Their precious moments together
By Renee Whitmore
It’s December, cloudy with a chance of snow. Seven students sit in chairs along two tables. The timer is set for 12 minutes. We write.
Grace is to my left. Curly brownish-blonde hair and stylish glasses frame her face. Her purple pen fills her lined pages with pretty cursive. She stops for a moment, rubs her left ring finger, and continues. She tells her tale through the eyes of a character named Mercy, who graduates from high school and moves to New York City to become an actor. She meets a guy, of course, and we wonder where he fits in . . .
Lauren sits directly in front of me, second row. She prefers to type on her laptop, and I watch her as she squints, backspaces, reworks a phrase, smiles, types on. Lauren pulls us in with descriptive scenes and intense characters and endings that surprise us and make her grin in delight . . .
Abby’s in the second row, to my left. Her brown hair is pulled up in a ponytail. Slightly slouched over her notebook, she writes quickly, turns a page, and a minute later, turns another. She asks, “Is this believable?” or, “Should I add more dialogue?” and treats everyone’s story as if it’s the only one she cares about. And, at that very moment, it is . . .
Makenzie sits in between Abby and Lauren in the second row. She writes meticulously — with a pencil. She erases. Her eyes squint as she ponders the sentence she just wrote. She erases some more. Thinks. Writes. Makenzie is working on a thriller. A man wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how he arrived. A girl he has never met sneaks into the room, yanks out his IVs, and says, “We’re getting out of here . . .”
Brittany sits on the far right side of the room, also in the second row, armed with her Starbucks latte with extra espresso. Her long dark hair drapes over her gray hoodie as she writes. She examines every sentence before she moves to the next, and she thinks every scene, every character, every plot twist through before she commits it to paper. She pulls us into her real-life stories . . .
There are two Sams. Sam R. sits right in front of me, a left-hander who writes in harsh, black ink, his eyebrows furrowing. He thinks and continues writing. Sam R. is in the Air Force and will travel to Germany this month. He plans to Skype us. His characters linger in our minds . . .
Sam S. has long, wavy hair spilling over his shoulders and an entire gallon of Deer Park water. He bites a nail, lays his head on his left hand, and writes. He pre-writes in his mind, and when he’s got it just about right, it comes spilling out on paper. His stories are intense — there’s always some sort of dark psychopath involved . . .
I look at my class, quietly writing. Someone coughs. Someone sighs. Someone erases. There’s a steady click of the keys on Lauren’s laptop, a sound that’s more comforting than distracting. Our time together is far from ordinary.
My iPhone’s alarm sounds. Our 12 minutes is up. I take a sip of my hot tea and smile.
I glance out the window. The snow begins to fall. PS
When Renee isn’t teaching English or being a professional taxi driver for her two boys, she is working on her first book.