My husband once surprised the members of my Uff Da Cum Laude Critique Group with sweatshirts proclaiming, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel!” I’ve enjoyed wearing mine and donned it the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving, eliciting chuckles from the regulars at coffee – they know I have a novel due out soon. Later in the day, at the very busy grocery store, the reactions to my shirt startled me. I encountered guarded looks, a couple of double-takes, and several shoppers who lowered their shopping lists and wanted to chat.
Alas, I have no superpowers; most specifically I lack the ability to gaze into a stranger’s soul. Yet when I maneuvered down the canned-goods aisle in search of jellied cranberries, I had to surmise that those wary shoppers glancing sideways at my shirt were concerned I might somehow guess their secrets; that they’d once kissed the wrong boy or yearned to try sky-diving but didn't know how to discuss it with their more conservative partner.
Their reactions were complimentary but a bit intimidating. Why? Because I felt even more compelled to write stories that would allow the solemn, coupon-wielding single mom studying cake mixes to escape into the past with Arick, my valiant fighter pilot. He would never betray her. Or perhaps the sarcastic young man bagging my groceries would prefer the future, where he could kick off his stiff shoes and intern on the Metronome, the spaceship in my new work in progress.
That evening I considered hanging my sweatshirt across from my desk to remind me to be careful, too. After all, someday I might travel with one of those shoppers to the dark nights of war, or spin through a wormhole to leap forward in time. Dancing on distant moons isn’t for the faint of heart, nor, it seems, is visiting the grocery store a few days before Thanksgiving.