There was one defining moment when I knew I wanted to write. I was in eighth grade in a special English class that was the only one that fit my schedule. At one point in the year the teacher gave us a writing challenge. She walked around and we randomly drew objects from a box. Mine was a glass crystal that was shaped like a teardrop and glittered in the fluorescent light. I admired the flickering colors that shone when I turned it around and the paragraph I wrote focused on the refracted light. I gave the gem mystical powers to obliterate shadow and to abolish the darkness in our minds.
She then asked us to write about a place. I thought of an abandoned house in my neighborhood that leered at the elementary school beside it. We had all feared the overgrown grass and boarded windows and so I altered its appearance just slightly more in order to make it ever creepier. I lifted that house and placed it on pedestals. The teacher thought I meant columns but I explained that the house had been lifted off the ground and was full supported by those pedestals. She smirked and nodded her head.
Then we were to describe a person. I chose an old man living on an island in the raised, deserted-looking abode. He was the keeper of the Teardrop Crystal but he would not part with his secret willingly. It was only possible to visit him by canoe, and the tiny island was somehow riddled with a dense forest that opened wide to a small clearing with the elevated house in the center. The old man was missing teeth and he whistled when he spoke, but in the brief scene he spoke only to himself.
When we finished with the three tasks, she asked us to read them through to ourselves and to make corrections or changes if we wanted to. I couldn’t, however, because when I read it back, I realized suddenly that I had connected all three stories. I hadn’t intended to. It just sort of happened. And it felt wonderful.
I had tried to expand upon the start but it was a mess. The main character was a kid my age (shockingly) who had built a robot friend (totally cool) who reminded the boy that he had to go food shopping. So he went and picked up the basics his family needed, which he lovingly remembered as BLOT CAMaW. All the essentials, of course: Bread, Lettuce, Oranges, Tomatoes, Carrots, Apples, Milk, And bottled Water. Along the way, he passed a house on pedestals, which was no longer on an island. Later, he would try to get in because some glimmering light was glowing from inside. Rumors of mystical energy and a strange old man were everywhere…
I didn’t get very far in the story.
But I will always remember it.