I have a character, and, like most, she just sort of showed up. But now she lies dormant and I ache for her to return. I think about her but can’t rouse the crazy old bat – even now when there’s plenty of time to spend on the computer.
I know Olvie lives alone. It’s the 1960’s and she takes up space in a small house just outside the old freedom town of Clarksville in Austin, Texas. She tries to fix her hair Marilyn Monroe-style but it comes out looking like Sally’s on the Dick Van Dyke show.
Olvie hates calling telephone numbers that contain a zero. Takes too damn long for the rotary dial to circle all the way back to its starting position. And the rabbit ears on her Magnavox don’t work to satisfaction until 10:00 a.m. when Let’s Make a Deal airs.
Until she chunked old Singer out the window, Olvie used to be a card carrying member of the Sewing Guild. She does, however, still have a license to check out books should she have the hankering to stare at words instead of the boob tube.
A real visitor might enter her house and think they have stepped into the Twilight Zone. Mannequin Gladys, wearing her flapper dress, stares out the window. Half-torsoed Fritz wears the top portion of a lederhosen and precariously balances on the television.
When she encounters the poor soul walking past her house, she poke, poke, pokes his chest, asks if she can spit on his shoes, then adds, “it won’t take long.”
Returning inside, she kicks off her duck slippers and does a quick “shuffle off to Buffalo” to impress Gladys and Fritz. They are catatonically dazzled by her performance.
Dear Olvie, please come back so I can plunk your words and actions down on a keyboard. Get in my face, spit on my shoes if you want. Just show up again.
I haven’t worked with photoshop in a long time. Starting over was NOT like riding a bicycle. But I did it, albeit in a slow, Carolyn fashion. As most of you know, I am currently writing my fourth novel set in 1963. As my dad used to say, it’s a booger-bear. So, writing children’s books gives me a breath of fresh air. (Yes, I go to sleep rhyming, then pull out my hair.)
Here’s a sample of my latest. It is a reminder for children to keep their imaginations open and active as they listen to a Grandma tell her granddaughter about a magical place.
As always, dear writers, the ones with the blocks,
Note: Don’t tell her you don’t believe. She hates it when creativity is stifled.
She started out as a mere, mealy book worm.
She has read ALL of your work and she waits for more. She lives in her heaven beneath the earth surrounded by tunnels and tunnels of shelves filled with writings from authors, books of all genres from every year. When the others around her noticed this magnitude, they had declared her Worm-God.
At night, she listens. She hears the crumpling of paper, the slam of a laptop, the author’s piercing whine.
She ascends. She is careful. She waits until you nod off, then wiggles imperceptibly between your fingers and leaves a residue of inspiration. When she is finished, she returns below.
The next morning, you rise, pour a cup of coffee or tea, check emails. You pop your knuckles and begin.
Deep below, Worm-God makes room for your new book. As she waits, she smiles.
By the way, she will also nudge you into sending off your manuscript.
Where was she, my precious girl who stood by my side village after village? Who filled me with such light!? Such color!? Now, my trustworthy companion, my leader, had left my side.
Hours, perhaps days later, I heard the distinct and distant sound of her honk. It lifted me from the cold ground and my feet followed where my ears lead.
A swirling fog of color engulfed me as if I were trapped inside a tube of colored glass. My arms flailed and, clearing the fog from my vision, I happened upon an old wooden bridge. I hesitated, but only for a brief moment. Goose’s honk continued calling me forward.
On the other side of the bridge, my body became heavy and light at the same time. My eyes were drawn to a beautifully welded lamppost reaching toward the stars and alive with a small, enticing flame.
At the post’s base stood a bald man of abbreviated stature. How curious he was! With one eye, he stared in his hand-held mirror’s reflection and seemed to look behind him with one eye, while staring forward at me with the other.
My hand cramps and I must stop. Not from fatigue, but sadness. How can a great storyteller lose her voice, her color, her light, her purpose in life? Because I, like the rest of you, are fools. Although we would like to believe otherwise, she is not immortal.
The goose-feathered quill quivers on my desk and pleads for me to continue. I pick it up and point the nib to the fine parchment and allow it to take control.
I had been walking both old and new countryside for so many years that, whenever I chanced upon a pond’s reflection, I scarcely recognized myself. The lines in my face became more abundant. My once beautiful auburn hair was laced with coarse gray. Even my thoughts became barren as if poured out of a once beautiful and ornate decanter.
And, my sweet Goose. Her feathers were also withering as if in sorrowful response to my countenance. Or, perhaps, I withered in response to her feather’s atrophy. Who is to say? And which answer matters?
Remorsefully, feeling I had little if nothing left to give, I finished a brief story then left the crowd of villagers awaiting more.
I am unsure as to whether Goose followed me, or I her. But my heart says it was the later. We continued to wander and the further we traveled, the more my footsteps played a sorrowful tune. Needing rest, I discovered a large rock to serve as my pillow. I laid my weary body and soul on the crisp, dying grass and watched as Goose pecked around for silverweed and clover roots before she settled beside me.
Hours, perhaps day later, I awakened to find the empty space beside me where Goose had last been.