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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Here's the exercise:
“WAG #6: Overheard” Another people-watching exercise this week! This time, let’s
listen! Choose a stranger and do your best to overhear what they say, and then write
it down. It can be on the phone, to someone else, or even them talking to themselves.
What does their voice, word choice, or tone tell you about them? Feel free to write
their exact words OR write it as you would for fictional dialogue. By now you guys
know the rules aren’t what’s important, but the experience!

So I’m sitting at a restaurant, waiting for a friend. With nothing better to do—and the assignment a perfect opportunity—I set out to do a little eavesdropping. And it wasn’t hard. The couple across from me gave me plenty to think about…

“Six months at best,” she quietly sobbed. She blew her nose daintily into a crumpled tissue. “That was the last thing I ever expected him to say when he came in with the lab work…six months.”
“I know, dear,” he said, emotions lodged in his throat. “I know. But we’ll make the most of it; I promise.”
“What about the kids?” her voice cracked. “Even though they’re all grown, this will break their hearts. You know Christmas is their favorite time of the year, a time for family, a time for reminiscing…”
“Hush now,” he reached over and patted her hand. “We’ll make every day Christmas, we’ll make every day a holiday.”
The woman paused as the waitress set down the coffee mugs. With a wistful sigh, she unrolled her silverware from the linen napkin. The metal utensils’ clinked together before gently clunking onto the surface of the wooden table. She snapped the wrinkles out of her napkin and sighed again. “I guess we never know when our time is up, do we?”
“No,” he stirred his coffee. “But when you think about it, knowing is a gift. Now we can make time to do all the things we wanted to do and never had time for. So what would you like to do? I’ll take some time off work and we’ll make every day an adventure.”
“Travel,” her melodic laughter echoed through the room. “You promised to take me to Paris some day. I’d say some day is now, don’t ya think?”
“Paris in the spring,” he stirred his coffee again. His spoon rattled when he put it on the table. He cleared his throat. “We kept putting it off, thinking we had all the time in the world, the business, the kids…and now…”
“Shh…” she patted his hand. “We have six months and that’s a long time to make every day count.”
“You’re right; it’s a gift.”
“Let’s go home,” she said as Always and Forever played softly on the stereo. “Let’s leave nothing to chance.”

Their departure left footprints on my heart. I sniffed, emotions lodged in my chest. Six months to make every day count, I thought to myself. How often we put off today what we can do tomorrow. What would you do if you had six months to do something you put off doing?

How to Join the Writing Adventure Group
Cora Zane
Iain Martin
Christine Kirchoff
Nancy J Parra
Sharon Donovan
Nixy Valentine
Jon Strother
Marsha Moore


Mary Ricksen said...

I'd go to Vermont and spend my last six months at home. In the country. Writing, enjoying the sun, visiting with the people who care. Just being me.
I couldn't travel cause I have no money. Sad that no money stops us from a lot of things. But Vermont is beautiful. If I couldn't get to Vermont then it would be in the Smokies in NC.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Mary. Although I always said I'd return to Hawaii some day, if push came to shove, I'd prefer the comforts of home with family, friends and animals. And like you, I'd write, maybe take up a journal. It would be important to leave my mark on this world.

Mary Ricksen said...

You already have!!

Sharon Donovan said...

Ah...Mary, aren't' you sweet. Ditto on that!!

Anonymous said...

Very provocative piece! I liked this. I think the best part was the line where you described your reaction.

Mickey said...

Wow. What a scene. Well described. I can't answer your question. I don't know what I'd do. I suppose I might revisit some places and I'd try to help out with something that would make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this was sad! Touching and sad and heartwrenching.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks Nixy. Funny how strangers can put it all into perspective, isn't it? I know Mickey. It's hard to say and play the what if game. But making a difference is a wonderful goal. Whether we realize it or not, we all leave our mark. Truer words were never spoken, Chris. But life must come full circle. And I guess the way I look at it, if I had six months to wrap us the things in my life I put off doing, knowing would perhaps be a gift. Look how many never get the chance to say good bye--let alone I'm sorry or those words you wished you could have said if only....
This is a perfect example of how truly short life is. And while we're here, it's up to us to live each day to the fullest and celebrate the good times. Happy Easter everyone!

Hywela Lyn said...

Lovely post Sharon. as Mary says money is a constraint for many of us who would love to visit places we've never seen if we only had six more months in this beautiful world - but for me I'd want to go home to Wales, to spend my last days in the country I love.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lyn. I know how much you adore and cherish your precious Wales. And what a nice thought, spending your final days in a place of your choosing. And oh, the wisdom in Mary's words. If not for money, wouldn't we all be in another place right now? Maybe that's why we write with such passion. Through our characters, we can travel the world. And in your case, orbit outter space!

J. M. Strother said...

This one takes my breath away. So very sad. So very true.

If I had six months to live I would try to finish up a novel a month. I have about that many in various stages of work and neglect. Start with the most completed and work down the stack. I'd never finish in time, but might get one or two polished enough to get them published posthumously.

I doubt I'd travel much. I think I'm more of a cocoon type. I would seek the comfort of family, friends, and home and pray for a peaceful end.

Excellent piece. Life is full of stories. Unfortunately, many of them are tragedies.

Lulu said...

You witnessed something powerful. And listened without breaking down yourself. Thanks for sharing. I don't know if I could relay it. At least not right away.
With 6 months I'd tackle my list of goals. 1)learn to fly fish-but I really just want to learn how to tie flies. 2)learn to play the bagpipes 3)learn to speak Welsh and 4)well, since this isn't an adult site, we won't go there. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hey John! Six books in the workd! Wow, that's quite a few. Your comment reminds me of a quote I once heard. To paraphrase the question, it went something like, "What would you do if you had only so long to live..."
and the author answered, "Write faster.

Sharon Donovan said...

Interesting goals, Lulu. Even though I love the sound of the bagpipe, I never had the desire to play one. Learning to speak Welsh is nice. I know from my friend Lyn what a beautiful country it is, and so full of the legends and lore I love so much. If I had three things to tackle, hmm. Getting my vision back, finding a cure for diabetes and painting picturesque landscapes the way I once did....

Nancy J. Parra said...

This was very bittersweet and thought provoking. I was "there." Thanks for writing it- fabulous!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Nancy. I suppose sometimes it's important to just stop and smell the roses. Have a lovely Easter.