Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Conversation In A Parking Lot
by Bruce Lucas
She walks along side of me as we leave the workshop, telling me about her novel and how well it's all coming together. She's loaded down with manuscripts, reference material, and her purse. She's excited about making a breakthrough in her writing. We get to my car. She doesn't say goodnight; she stays and continues to talk. I try to keep up with her plot, characters, relationships, and twists. She is brilliant. I wonder how she can keep it all organized. I accept the fact that I will have a one-way conversation and patiently listen to her.
Finally she stops. She looks away from me and is lost in thought. It gives me a chance to study her. It was warm today but she's wearing a loose, flowing outfit that covers her body completely except for her hands, feet and head. I glance at the way it hides her breasts and hips, and think she is trying to conceal herself. I study her face. She looks tired and I can tell that her mind is always working, racing, never giving her a chance to rest. Just like mine.
I ask her, "Where do you find all the time?
She smiles, "I just write as much as I can, whenever I can."
"How much sleep are you getting?"
She stares at me for a few seconds. "About three or four hours a night."
We keep on talking but I've been here for twenty minutes and my wife is expecting me. I walk over to the driver's door, lean against it and listen for a few more minutes. I wait for a pause and wish her a happy Fourth of July. As I turn the car to leave, I see her in the beams of my headlights getting into her car.
Six months ago, she decided I was a safe person to tell her story. We were the only two who showed up for a "Lets get together and talk about writing" meeting at a restaurant. She told me about the abuse she had suffered at her father's hands and how hard life had been. I don't know if she confides in other people or how many times she has done this in the past.
Today, I think I can feel her suffering and wantd to hold her as you would hold a grieving child. I can feel it right underneath her skin, though she continues to talk as if she has never confided in me. I wish I could reach out and relieve the pain, touch her, absorb it all, and make her free. I wish I could do the same for my sister.
Later, I hope she doesn't think it was sharing her story with me that precipitated my absence from our future get-togethers. But it was. My novel is about an abused girl and I started it before I met her. The next six weeks in this workshop will be very hard for me.
Bruce Lucas, writing from the St. Louis area, is an electrical engineer who started writing about three years ago: first memoirs, then fiction and non-fiction. He's completed two short stories, "Camelot" and "Lost at Sea," and is working on a novel, "A Year for Kristine."
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