Yesterday I was walking around my block and I saw this blue ball in the bushes, and I had to capture an image of it, because it was so overwhelmingly obvious. I mean, have you ever seen such a first line of a sad story about, about what? About a child who lost his bright blue ball? No. Not that one. This story is about a grandma whose three-year-old granddaughter was going to come for a visit but didn't because her parents were fighting, and the grandma had been waiting outside with the ball, which was brand new. She was watching expectantly for the girl to come, until the phone rang inside the house. This grandma still has a landline, by the way. So she went in to answer the phone, and it was her son, saying, forget about it, Mom, we're not coming today. In her worry and her disappointment, the grandma had to lie down on the couch. She forgot about the ball, and the wind took it.
Sorry about that. Maybe it doesn't have to be so sad. Maybe the story is about a little boy who believes in magic, and he planted that ball under that shrub on purpose to make something happen, something very, very big. Something crucial. It has to do with an idea he has about Mars. And now he's waiting. Of course, we can presume that something is definitely going to happen. I think, though, it won't be what he is expecting. But he won't lose his faith in the ball. Not yet.
That reminds me that when I was ten, I had a whole family of super balls. I kept them in a shoebox house. I had made walls and furniture for it, too, and the little colored balls slept in the little cardboard beds and ate at the little cardboard table and looked out the little cut-into-the-cardboard windows and thought gigantic super ball thoughts about the future. Sometimes the balls played with the jacks. I was lonely, yes. But this was fun.
What I'm amazed by is that first lines really are just sitting there, all the time. Second and third lines, too. All the lines. It's just, they're shy. They hide. You really have to look with your eyes, and all of your other senses, too. But that bright blue ball! Man, that one was right there, practically hollering. I love it when that happens. It reminds me that the world is a magical place. The story is always looking for you; you just need to look back.
If want to look on Stout's Island this summer, we have two last spots left for the Summer Solstice Retreat (at least, as of this writing, we do). As always, we would love to have you.
Meanwhile, I wrote a story about forgetting. It was supposed to be about prom, but it didn't turn out that way. Luckily, my editor at the Star Tribune published it anyway. You can read it here. I hope you will. I also hope you, too, are writing!