We are in a restaurant. I am about to make a comment to my friend when, out of the usual hum of dining experience, comes a very harsh voice. It hits me like a splintery 2x4 to my neck, just under my ear.
It is a woman in her 30s. She sits at a round table with three of her friends, each tending one of their children. I think to myself that the children will never know what it means to have an inside voice by this woman’s example—but surprisingly, they are more subdued than she.
I mention the splintered wood comment to my friend and she laughs…and then cannot get the woman’s voice out of her head. She had been blocking it by some powerful mechanism that surprised me, but now, thanks to my comment, she is locked on and cannot break free.
We both wince as the woman blurts out a question to her friends—who seem oblivious to her shrapnel.
I am now amused my friend cannot take her mind from the sound.
In all this, I notice one child of theirs, a little girl holding a small magnifying glass in her small hands. She wiggles herself off her chair and away from the table. Slowly. She glances at the women from time to time to see if they notice her, and then, when all is clear, dips down to investigate something under the chair with her magnifying glass.
She doesn’t tarry long. She’s clearly done this before and seems to know just when to pop back up so the women at the table don’t grow concerned.
A curious, individual spirit.
Right there in front of everyone.
The grating woman’s loud voice cuts the air again. And again. She is from the South, and we all know her family history now. We know her opinions on several subjects.
And the curious little spirit slips away to investigate her environment.
In this, I find an intimate connection to a character in one of my stories. My mind immediately flares to life creating my character’s childhood. Not quite what I have described here, but it was a trigger. My character has a much harsher childhood.
I hope this child only has the harsh sound of her friend’s mother as her worst experience. Who knows what she will find with her magnifying lens.
I found a character’s childhood with mine.