The checker at Walmart who's missing two teeth, the UPS Driver who delivers packages in shorts no matter the weather, the ambitious student with the amazing smile that never quite reaches his eyes or the girl in my night class that wore a blue blouse so stunning that it actually changed the color of her eyes. I wonder about these people. These are the reasons I don't sleep.
Now before you apply for a restraining order, let me explain my obsesssion. It's not like I rifle through their mail or follow them home from the movies. I'd like too--if it didn't sound so completely creepy. But I'm not obsessing in a fatal attraction sort of way. It's just that some people fascinate me. They leave me wanting more. I want to know what makes them tick. To peel back the layers and know what's inside. Their joy and heartaches, what topping they prefer on toast, if they have strange hygiene habits or a weird little toe. I want to know absolutely everything about them.
I want to know why the checker is missing her teeth? What's the backstory? Why doesn't the student really smile? And how does it feel to suddenly blossom?
I used to think there was something dangerously wrong with me for wondering about people, constructing imaginary backstories and relationships and tragedies. But what I was seeking was the story. I'm writing even when I don't realize it. My mind wanders and suddenly, I discover everything about the toothless girl. What beverage she drinks and what she says when arrogant college boys carelessly mock her. Perhaps you'd see missing teeth as a character flaw or a cautionary tale on poor hygiene. But for me it all unfolds and instead of a person at the checkout counter, she becomes something more. She becomes a character. A living, breathing person inside my head whispering, waiting for her story to be told.
What characters do you obsess over?