Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Diversity and longing for a puppy

God has placed us in a world of stunning diversity. Spring and summer. Pine and sumach. Bears and squirrels. Cardinals and chickadees. Stars and moon. Trilliums and roses. Writers exhibit the same endearing quality. We’re all so different.

At our monthly writers’ group in Brighton, we begin with an exercise that inevitably illustrates our diversity. Usually, the exercise involves 15 minutes of freestyle writing during which we start with a given phrase, situation or character. A conversation in an elevator. Standing on a railway platform. An embarrassing moment.

My attempts often lead to short stories. I especially enjoy the stories that grow out of phrases such as; “It was as if.” This month we chose the phrase; “I would like to make an exchange.” We all took off in different directions. One wrote up a theological treatise on exchanging relativity for truth. Another described relationships she would not exchange. A third intrigued us with his description of a man exchanging strange coloured spheres in a market—reminiscent of a sci fi tale.

I wrote the following. I’ll let you finish it.

A Fair Exchange

“I would like to make an exchange,” said Buddy pulling a kitten from his jacket.

Mr. Jennison turned from his position between the rabbits and the hamsters to face Buddy. “An exchange?”

“Yes, sir,” said Buddy. “I don’t like cats. Mind you, if I did, this would be a very nice kitty.”

“Sorry, young man, but we don’t exchange pets.”

“But you must. My grandpa bought it here. He told me.”

Mr Jennison knelt down to look Buddy in the eye. “I’m sure he did . . . but you see we don’t exchange pets . . . we never have.”

A tear trickled down Buddy’s cheek. “I wanted a puppy . . .like . . . like that one over there.” He pointed to a tiny black ball of fur.

“I’m sure if you give this kitty a chance,” said Mr. Jennison, “you’ll really learn to love it.”

“Oh, I already love it. I just don’t like it—it’s a cat. “Buddy’s voice rose. “Every boy needs a dog . . . to follow him, and to sleep under his bed . . .to play with. My daddy had one when he was a boy.”

Mr. Jennison just knelt there with his mouth open. He didn’t know what to say.

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