Every Tuesday, from four to six in the afternoon, I’m stuck at one of those chain coffee places (that I’m not going to name because it has more than enough advertising without my help). My son has a riding lesson then, in a town that, while a booming metropolis compared to our town, is sorely lacking for places to sit and write in the late afternoon.
Tuesday afternoons it’s always just me, and a group of guys who build houses together, and a giant TV tuned in to some health talk show. The guys drink black coffee. I drink a very small quantity of decaf with lots of milk and sugar, sipped slowly over the course of two hours. The guys talk about things like water leaks and table saws and bits of fingers gone missing after table saw accidents. The TV shows us enlarged hearts and nutritional supplements and healthy snacks. I write.
Thing is, I’m very easily distracted. Even when I think I’m not distracted, I am.
This past Tuesday. Valentine’s Day. Along with missing fingers and water leaks, romance is also on the table for discussion. Or, if not romance, then what to bring home to the wife. Turns out the chain coffee place has heart-shaped frosted donuts for Valentine’s Day. Would that be appropriate?
I don’t know, because I’m trying so hard to ignore everything and write. Write a section about a teenage girl who is hyperemetic. She’s been vomiting. A lot. She’s in the hospital. And I’m in the coffee place, with missing fingers and frosted donuts and…okay…just going to skip over the health show altogether.
Before I pack up to leave, I skim a bit of what I’ve written. Dialogue between the girl and her best friend, who asks her how she is. “I’m feeling better,” she says. “They give me anything I want. I had a bit of milkshake.”
At least that’s what I meant for her to say.
Instead? “I’m feeling better,” she says. “They give me anything I want. I had donuts.”
I’m a little afraid of where the missing fingers might show up.