ocean. I would plan how I would survive or when an island would come into view, or when the plane would spot me and save me. The images never stopped. Ever. So if this sounds familiar to you, if this is what you do while carrying on a conversation with your spouse, friends, co-workers, or you find yourself constructing an elaborate tale while waiting in traffic, odds are you’re a writer, too.