Writing isn’t just about creating a world of characters, it’s about creating characters that you could see walking the streets and give a quick “Hello” to on your way to work. Creating a world for them is easy enough, getting their personalities down is the challenge. You try creating a character that you don’t agree with.
I’ll do it right now. Let’s make him a tall feller, right about 6’2” but not heavy-set; slightly below-average weight but certainly not scrawny. He has pale green eyes that just drift past you, as if he doesn’t even know you’re there. He has a deep tan, for him at least, but he looks fairly pale. He has nappy blonde hair that sticks out wherever it may. He also has thick brown eyebrows that look like fuzzy caterpillars. He has peach fuzz and is in need of a shave, you can see lines under his nose and you can tell he does drugs; you need not know what kind. He has heavy bags under his eyes, like he hasn’t slept in months. He speaks with a light New York accent and you can tell he is long from sober.
Let’s thicken the plot.
You’re out on your lunch break taking a stroll through downtown Chicago. You smell fresh pretzels and exhaust from the dense traffic to your right. There are people around you but you don’t care, you just need something to eat; a pretzel will have to do. You only have twenty minutes left on your break and your boss will have your ass if you’re late one more time.
You begin your walk back to your office, a fresh pretzel in hand, when you feel something. Not physically but like someone is staring at you. The hair on the back of your neck standing straight up, you look around; you catch him out of the corner of your eye. You see him and think to yourself, “Where do I know him from?”
You snap back to reality when you realize where you know him from, you read about him. Not in the paper, not online, but from a story. A story she read at work when she finished a big account.
It was a piece that had gotten popular over the past few weeks and now anybody with an e-mail address was getting 5 messages a day about it. The piece was titled “Writing is” and it was by a teenager from a small town in Illinois who only 500 people knew by the name of Garrett Farnum, everyone else only knew him as the teenager who could write like an award winning author. You were lucky enough to be one of the only people to know him as your nephew.
You first read about him in the paper, about how he was able to take an emotion and turn it into something you could feel when you read anything by him. It wasn’t something as simple as anger or happiness, no, it was something more. More than a passion, more than love, like he was exploiting your brain with his thoughts to create a euphoria that was more than just ink on a page, he could make you feel the story with his words.
You feel a chill down your spine as you realize he’s gone, not like he walked away, but like he disappeared. Almost as if he wasn’t there it all. You shake your head as you walk back to work, wondering if what just happened was real.
As you approach your office you see a cop car sitting outside that you’ve never seen before, it’s a state cop too, strange. As you push the hefty door open you see the cop talking to your boss, they both take a glance over at you and your boss points you out. Everything slows down as you see the man you saw earlier walk to behind the officer, turn, and just look at you. You make eye contact that is quickly broken as the burly officer blurts out, “ ‘scuse me ma’am, I need you to come with me.”
You feel life go out of focus, you get dizzy, you reach your arm out but nothing’s there. As you fall over, you feel nothing, you hear nothing, you can barely see life as it fades away from you and you lose all perception of everything.
As you hit the ground you snap back to reality, you’re in the hospital. As you come to your senses you hear the heart monitor beeping rapidly as your heartbeat accelerates. You panic, you attempt to get out of your bed only to realize that your hand is cuffed to it. A nurse comes in and injects you in the arm with something. You feel warm as you drift back asleep.
You awake once more, the large officer asleep at your bedside. You go to get up, only to realize that now both hands are cuffed to your bed forcing you to hardly be able to sit up. As you’re sitting in your bed trying to figure out exactly what’s going on you hear a sentence. A sentence that makes your heart sink, “You’re not going anywhere,” you hear as the officer rises and puts his hat on. He walks to the foot of your bed and glances at his watch, “You got the strangest damn sleep cycle I e’er seen.”
You push yourself away from the cop, you’re afraid. As he speaks, it sends chills down your spine. He says one thing before he leaves the room, something of such little importance that makes you think that it could mean more. “How do you take your coffee?”
“Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be (possibly your roommate, neighbour, co-worker, longest friend, lover, or even a complete stranger) but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints in our hearts,
and We are never, ever the same.
And sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful, and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realised your potential, strength, willpower, or heart. Everything happens for a reason, nothing happens by chance or by means of luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness, and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless. The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience help to create who you become.
Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones.
If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when you open your heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.
Make every day count!! Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free, and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don’t believe in yourself; it will be hard for others to believe in you.
You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets.”
Dear Girl I love,
There’s so much I wish I could say to you, but there is never the time. If only I could wrap my arms around you to have you fall asleep in them, if only we had the moment.
One moment is all I need, one moment to put my arms around your waist while you put yours on my shoulders as we sway around a room, dancing; floating.
When I hug you, my heart feels warm; my entire body swells with passion as I hold you in my arms and for that second, I feel like our spirits are one. Almost as if they pulled us together just to make themselves whole again.
And whilst our souls are one, I’m happy.
But that’s the thing, I’m not only happy when I’m with you. I’m just happy all the time; since we’ve been together I’ve been happier than I ever have before. Whether I was single or dating anyone, I’m significantly happier. You make me happy and that’s all that matters.
But alas, you do not exist; if you do then you are hiding for me as I cannot find you. May the Lord bless my soul as I begin my search for love in this ever-expanding world.
We had to write a narrative for my Humanities English I class, here’s what I wrote. Please give me feedback, any comments would be appreciated!
“Forever and Always
I remember the exact moment when I locked eyes with her; looking at her I could see so much in her beautiful blue eyes. Seeing her from across the sea of people that was the families of my friend Chris, it felt like all I could focus on was her, like we were the only two people in the world. I could do nothing but stare at her and be dazed by her beauty while I was standing there until Chris shouted my name. “Garrett!” he beckoned while waving me over, “I want you to meet my cousin, Jessica.” I casually and as smoothly as I could walked over to where they were standing, only to stumble over the edge of the sidewalk and almost trip. I quickly gathered my bearings and approached them. She was so stunningly beautiful this close I had to remind myself not to drool, multiple times. As we stood there talking, I couldn’t help but smile. Right there, standing in front of me, was a girl who shared the same exact views as me and I had never met her. I turn to Chris and ask him “Where have you been keeping this girl?” A good laugh was exchanged throughout the three of us, when he steps me off to the side and tells me “I was waiting for the right time. Since the day I met you, I knew you and her would meet, the only reason I didn’t want you to meet her when you could have was because you weren’t mature enough. I didn’t want you to treat her like one of the girls you have a fling with and then just throw away. You need to be ready to have a real relationship with her.” I stood there, dumbfounded by the fact I had just been blind-sided by my own emotions. I must have gone through a hundred facial expressions while I was thinking until finally words were able to escape my throat. “Thank you.” I said, with the immediate thought afterwards of, “Thank you? That’s all you could think of?” Needless to say, I quickly shook those thoughts and re-joined the conversation only thinking about what would, what could become of us.
Later that night, I was sitting down to a cup of tea when I heard a knock on my front door. It was Jessica and Chris, I was exhausted from a long day but needless to say I welcomed them into my home with open arms. I showed them around my house and we ended up in my room, Jessica was fascinated with my décor choice (anybody would if you saw a skyline painted on a wall and musical instruments/photos littering the floor) Chris flops down, sinking into the bean bag chair stashed away in the corner and says “Man, we’ve made a lot of memories in this room.” He starts stroking the wall with the back of his fingers tenderly, “I remember when I kicked over your strobe light and caused this,” There were burn marks on the wall where the strobe light had been. “You know Jessica lives out in Portage, right by Cascade Mountain.”
“Oh really?” I replied, “We’ll have to go skiing up there more often. I mean, seeing you and skiing in the same day? It’s like the perfect day.” She smiled and sat down on the recliner in my room, and asked if I could join her. I put my arm around her and Chris put on a Frank Sinatra record that was lying out and the only thing I could think was, “Wow, this moment is perfect,” and the only thing that could make this moment even more perfect happened. She started singing along. She put her head on my shoulder and I rested my head on top of hers. Chris grabs my camera and takes a picture, that picture is the only thing I have on my dresser. A picture of a perfect moment, the only picture of her and I together.
Months pass, I visit her every few weekends and she visits me when I can’t. I go watch her play softball, she comes and sees me play at the local cafés on open mic night, we were making a long distance relationship work and I was happy. I was the happiest I’ve ever been, it’s a funny thing how amazing life is when you’re happy. You feel like nothing can bring you down, then life decides to take that as a challenge.
I get a call at 11:36 P.M. on 8/6/11 from Chris; I still have it saved in my phone. I answer with my usual cheery “AAAAAAAAYYYYYYY Chris! How’s it going?” Expecting a cheery response back, I wait. Nothing, he sighs and says, “Jessica.” I’m confused, “What about her?” There’s a pause, “Chris, what about Jessica?” I’m getting irritated. I can hear him take a deep breath, there’s a quiver in it; he’s crying. “She was on her way down to DeKalb to surprise you, her car got T-boned at an intersection, she’s…she’s in critical condition,” My heart sinks. I lose my breath; the whole world feels like it’s spinning around me. I feel a tear run down my face, before I know it my vision is blurred from the tears pouring out of my eyes. I hear Chris on the other line, “Garrett, we need to go see her.” I gather myself, “I’ll be ready in five.”
I grab a duffel bag; I throw a couple extra sets of clothes in it and grab my guitar. Chris pulls in my driveway as I pull my shoes on. I run down my front steps and get in his car. We made eye contact and we both knew how tonight was going to go down. The ride there was silent, no talking, no music, just the hum of the tires driving along the pavement. We get to the hospital she’s at, at 3:27. We burst in the front door; the nurse at the front desk tells us “Visiting hours are OVER.” Chris shoots her a death glare and says, “You’re letting us in to see my cousin, her name’s Jessica. She’s in critical condition,” There was a pause; Chris lowered his voice, “The doctors don’t think she’ll make it the night. That’s her boyfriend over there; they don’t have some little middle school relationship. She’s the love of his life. If you don’t give us her room number we’ll find it ourselves.” At this point I’ve found a seat in a very uncomfortable chair, I glanced up as their little conversation ended and I can feel the tension between them. The nurse gives us her room number, “East 326” We’re gone before she can even give us directions.
I remember walking up to her door and thinking “I can’t do this; I can’t see her like this.” I feel a hand on my shoulder; Chris was standing over me with tears in his eyes, “We can do this,” he says, “we need to do this.” I grip the handle on the door; the feeling of the brushed metal is cool on my sweaty, nervous hands. I open the door and make eye contact with her mother who’s sitting next to the bed. She wipes a tear from her eye and stands up; she walks over and hugs me. “It’s going to be okay,” I assure her. Chris enters behind me and convinces them to go home, he leaves as well so we can be alone. I assume the seat her mother was in and I pick up her hand. I can feel a gentle pulse as I embrace her hand in mine. She was unconscious and had gauze wrapped around her entire body, I take a deep breath and start talking.
“I don’t know if you can hear me but I’m going to talk anyway because I know you’re in there somewhere. Ever since I’ve met you I’ve known about something but I’ve never had the guts to tell you.” I gently bring her hand closer to myself, “I love you, I always will. You’re the only girl I’ve ever had this connection with and I’ve been happier these past couple months than I’ve ever been. I’m so glad I met you, you’ve done nothing but make my life better.” The room stands in silence, not an awkward silence, but a peaceful one. I stand up and kiss her gently on the forehead, she squeezes my hand. My heart dropped and I could do nothing but smile and cry. I sat in the chair next to her bed for the entire night. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat. I did nothing but sit in that chair, hold her hand, and think about what was to come of this.
It was early in the morning, around 5:30 when it happened. The single event that changed my life forever, I could hardly hold my eyes open when I heard it. “Ahem!” I nearly jumped out of my chair, she was awake! I had a huge grin on my face but she kept the same expression and started to cry. She took a breath and said, “Garrett I heard what you said last night. I need you to know I feel the same way. I love you, but I’m not going to win this. I don’t know when it’s going to come, but when it does I’m just going to let go.” My heart dropped, she continued “I want you to live your life like I’m right there with you, because I will be. I’ll always love you and after this it’s in the Lord’s hands.” I nodded, at this point we were both crying. I take both of her hands and we reminisce about all the good times we had. We talked for almost two hours when she stopped me and said, “It’s time.” The smile quickly faded from my face as I stood up. I leaned over her and I kissed her one last time. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Forever and always,” I squeezed both of her hands tight and her heart stopped. I sat in that chair for the next three hours, holding her hands; I didn’t cry, I didn’t sleep, and I didn’t talk. The only thing I did was send a single text message to Chris, saying; “She’s gone.”
I made a tumblr