Missed Connections: If you go to Craigslist, there is a “Missed Connections” section where you can find some interesting story lines to inspire your writing.
Texas thrift (San Antonio)
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You are beautiful female blue jean shorts black shorts rose or heart tattoo is know you noticed me checking you I really hope your see this (sic)
Growing up with his mom, it was their thing to go thrift shopping on Wednesdays. It had to be Wednesdays, it couldn’t be any other day. Mom worked insanely hard, and his school was very rigorous as well, but Wednesday was half-day off, and mom had decided for that day to be their day. She’d reschedule meetings, cancel events, change plans, all so that they could hang out on Wednesday. Thrifting was by far their favorite thing, and they went at it with a plan already in mind. Each of them had to find something interesting, it could be a piece of clothing, a book, an artifact. Then, they would sit down at a diner close by and share a story they’d made up for it. It was the shirt that she’d worn on her first date with her now ex-husband, or the vase that his grandmother had given him, which he decided to throw away after he found out she’d been the reason his mom had left.
The stories grew weirder and more complex, as life itself did, but even after he left for college, he’d spend his Wednesday afternoons at the thrift shop, buying stuff, and then they’d meet with mom, usually via FaceTime over dinner, and talk about what they’d found. Occasionally she’d surprise him by popping up to his college, then to his workplace. He’d do as she had, cancel meetings, move plans around, say no to friends, and he didn’t mind. Thrifting Wednesdays, as they had come to call it, was their thing, their best thing, and then, when mom got diagnosed with cancer, their only thing. It was those Wednesdays afternoon that kept them going when he moved back to San Marcos to be with mom, and she would fight with the nurses and doctors every single Wednesday so that they’d let her leave the hospital just for a couple of hours, there was something she needed to tend to.
And the last story mom came up with, was by far the most beautiful. It was about a little girl who had been too afraid to love. Nobody ever understood why. She had grown up in a big house, with wonderful parents who loved her. Maybe that was the problem, that she was afraid her love story would fall short of the one she’d grown up in. Once she grew older, however, she fell in love with a young man from a different country, and they lived a short but passionate affair. Even though she told him he could stay, get married, build a life together, he felt that it was his duty to go back to his country and be with his family, build a family over there, like his family wanted, even if it wasn’t what made him happy. Before he left, though, he’d given her a necklace, and although she’d kept it for a while, the woman’s mother had given it away when the child was born. This child, a son, was born of that union, of that brief story, but her mom had felt it was disrespectful to keep the necklace—why keep something that reminded her of the man who had left her behind like that.
“You don’t remember that story, do you?” Mom told him that time at the diner, looking paler than usual and bracing for what she knew was coming.
He shook his head “no” and she smiled.
“It was the first time we went thrift shopping. I found the necklace,” she said, and she took a necklace out of her pocket and put it over the one she’d gotten that day from the thrift shop. “I told you the story, and then you started crying, said it was too sad. So I told you I’d made it up, and that’s how our little game started.”
He didn’t know that, didn’t remember. Or maybe he did, but he had buried it somewhere in the depth of his brain, trying to forget.
“When you go through my things, you’re going to find a manila envelope. There, you’ll find all the information I could gather on your dad. His name, what he does for a living, where he lives,” she swallowed hard, “the name of his wife and children. They are your family, too, if you ever want to find them.”
But he didn’t, and after mom died he just put the manila envelope away with her other things. He put it in the pile of things to keep, though, even though at the time all he wanted to do was trash it. The only thing was that once he threw it away, there’d be no coming back, and whoever his father was, would remain a mystery forever. He decided to keep it, at least while he built the courage either to open it or just get rid of it. The remaining things, the things that he didn’t feel like keeping, he loaded them in his car and took them to the first thrift shop where they’d ever been, the one where everything started.
After he was done putting the boxes down, he thought it made sense for him to just go around. It was, after all, Wednesday, and mom would’ve wanted nothing more. So he went up and down the aisles looking but not looking at different artifacts, clothes, even games, and it was next to the jewelry section that he saw her. Blue jean shorts, black t-shirt, a rose tattoo on her right inner arm, taking a look at a pair of long silver hoops with colorful beads.
“She was probably wearing those when the football team captain asked her to prom.”
He thought he’d startle her, but it was a risk worth taking. She didn’t as much as bulge and, without even looking away from the earrings, she started, “and she said yes, but it wasn’t him that she wanted to ask her. He actually wore these earrings because her best friend liked them, and she thought he’d ask her instead.”
“They were special, those earrings,” he continued, “because they’d bought them at the fair together, that day they’d ditched school to go to San Antonio.”
“In his dad’s beat-up car,” she said, still fixated on the hoops. “The one that he had given him for his birthday.”
“They had a great day, though.”
“Yes, they did.” She turned at him and smiled, “and before they even made it back home that day, they already knew they were in love.”