I don’t know where my writing comes from. I really don’t. I used to do comedy improv on stage, and I never knew what I was going to do on stage before I went out before the audience. I was always surprised, and often shocked. That is how I feel now with the prompted writing from Main Street Writers. How do we all come up with such different stories from the same prompt? I’ll admit that this piece left everyone in the room stunned, myself included.
Write down the name of the song going through your head
Create a character that hears this song
Create the action they are going through related to the song.
I hummed along with the TV, knowing that the theme song from Rocky and Bullwinkle would be there for the duration of vacuuming and probably well into the laundry. Why the hell had I left that channel on? Will was outside playing in the sandbox and was totally oblivious. I had work that needed to get done, and Frank wouldn’t be home for another two hours. I strode over and killed the TV. Just like the bumper sticker said. Finally, silent bliss.
I peeked out the window to check on Will and headed upstairs to collect the week’s worth of laundry that always seemed to take longer to wash than it took to wear. Frank was actually the one who donated the most to the laundry pile. He insisted on a clean pair of pants every day, and the thought of wearing a shirt twice would send him to the emergency room with symptoms of a stroke. I had learned early on in our relationship that Frank was Frank and there was no discussion of how, where, when and even if Frank would live his life. He was good to me, and doted on Will, so I had no complaints.
I scooped up Will’s handful of clothes, checked under the bed for strays, and schlepped down to the laundry room. As I sorted, I heard Will carrying on a conversation with his imaginary friend Mr. Bump. The two were inseparable. Literally. Mr. Bump had lived a very real life in Will’s imagination for three of his five years. The conversation out in the back yard had become heated.
“Don’t put it there, Mr. Bump. I can’t reach it if it’s so far away, and we’re supposed to share.”
“Okay, Silly Willy, here.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. That wasn’t Will. I could feel the panic set in as I headed out of the laundry room and over to the window. Looking out, I saw Will sitting alone in the middle of the sandbox, running a dump truck back and forth through the dirty sand and over all of the plastic army guys he had dumped there.
This was the first time I had heard Mr. Bump speak in the three years of his existence.
“Will?” I tried to keep the tremor out of my voice. “How are you doing out there? Is everything okay?”
Will looked up and smiled over toward me. “I’m fine, Mommy,” he said. “Do you want to come out and play with me and Mr. Bump?”
Everything seemed fine. Maybe it was a hallucination. “I have to do the wash, but I’ll be out as soon as it’s in.” Will bowed his head and went back to work.
I had the clothes in the washing machine and was adding soap when I heard the voice again.
“Hey, do you want to see something?”
Will’s little voice came through the window.
“Sure, what is it?”
That wasn’t Will. I had no idea of what was going on, but that wasn’t my Will. I ran through the house, wrestled the slider open and ran across the deck toward the sandbox. I couldn’t see my son. The truck was there, tipped on its side. Army guys were scattered around. There, on one triangular corner seat was a folded piece of paper. I snatched it up and scanned the yard for Will.
“Will! Where are you! I told you not to leave the yard!”
I glanced down at the paper in my hand. In neat flowing script that didn’t come from the hand of a five year old was written “Gone on an adventure. Be right back.”
It was the neighbor who said she heard my screams. She called the police, and came running from across the street. In the hospital she seemed concerned for me. I didn’t know why she wasn’t out with everyone else looking for my Will.
Five years later, I still don’t remember anything after reading the note. Just the sound of a voice that wasn’t my son.