We each know the people who have had profound and lasting influence on us. We can probably number them on our fingers–or, if you’re lucky, maybe fingers and toes. These profound influences are few in number and, one hopes, positive in nature. (Though honest observation forces me to acknowledge that these influences can work in the opposite direction as well, my optimistic side wants to believe that the negative influences will eventually be discovered and undone, perhaps by time, perhaps by a positive counterforce–or so I would hope.)
But what about the profound influences that simply flit in then out of one’s life–an instant’s brush, a minute’s or hour’s or day’s, then gone? Some might say that such profound effect from a brief or casual encounter is impossible. Others might suggest that such momentary impact is the most intense and meaningful because it is undiluted by time or by the complexities of getting to know the person better. Finally, one’s openness to such shaping surely says more about the one being influenced than the one doing that shaping–how ready is one to be changed, to have an epiphany triggered by a word or gesture or touch? And then one would have to ask–what makes an individual available to be shaped, to gain revelation? And why would one be ready for that revelation on a certain day but not the previous or the next? Who or what dictates this receptiveness? Who or what puts us in the way of these passing profound influences?
As if these questions aren’t weighty enough in real life, sometimes they arise in writing as well. In a recent scene, Zach was back in his home town, working for a few weeks on the farm after graduating from Avery. And after work he hits the local bars with his younger brother. All pretty straightforward, right? And there are lots of possible people from his past that he might meet there, lots of different directions to go. And probably there’s a girl or two or three. But I’ll be darned if I saw in advance the girl who actually showed up, or in any way anticipated her enduring impact on Zach’s life from this unexpected encounter. But then, that’s why we labor over this stuff, endure the drudgery and isolation–for such surprises, such revelations.
The excerpted story is called “The Annunciation.” I plan to publish it on smashwords.com sometime in July.