I’ve never been to a yard sale since I am not the least bit interested in other people’s junk. Not being in the habit of rummaging through anyone else’s trash, however, currently in my neighborhood there have been temptations placed before me such as; office furniture, bicycles, and lawn chairs. This morning while walking Coco, I passed a great temptation: a thing, covered in a faded floral sheet, with a huge sign pinned to it that read, “Do Not Take.”
Why not? I immediately asked myself. I don’t know what’s under the sheet, though I thought I glimpsed a bit of wood. I’d like to say I snuck a peak, but I didn’t. There was something about the scrawl of the sign that made me think its writer may have anger management issues. Also, it’s way more fun to think about the endless possibilities.
What could possibly make anyone put up a sign like that? What in the world is it? A broken piece of furniture and the owner is afraid someone will sue them over it. But there must be a legal assumption that trash is broken. Perhaps the owner is dead and in their absence the caretaker has a phobia about other people using their things. Perhaps the item has a secret or nuclear code of some kind. Perhaps it’s a broken mirror? Whoever touches or glimpses at it will have seven years of bad luck. Perhaps the item is possessed, but then why let the garbage people pick it up. Aren’t they as fallible as everyone else? Perhaps the owner loved that item so much that they can’t bear to think of anyone else using it.
Whatever it is, I feel confident there’s a juicy story behind it. And isn’t this how stories begin, so often—with something that’s just not quite right and you allow your imagination to run with it. Have you ever started a story that way?