The other night I went to my square dancing class. It’s held at a local church, and I was waiting outside for the person with the keys to arrive. This gave me time to check out the odd grocery bag that was swaying from the metal railing on the steps which lead to the door. The bag contained two tall cans of malt liquor. These cans were full, and they were ice cold. I wonder—did someone have a conversion on the church doorstep, and resolve to give up drinking then and there? Was it an offering of some sorts, or were they simply stashing the liquor while they went to services or even an AA meeting?
I’ll probably never know the answer, but that’s okay. I am more entertained by the question. Two and a half hours later, when I emerged from class, the cans were still there. I love these little stories, and you can see them all over the place if you’re paying attention. I found prom photos a while back that look like they were from the 1960s. The women had giant beehives, hairdos so thick you could almost smell the Aqua Net coming off the pictures. The men had buzz cuts. What were these photos doing in the street? Had the cute brunette’s high school sweetheart just left her, causing her to toss all memories of him into traffic to ease the betrayal? Perhaps these were treasured mementos which had escaped an overfull box as the happy couple moved onwards towards a new stage in their lives together. Maybe they even came from a closed photography studio, and, having been used as a theater backdrop, they had now drifted into the street while the stage was being struck.
I see these tiny little story seeds everywhere I go. There was the little plastic baby, only about an inch long, wedged into the concrete steps of a former relative’s house. There was the chain attached to a post in a neighbor’s backyard. I’d see it every time I passed, and never heard or saw a dog. Last week I found six matching cowboy hats in the donation area of my apartment building. Sometimes writers tell me that they have no ideas, nothing to write about. I tell them to look around. The universe wants us to tell its story.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
92. Make up a story or poem about one of the items I’ve mentioned above, or go out and collect some of your own story seeds.