Todd goes through life much like an oversized bowling ball.
Like his arrival home – heralded by the usual thumps of him kicking perennially unlaced runners against the wall, then a shoulder check to the door while twisting the knob and finally, an eruption into the house.
“You won’t believe this,” he exclaims, stomping into the kitchen in his rumpled gray T-shirt and khakis. Frayed hems flop behind his heels. He tosses his backpack onto the island. “Mr. Crowthers sprung a surprise vocabulary test.”
Our cat sidles out of the kitchen.
Todd scratches his wild curls, yanks the milk out of the fridge and slams the door. Three fridge magnets clatter to the floor. He replaces one.
So far, the bowling game is comparatively low scoring.
“Was it a surprise to everyone else?” I retrieve a magnet from under the fridge.
“Dunno. Prob’ly.” He grabs a spoon and the Almond Crisp, then scrapes a stool to the island.
“Well, how’d you do?”
He stares at the back of the cereal box. “With what?”
“You know, the surprise test.”
“Oh, not sure. We didn’t mark ‘em yet ‘cause he had some VERY IMPORTANT things to discuss. He even held us for an extra six minutes.” He splashes the milk into the bowl, and onto the counter.
“So, what did he say?” I hand him a rag.
“Something about mid terms. I think.”
He swipes once at the milk puddle then fires the rag toward the sink, but instead nails my Easter lily. It nose-dives to the floor. Head Pin!
I hate that word. But, there are others – “uh oh,” “whoops”, and the ever popular, “Was that an antique?”
“Todd. Seriously! Slow down!” I rush over and groan at the severed white bloom in the pile of dirt.
“Sorry…Oh, hey, you gotta see this.” Burrowing through the contents of his backpack, he yanks out a wrinkled piece of paper. He slaps it down exclaiming, “D’ya like that?”
I recoil – it’s stained brown from something in his pack I’d rather not know about. I gingerly smooth it out and see a circled 43/40. “Wow. Nice going. But 43 out of 40?”
“Bonus points.” He pumps a fist. “I named three Roman Emperors.”
For the millionth time, I wonder how consistent he would be if he really tried.
After re-washing the counter, I bring out the dustpan.
“Hey, I can do that,” he blurts through a full mouth.
I glance at my other tender plants – more potential pins. “Uh, no. S’okay.”
Suddenly I’m in a firm neck hold. Todd delivers a smooch that feels more like a playful punch to the jaw.
“Goin’ to Brandon’s to work on a project. ‘Kay?”
I survey my once neat kitchen. This bowling match could turn out a winning score very soon. “Sure. Great idea.” I say a bit too enthusiastically.
He hauls his backpack off the counter, snagging his cereal bowl. It clatters to the floor.
Strike and end of match.
Does this sound like anything you could relate too? I’m hoping you can say yes.
This little story was the winning entry to a contest on personalities I’d submitted to years ago. I think I took all of ten minutes to write it, as it was crystal clear in my mind. I had, right in my own home, all the inspiration I needed to write about a boy’s personality. All I had to do sometimes (when I wasn’t scurrying off in the car to another of his hockey practices) was grab a chai tea latte, and watch. Okay, plus grab a rag.. and a broom.. and a tylenol for my headaches.
But the difference between normal people (and I use that term loosely) and writers, is that life experiences seldom go unnoticed and/or undocumented. Living life is just doing research for our books. My boys know that my characters are them in different settings. And thankfully they are fine with that.
So tell me, how many of your characters are your family members and/or friends? Or if not, where do you get your inspiration?