Years ago, I came up with a story about a girl, Esme, who wants to be ‘normal’ and runs away from her father’s carnival. I really liked the idea of a girl running away from a carnival and not to the carnival. I wrote a couple of chapters. I knew how it began but didn’t know the catalyst or what she was going to find once she left.
I explored options—had her father kidnapped Esme from her mother, saying her mother was dead, when in fact, she was very much alive?
Option b—were her grandparents looking for her because her father had absconded with her after her mother’s death. Does she reunite with them and go to a ‘normal’ high school and discover that ‘normal’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Option c—her father was a kidnapper and not related. Is she the kid on the milk carton? And what happens when she’s reunited with her family? Does she miss her father?
Option d—Okay, I ran out of options. And I didn’t like all the kidnapping angles. So, I shelved it.
Next week is Spring Break in Vancouver, WA. And today the carnival is setting up as it does for each extended school break. The set up is right outside the Barnes and Noble window that I gaze out as I write.
I never go to it—my kids well beyond the age of needing or wanting to go on rides. But I like the bright lights and the hypnotic spell the Ferris Wheel weaves as it rises into the sky and dips back down to earth.
And I think of Esme. For one week every five months or so—I remember this story and wonder if I’ll ever think of a way to write her story. Or if it’s forever locked away from me.