John Dufresne says, “There’s not enough room in here. Let’s go outside.”
I followd him out of my trailer, the aluminum 1958 ten-by-fifty Nashua I inhabited in college. Except we’re on a large lot, big cottonwoods crowding the fence line, mountains haunting the Oklahoma sky.
“So,” I insist, “I’m focusing on the psychology of my characters, through their actions, not just dialogue.”
“There’s more to it than the character’s psychology.” John put my manuscript on a fence post and popped a beer. I know he’s here to help me become a better writer.
“How the characters react with others, including the reader, how does she or he struggle to overcome, not just ‘I think I remember an uncle touched me when I was eleven, and I’ve never gotten over it.”
“Sure, I mean, well, that’s all part of what I mean.” John’s always reminded me of a big teddy bear, but older; instead of looking faded and childish, it got gray and smart, somehow grew up more than I did.
I looked around, it had been a long time since I’d been here. It wasn’t nostalgia, it was more a feeling that this place didn’t exist anymore, at least not for anyone else.
“And I’ve been playing with time.”
“I can see that. You always been linear. As if you didn’t realize a moment passed wasn’t a lost opportunity.”
“But….” I hesitated, not wanting to reverse any progress I might have made. The sky grayed, the mountains faded. I wasn’t sure if a storm was rolling in or maybe it was late afternoon. John lit the Habachi, the same one I’d used to catch the pecan tree on fire in 1979. Almost lost the Nashua, orange curtains and all. Except that night it was snowing. Now I hadn’t thought about the temperature at all.
“Think of a clock that can jump around.”
“Like God,” I said.
“Why not? You’re in control.”
I wondered why I wasn’t drinking a beer. Maybe it wasn’t polite, putting words into John’s mouth.
Then I woke up.