I found myself eating those words as I sat in the waiting room of an overcrowded doctor's office and no inspiration was forthcoming. Across from me the constant dings and rings of an online game distracted me. I looked up and met the bland gaze of a middle-aged woman who then returned to the game on her blackberry with all the outward enthusiasm of a child who has been told to finish off their least favourite vegetable. Then a phone began ringing and she set the device aside to pull another mobile from her overstuffed purse. When I looked up next, the game was dinging away and she was texting with methodical fury. Somewhere in the back of my mind a bell rang and a voice recorded the single word "character".
Nearby a man sported a bandage across half his face and a scowl that threatened that he might not be adverse to creating a matching wound on someone elses face. Beside me a woman avidly read her magazine, yet she never turned the page. Another point to ponder. Of course you can only ponder such things for so long. So I turned to the mystery of my thirty word story. Five minutes, one notepad and a complimentary pen later - no where near the word count. I'm shocked. This was supposed to be a breeze. I figured I'd have four or five stories to choose from by the time the wait was over.
So back to the story. I remind myself that writing a thirty word story before leaving the unending waiting room is doable. And there was Ernest Hemingway's clever little story for inspiration.
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Ernest HemingwayAnd if he could do it... wait - Hemingway? Who am I kidding? But I tell myself that his was a story in six words, I have twenty-three more to play with, definitely much easier than six. So I have an advantage - only fair considering who I'm playing against.
Finally there it is - I've written the story but there's an obstacle. First, thirty words longhand has to be counted by hand. When was the last time I didn't use word count? I'd almost forgotten that old method - 1,2,3,4,5 slash, record count over the grouping and repeat. Yes, I had too much time on my hands but what else are you to do in a waiting room where the last National Geographic has been removed from the magazine rack?
And just as my brain began to connect with another idea - the wait was over.
So the story - first, it's not quite thirty words and second, it's not the best not-quite thirty word story you'll ever read, but hopefully it's not the worst. So here it is, my one attempt before I go back to the form I do best - long.
She loved him. Now all that stood between them was one dead body
and the murder weapon she held in her hand.
But if any of you are interested - click here for the contest. If nothing else, it's a great little experiment for those holding patterns we all find in life - whatever waiting room you happen to be in. It beats a three year old Family Circle magazine - that's for sure.
We all end up in the waiting rooms of life for one thing or another. How do you fill the waiting hours?