Seeing My Characters

During a trip to a garden center, I saw them. Big as life and twice as wonderful. My two main characters. Who could have imagined they would suddenly surface while I looked for the latest varieties of petunias? They stood next to a shelf of geraniums, apparently waiting for me to discover them.

I barely paid attention to the people around me – a warning to writers everywhere. Pay attention to people! My mind focused on which annuals to plant and how many perennials I could afford. Spring is one of my favorite seasons, right up there with fall and summer. Forget winter. In the spring, God surprises me with wildflowers that somehow made it through the cold months and greet me with a morning, “Here we are. Don’t you love us?” Yes, I do.

During the winter, I save my coins to buy flowers in the spring. I carefully plot out where to plant the various colors and textures so that they accessorize the house and bring cheer to my neighbors. The perennials go in a special garden that returns each year and blesses me as it breeds. Container gardens on my deck make me smile each time I open the door or peer out the window. Did I mention how much I love flowers?

So the annual trip to the garden center is a treasured moment. I concentrate on buying just the right amount of blooms yet sometimes surprise myself with a brand new hybrid. But what a delight to run into my fictional characters – right in the middle of a sunshiny Kansas day.

There they were. Human clones of Reverend G and Chris. Okay, he didn’t have a mustache, but I easily imagined one thriving just above his top lip. His long white hair bespoke the bearing and eclectic genius of a college professor. Not quite as tall as my Chris, but hey – he wore sandals. In dress shoes, he’d be just the right height.

And Reverend G – a petite lady with white hair, bunched behind her head in a scoonchie, standing beside her man with a look of utter contentment. Obviously in the middle of one of her prayers to the God who understands why He allowed her to fall into the abyss of Alzheimer’s.

They looked at flowers, too, she with her arm in his – he, carrying one of those cardboard flats that hold the seedlings. My two main characters who go through several adventures in life and end up…well…you have to read the book to find out.

I looked around me and wondered, Am I the only person who sees them? Have I finally succumbed to the creative disorder of novelists who spend so much time with their characters that they dream about them, pray for them and see them in real life? Or are these two people in front of me actual human beings, deeply in love and enjoying spring as much as I?

They passed on, and I finished my shopping with a giggle in my soul. Only after I paid for my flowers, settled them in my trunk and started my car did I think about the camera on my phone. Why hadn’t I taken a picture? Why not boldly walk up to this couple and say, “You look just like two of the wonderful people in my novel. Would you mind if I took a picture of you among all these beautiful flowers?”

Of course by that time, they were no longer in sight.

I’ll just have to go back to the garden center, buy more flowers and search for Reverend G and Chris. If I find them again, I’ll take a picture. Then I’ll have proof that I’m not crazy.

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