Characters

I took an intro to creative writing class with Sidney Offit a few years ago. He gave us an assignment. “Write the first chapter of the story of your life.”

A student asked, “Does it have to be real?”

Sidney shrugged. “You are all characters to me.”

There is: a man on the first floor that comes out in the afternoons to do tai chi. A woman who always forgets to get the clothes off the line when it rains. The guitar-player with the raspy voice. The small yappy dog that likes to chew on shoes. A cattle dog that gets baths in a tin tub. A mom and a newborn who sleep together in a hammock. An older woman with dyed red hair who still wears her puffy winter coat when she comes out to feed the stray cats. An elderly man who suns without his shirt on. The brothers who kick a soccer ball that rails the chain-linked fence. The neighbors who had a party last night and played all of the top forty hits and drew ire from a fourth floor resident. A bird that tries to land on a bush but finds the branches too frail to hold it.

And there’s me at the kitchen window every morning, writing, (these days) listening to Beethoven’s 7th, hoping to be, privileged to be, one of your characters.

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