By Lori DeBoer
I was visiting Manitou Springs once with a friend when we happened upon a shrine tucked away near an abandoned spring. It was dedicated to a teenager who had been killed by a transient. I could not get this girl’s story out of my head. How could a murder occur in such a charming town? Had no one noticed that this transient running about? Were there no witnesses?
At about the same time I was researching this girl’s murder, a Facebook “chain letter,” for lack of a better term, had become very popular. It required that people tell 25 random things about themselves. I got sucked into reading a bunch of them, and was interested in how different people, even non-writers, could churn out unique and compelling iterations. When I tried to write one about myself, I ended up practically channeling a fictional character who also needed to make peace with this murder. The resulting story tells what happens when a girl who feels guilty for the death of her best friend meets a boy who hunts ghosts.
While “Twenty-Five Random Things About Me” was a finalist for a Glimmer Train Fiction Open Contest in December 2010, it is still making the rounds, seeking a home.
Read an Excerpt:
These are the rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with twenty-five random things or facts about you. At the end, choose twenty-five people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, I supposedly want to know more about you. Really, it means I am a snoop. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. The first few are always the easiest.
1. I believed in Santa Claus until I was nine.
2. I believed in God until I was twelve.
3. My favorite color is green.
4. You can trust me to keep your secrets.
5. My biggest talent is dancing. When I was a kid, I loved to dance. Mom didn’t have much money after Dad left. That said, she did sign me up for ballet lessons and bought me a black body suit and pastel pink shoes that smelled like varnish. My best friend Jenny and I took lessons together at Mrs. Murphy’s Dancing School. We dreamed we would join the New York Ballet together and meet Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was in the movie White Nights, a copy of which seems to be practically the only thing left over from my parents’ marriage, besides me. Jenny and I used to watch it in my mom’s room while she was still at work. During the slow parts, I would leap around the room pretending I was a political prisoner who was tired of being cooped up in some cold apartment in Siberia. Jenny never pretended with me; I guess she was afraid of escape. She just always sat and watched me, sipping her Fresca, which she wasn’t allowed to have at her house on account of the fake sugar.
Once, I wore my tights and stuffed the crotch with a maxi pad and spoke with a Russian accent. She laughed so hard that she shot Fresca out her nose.
Really, that right there is probably more than twenty-five random things, but I’m going to keep going because my therapist says I should Finish What I Start and Try New Things. Those two requests contradict each other, but I’m not sure I should point that out to her. Besides, a list is not earthshatteringly dangerous or anything. It can’t really cover cause and effect, or why some people believe in stuff like Santa Claus and ghosts and God, while others wouldn’t believe in something if they tripped over it.
Copyright 2010 by Lori DeBoer.