How I Wrote This Story I Sold

14 08 2015

Writing is quite cathartic for me. It’s an outlet I need because I have this depression/anxiety issue that keeps me thinking about mistakes, lost opportunities, painful moments for literally decades.
I discovered that writing about one of these compulsions from multiple points-of-view deflates that compulsion and helps me to move on.
I realized that if I’m going to write it out, then maybe I can sell that story. Something under my bed? Make it pay rent! Har!
Anyhoo, in high school I had a guy who was a suburban white thug. Flannel wearing before grunge was cool, a Deadhead more stoned than mellow (Yep, I was picked on by a Deadhead), there were rumors his father was a cruel man. He was a cruel kid. Pushed me off my speeding bike in the middle of rush hour traffic, among other things.
During my freshman year, I literally thought of this guy every minute I was in school. After freshman year, I thought of him at least once per hour. Friends told me not to take it so hard, to relax, and most of them had their own jerks they were dealing with.
After graduating, I kept looking for him on the internet. Off and on, along with a high school girl I had a crush on, several books I had heard of, a few songs I had heard only once.
It took me a couple of decades before I realized he wasn’t the problem. I was using him to avoid facing other issues, and oh by the way, I needed medication to take the edge off.
I figured he was in jail or detox, living a miserable life.
So one day, I found him (thanks Facebook!). At age fifty, he looked fit. Ripped even. He had two grown kids. One picture had him shaking hands with an older man. The look in the guy’s eyes showed such a relief and vulnerability, the older man had to be his father.
I looked at the other pictures. Looked at the guy’s eyes. I realized that even back in high school, he had such sad eyes. His grown daughter clung to his arm with an air of protectiveness. His son stood with him wearing an air force uniform, their handshake proud. The guy’s eyes still looked sad.
No sign of a wife. Divorced, I guess. Even I didn’t want him to be a widower.
Over those decades, I had fantasized about finding the guy. The older I got, though, I realized that those four years of barbed-wire anxiety had lost their sting. The only pain was me sticking my hand in over-and-over.
I wondered “What would it have taken for me to find him and confront him?”
A terminal illness. A go-for-broke, God-is-as-small-as-me life change where I would call every little slight catalogued in my head to account. “What if I hadn’t wised up?” I wondered. “What if I was still in denial? What could I do to him?”
So I wrote this story of that moment, but from his perspective. The editor didn’t change a word.
 Note the title of my short story.





2 responses

14 08 2015

God you made me feel so bad for that guy. I’m glad you get so much out of your writing though. That’s the way it should be, I think.

15 08 2015

I agree, he’s had it rough. More than anything else, writing has to come from a place of sincere emotion. Your own life is a good place to start, though it can be scary to do that.

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